GWT Swept Under Open Source
Written by Ian Elliot   
Thursday, 05 July 2012

Google is  handing over control of its GWT (Google Web Toolkit) for browser application development to a steering committee. A release candidate of GWT 2.5, the final Google-directed release, is also available and features compiler optimizations.

News of the change of leadership came at Google I/O from Ray Cromwell, the Google technical lead for GTT.

Cromwell, who will serve as the committee chairperson in the first instance, explained that with a committee controlling the future road map of GWT:

It will no longer be Google as dictator.... We have to be responsive, and we have to think more about what other people [support]," in GWT,

The other companies represented on the committee include Vaadin, Sencha, and Red Hat, and members include GWT advocates Thomas Broyer, Christian Goudreau, and Daniel Kurka.

According to Cromwell, the committee has already had a couple of meetings and has decided to move the GWT repository from Subversion to Git. GWT has also forked two official branches: a master dev line trunk, for testing out bleeding-edge capabilities, and a beta branch, which will hold new capabilities selectively taken from the dev line trunk branch.

GWT is essentially a Java-to-JavaScript compiler - a software development kit with core Java APIs and widgets for writing AJAX applications in Java and compiling them to JavaScript. It is used in Google products such as AdWords and Wallet and for "fun things" such as GwtQuake and Angry Birds for the Web.

The timeline presented at Google I/O shows that GWT 1.0 was released in 2006, had its first open source release in 2007 and reached version 2.0 in 2009 when it added major new features including DevMode, DraftCompile, UI Binder, LayoutPanel. CodeSplitter, ClientBundle, and CssResource. Versions 2.1 and 2.2 both had major features, with RequestFactory and Editor Framework in the former in 2010 and GWT Designer and HTML5 support in 2011. A few months later, Version 2.3 extended HTML5 support and improved AppEngine integration. Version 2.4 also  in 2011 had Maven and RequestFactory enhancement.

Now the last version to emerge from the Google-managed phase of the project, GWT 2.5 introduces a SuperDevMode capability that allows for fast refreshing and compiling to JavaScript and brings source-level Java debugging and mobile browser debugging.

The upgrade also includes Elemental, an experimental library providing lightweight, to-the-metal Web programming, primarily targeted at mobile development.

Other features include:

  • New Compiler Optimizations
  • Closure Compiler Integration
  • Code Splitter improvements
  • Better Stack Traces with SourceMaps
  • UiBinder and CellWidget updates

A final version of GWT 2.5 is expected in less than a month.

 

As we reported yesterday, Google has closed more of its redundant and unwanted projects and while GWT doesn't fit into either category putting it in the hands of a steering committee does seem a bit like sweeping it to one side.

On the other hand, having Google loosen it hold on the project may be just what is required for it to flourish.

More Information

GWT website

Related Articles

GWT 2.3 extends HTML5 capability

Google releases GWT 2.2

 

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