Latest Ext JS 7.8 is now available. Learn more

Taking a Look at Sencha GXT and GWT

January 22, 2015 155 Views

I’m David Chandler, the new Developer Advocate for Sencha GXT. Having recently joined the Sencha GXT team, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on changes in the GWT ecosystem since GWT became fully open source in 2012 and talk about what’s coming up for Sencha GXT. You can learn about Sencha GXT in our upcoming webinar.

Best Practices for Building Enterprise Java Web Applications

February 10, 2015
10:00am PST

Best Practices for Building Java Web Applications

I am happy to report that the GWT ecosystem appears stronger than ever. According to Google’s Ray Cromwell, there are now 150,000 30-day active users of GWT, which makes it one of the most popular Web frameworks. This represents an increase of about 50% since the project became fully open source in 2012. In the last two years, GWT has enjoyed active community participation from ArcBees, Sencha, Vaadin, and many individual contributors besides Google.

Last year’s GWT.create conference drew over 700 attendees in the US and Europe and this year’s conference promises exciting updates on super dev mode, GSS (Closure stylesheets), Java 8, and the innards of Google’s brand new Inbox app, which is 70% GWT.

One major concern of GWT developers has been the gradual disappearance of classic dev mode, which has long been one of GWT’s strongest features because of browser plugin API changes. There was a brief period in which the tooling story was pretty ugly, especially on Mac, because Chrome and Safari both removed the API which was used by the GWT dev mode plugin. However, it appears that Google is not about to let 3,000 GWT developers within the company go without tooling. Thanks to GWT 2.7 and incremental compilation, the performance of the long-awaited super dev mode is now superior to classic dev mode for page refreshes and has the advantage of being completely platform independent. In fact, you can run super dev mode on a phone or tablet browser and debug on the desktop with Chrome Developer Tools via a USB connection. This was not possible with classic dev mode and is a huge boon to mobile Web developers.

While earlier versions of super dev mode were somewhat hard to configure and run, the latest versions of IntelliJ IDEA (14) and Google Plugin for Eclipse make it painless to launch SDM for GWT versions 2.5 and later, thanks to GWT community contributors including Manolo Carrasco (Vaadin) and Brandon Donnelson (Sencha). To see it in action, check out these screencasts:

Running GWT 2.7 Super Dev Mode in Eclipse with SDBG

Running GWT 2.7 Super Dev Mode in IDEA

GXT Update

Building on the success of GWT itself, the Sencha GXT team is planning major improvements for the GXT 4.0 release. The mobile web story gets better every day as mobile devices become more powerful. The recent unbundling of WebView from the Android OS and the ability to run super dev mode on WebView-based apps make mobile GWT development more attractive than ever. Sencha is building on these strengths by adding mobile-friendly features to GXT 4.0:

  • Touch support
  • Momentum scrolling
  • A new “Crisp” theme optimized for mobile

Also coming soon is a new graphical theme builder to make it easier to create custom themes. GXT 4.0 will make it easier than ever to create testable HTML5 apps that look good across desktop and tablets.

Prior versions of Sencha GXT

GXT 4.0 will incorporate bug fixes from the GXT 3.x platform, making it an easy migration for those who are currently on GXT 3.x. Sencha is making a significant new investment in the GXT platform. Besides new features like touch support, you can expect to see a lot more learning resources, screencasts, sample apps, and professional GXT training to make it easier to get started and build robust HTML5 application across multiple devices.

On a personal note, I am impressed with the capability and dedication of the growing GXT team. The team triages and fixes bugs daily, provides quality forum support, and has made significant contributions to the GWT community, especially the tooling, which is critical for GWT developers. I am pleased to be part of the team and am glad to be an active member of the GWT community again.

To stay abreast of the latest in GXT / GWT development, join our G+ community or see us at one of our upcoming events including GWT.create Silicon Valley and GWT.create Munich.

We will have several GXT tracks this year at SenchaCon 2015 and hope to see you there!