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05 December 2012, 15:17

GWT: No future without the community

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Vaadin, the company behind the GWT-based web framework of the same name, has published a report on the future of Google's Web Toolkit (GWT), a Java-based web framework that includes a Java-to-JavaScript compiler. Google had appeared to scale back its own GWT development efforts following its shift in focus towards Dart as an alternative to JavaScript and, earlier this year, had promised to create a more open development process. This resulted in the formation of a steering committee, which includes Google representatives as well as developers from Red Hat and Vaadin and which will be responsible for the future development of GWT.

The report is based on the answers from more than 1,300 survey participants, which means that the result can be considered largely representative of the GWT user community. One of the survey's findings is that almost 80% of respondents use GWT for building business applications. The toolkit appears to be particularly popular in Europe, where 54% of its users are located. Just under 30% live in the US.

Almost all applications developed with GWT run on desktops; however, it seems that the significance of GWT is increasing in mobile environments, as 36.1% of applications also work on tablets, and 25.7% on mobile phones. PhoneGap and/or GWT-phonegap (55%) or mGWT (42%) stand out in the mobile app development area.

More than 60% of respondents felt that their productivity with GWT is high. About a third appeared to be satisfied. Suggested improvements mainly concerned the compile time required (49% of respondents unhappy), the number of sufficiently developed widgets (34%) and the refresh time in dev mode (27%). The community appears to be very satisfied with the toolkit's browser compatibility, which was identified as a strong point by 60% of survey participants. Other points that were mentioned by 15-25% of respondents include application speed, modularity, the GWT community's tools, and the fast bug fixing.

That almost 89% of survey participants would use GWT when starting a new project should inspire confidence. The list of perceived competitors includes the combination of JavaScript and REST (38%), as well as Spring MVC (28%), Dart (19%), JavaServer Faces (JSF) and the Play framework (both 16%). When asked about the future of GWT under the auspices of an independent committee, half the respondents thought that is still too early to tell, however just over a third said that they already felt optimistic that GWT will get even better.


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