Emilio Suarez's WebLog

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dojo Toolkit

It's been a few weeks now that I have started learning Dojo and building a prototype for a web app and I have to say that I am impressed with the toolkit and how well it is architected.
To get me started, I started reading the book "Dojo: The Definitive Guide" from O'Reilly on my Safari bookshelf, and also ordered the print copy of the brand new "Mastering Dojo" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

The O'Reilly book is good, and it explains the basics of the Dojo Core components and the Dijit library of widgets. It does not go into any of the Dojox components that are still being worked on and are in various stages of maturity. But in general is a very comprehensive guide to everything you need to get started with Dojo.

On the other hand, "Mastering Dojo" goes deeper into the architecture of Dojo and how things work together. It even has a good section at the end where you build a simple RIA using all the components, widgets, layouts and connectors that you would use for building a complete application.

In general there is a steep learning curve to understand how to use all the things that Dojo provides, but once you start learning all of them, you get the full power of Dojo, which mainly hides all the complexities inherent to dealing with multiple browsers, asynchronous communications, component manipulation and object oriented programming in Javascript.
Another big thing that Dojo contributes, I think, is the open and extensible architecture that takes in consideration advances and changes to browsers and standards in the future, so that applications built now, can make use of the new features of the next generation of browsers with minimal impact.

I am still working my way learning it and exploring it, but so far, I am fairly confident that choosing Dojo was the right decision for building the next generation of web applications in my current job. There has been an explosion of Ajax-related libraries and frameworks in the last few years and I think Dojo is leading the pack with a very strong foundation.