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Introduction to Adobe's BlazeDS

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Frank Sommers

Posts: 2642
Nickname: fsommers
Registered: Jan, 2002

Introduction to Adobe's BlazeDS Posted: Jun 11, 2008 8:09 PM
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While rich-client technologies enjoyed much progress in recent years, most of that development has centered around client-side frameworks. Dojo, Prototype, YUI, Flex, and a host of other Ajax libraries, make it relatively easy to build visually attractive user interfaces that live in a browser window.

At the same time, almost all rich-client applications rely on one or more server-side data sources. Generic communication protocols used over HTTP, such as XML-over-HTTP, are verbose and require a lot of extra information to traverse the network. In the Flash community, Adobe's Action Message Format (AMF) emerged as a more efficient, and faster, remote communication protocol. Last year, Adobe open-sourced AMF and BlazeDS, a Java-based communication framework built on top of AMF. The latest version of BlazeDS supports remote invocation from regular JavaScript clients as well as from Flex and Flash.

In a recent article, Building Web and Desktop Applications with BlazeDS and AMF, Shashank Tiwari discusses the benefits of using BlazeDS and AMF in rich-client enterprise applications. The article points out that ease-of-development as well as better performance are two key benefits of using AMF and BlazeDS:

Regardless of the server-side technology in place, some sort of network communication is needed when the client-side application running in Flash Player or Adobe AIR needs to communicate with the server. Usually this communication happens over HTTP - the same protocol used by the web browser to load web pages and applications. But differences in how data is passed over HTTP can dramatically reduce application performance as well as developer productivity...

One downside to text-based protocols like XML is that the additional layer of data abstraction is usually cumbersome to write and maintain. In addition, this data abstraction layer consumes resources on the server-side and client-side when the data is serialized and deserialized...

Action Message Format (AMF) [is a] binary protocol for exchanging data can be used over HTTP in place of text-based protocols that transmit XML. Applications using AMF can eliminate an unnecessary data abstraction layer and communicate more efficiently with servers...

In the article, Tiwari highlights the fact that BlazeDS is a Java-based AMF implementation, and that it makes Flex-to-Java or JavaScript-to-Java communication especially easy:

BlazeDS includes a Java implementation of AMF which is used for remotely communicating with server-side Java objects as well as for passing messages between clients. BlazeDS remoting technology allows developers to easily call methods on Plain old Java objects (POJOs), Spring services, or EJBs. Developers can use the messaging system to easily send messages from the client to the server or from the server to client. BlazeDS can also be linked to other messaging systems such as JMS or ActiveMQ. Because the remoting and messaging technologies use AMF over HTTP they gain the performance benefits of AMF as well as the simplicity of not having to deal with an additional data abstraction layer.

What do you think of BlazeDS as a remote communication tool?

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