Monday, January 14, 2008

I first heard about Volta on the Java Posse (#154). It was carelessly referred to as a GWT rip-off. Being a long-time listener (and fan) of the Java Posse, I was well aware that opinions expressed about Microsoft products are seldom well researched. I did a little more reading and was interested in what I found.

While Volta does generate Javascript, it does so in a slightly different way than GWT. While GWT reads Java code and compiles to Javascript, Volta reads bytecode (.NET IL) and compiles to Javascript. And while GWT defines its own UI APIs, Volta uses the existing .Net APIs. This means, you can write an app in C# or VB using the form designer, add some annotations to tell the system which parts are client code, and compile the same source to both a thick client and a web app.

Of course, while I can't attest to how well it works (like those at the Java Posse, I don't own a Windows PC), I do think it give us some interesting things to think about in the Java community.
  • If GWT read bytecode rather than source code, it could support Groovy as well. For those who haven't tried, Groovy builders are a very clean way to write Swing code. They could have been helpful for GWT as well.
  • Could a single set of UI APIs apply for Applets, Applications and GWT-like Web apps, like Microsoft's Avalon APIs span Silverlight, Windows Apps and Volta UIs?
  • How many interesting ideas do we miss because we don't watch developments in competing environments?


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