Rich Web Frameworks, Toolkits, Example Projects, and Ajax

Note: this list should be considered an historical document from the early days of Ajax. For current information, see or any of the myriad of other sites that do a really good job of covering this field.

This is a (non-complete) listing of Ajax tookits and interesting example projects

Getting Started w/ Ajax and XMLHttpRequest


  • Rico Suave. This is a rich application framework that’s F/OSS under the Apache License, and provides ajax, cinematic effects, drag and drop, and behaviors.
  • CPAINT — Cross-Platform Asynchronous INterface Toolkit — This is basically ajax with hooks into ASP and PHP. This was used to create the Magnetic Ajax Poetry application.
  • Sajax — This one is really cool. Basically, it’s an Ajax client/server framework that includes backends written in ASP, ColdFusion, Io, Lua, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby. That’s a mouthful. I haven’t had time to play with it, but looking at the html source for their examples (they have a calculator and a simple chat program on their website)
  • Wick — Web Input Completion Kit — Basically, this is a simple Ajax toolkit for doing auto completion a la google suggest, but with your choice of data. That’s what’s there now. They plan on releasing quite a bit more than just this, though.
  • xajax — xajax is an open source PHP class library for easily creating powerful PHP-driven, web-based AJAX Applications. Using xajax, you can asynchronously call PHP functions and update the content of your webpage without reloading the page.
  • Sack of Ajax — This one is pretty much the simplest Ajax kit out there. All it does is perform an ajax call (based on the URL you provide) and put the results in a div class you specify. Simple, but it might not do enough for your tastes.
  • Dojo Toolkit — Dojo holds lots of promise, and, to be fair, it’s still in early development. Right now, they’ve got their basic “io” package available, and that’s what does the Ajax. Besides that, they plan on releasing a full javascript library of ajax enabled widgets, which is really, really cool. Some of the developers work for Jot, which is sort of a wiki-meets-excel macros company aiming to do lots of cool things to get at the “long tail” of application development that’s currently filled by simple excel macros. Oh, and other devs worked on previous projects like nwidgets, prototype, and f(m).
  • Toxic — Toolkit for Ajax + PHP, allows javascript to call PHP functions. From the site, “Callbacks can have a “soft” or “hard” binding making it easy to call calbacks in javascript from PHP. Even exceptions thrown in PHP are tranferred and can be caught as normal in javascript.”
  • CFAjax Toolkit for Ajax + ColdFusion. From the site, “[CFAjax] makes coldfusion method calls on server directly from HTML page using JavaScript and return backs the result to the calling HTML page. CFAjax comes with simple to use JavaScript API and simple coldfusion implementation that marshal’s the response between your CF methods and HTML page”
  • libXmlRequestLibrary – fairly straightforward javascript library for handling xmlhttprequest
  • Multiple Text Applicator — This is a really cool-looking ajax-based dynamic list creator. It’s cool because it takes very little code to get a nice looking widget.
  • BackBase — Commercial Ajax Toolkit, with a free community edition. They probably do more than just ajax. Any comments?
  • AjaxAC — “AjaxAC is an open-source framework written in PHP, used to develop/create/generate AJAX applications. The fundamental idea behind AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) is to use the XMLHttpRequest object to change a web page state using background HTTP sub-requests without reloading the entire page. It is released under the terms of the Apache License v2.0.” What I like about AjaxAC is their demo, which is a Country/City/State finder that loads data as you make selections.

Tools for Ajax

  • Greasemonkey Ajax Debugger — Greasemonkey script for debugging ajax. “What it shows is the XMLHttpRequest debugging console, a floating div embedded in the page being debugged. This replaces the javascript console, which the previous script used for tracing.”

Non Ajax Toolkits

  • qooxdoo — This is a rich application framework for the web. — “qooxdoo is an Open Source (licensed under LGPL) DOM-based javascript toolkit.”
  • Prototype
  • Visual Effects for Prototype — Library that uses the Prototype library to provide some interesting browser based visual effects
  • Drag and Drop with Prototype — Drag and Drop DOM objects, implemented using the Prototype javascript toolkit.
  • flashjs — “The Flash JavaScript Integration Kit allows developers to get the best of the Flash and HTML worlds by enabling JavaScript to invoke ActionScript functions, and vice versa. All major data types can be passed between the two environments.”
  • f(m) — This one is pretty neat, it’s a Javascript / Emcascript implementation of many of Microsoft’s .NET framework objects. I think you’d really have to whack yourself in the head to start using this, but once you did, it’d be pretty neat.
  • DOM-Drag — “DOM-Drag is a lightweight, easy to use, dragging API for modern DHTML browsers.”
  • Javascript Gamelib — A gaming library for javascript, which includes the building blocks you need for game development such as routines for animation, sprites, collision detection and control.

Interesting Uses

  • WebCmd – Web based command line interpreter using libXmlRequest
  • Sproutliner — This is an emerging service/open source application that provides todo list functionality using ajax
  • Ajaxing the Address Bar This is just a fairly straightforward discussion of how you can do more with ajax + search than google suggest. You can actually drive the search via ajax, which is interesting, though I’m not sure how usable it will be. It’s certainly interesting. Someone has to have come up with Google search results via API key driven by ajax by now. I can’t really think of how this would end up producing a better search experience for me — I mean, I’m pretty efficient w/ google searching, using firefox tabs, etc. Search rethought of as placing results in a “shopping cart” to be saved would be a neat idea.Actually, I’d like to see a greasemonkey plugin for posting things to delicious easier. That would be cool.

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7 thoughts on “Rich Web Frameworks, Toolkits, Example Projects, and Ajax”

  1. Hiya :) quick note about wick: if you check out the “feature request” page, you’ll see that XmlHttpRequest is the one feature wick does NOT *yet* have, it is however on my roadmap so we can use it like google suggest. I’ve been very very busy lately between work and other side projects, but i’m hoping within a month or so i’ll have it out there :)

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