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From "Niclas Hedhman" <>
Subject Re: [PROPOSAL] Pivot
Date Tue, 06 Jan 2009 02:00:17 GMT
As expected, I think this project is really interesting and have a
potential of succeeding, not because it is a standard, but because it
is not... It is not killed by a committee and doesn't need to take
into considerations from Sun, IBM and other power players, who are
cautiously guarding their investments.

The project has come a long way on its own, proving to survive both
with and without company backing, and I think there is enough 'flaws'
for people to step in a scratch, i.e. growing the developer community,
yet it is in state of usefulness already....


On Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 10:03 PM, Greg Brown <> wrote:
> Hello all,
> The Pivot team would like to present the Pivot toolkit for consideration to
> the Apache Incubator. We are excited about the prospect of joining the
> Incubator and are looking forward to your feedback.
> Thanks,
> Greg Brown
> Abstract
> Pivot ( is an open-source platform for building
> rich internet applications in Java.
> Proposal
> Pivot combines the enhanced productivity and usability features of a modern
> RIA toolkit with the robustness of the Java platform. Pivot applications are
> written using a combination of Java and XML and can be run either as an
> applet or as a standalone, optionally offline, desktop application.
> Like other modern development platforms, Pivot provides a comprehensive set
> of foundation classes that together comprise a "framework". These classes
> form the building blocks upon which more complex and sophisticated
> applications can be built.
> Pivot was designed to be familiar to web developers who have experience
> building AJAX applications using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. However, it
> provides a much richer set of standard widgets than HTML, and allows
> developers to create sophisticated user experiences much more quickly and
> easily. Pivot will also seem familiar to Swing developers, as both Swing and
> Pivot are based on Java2D and employ a model-view-controller (MVC)
> architecture to separate component data from presentation. However, Pivot
> includes additional features that make building modern GUI applications much
> easier, including declarative UI, data binding, effects and transitions, and
> web services integration.
> Background
> The web has become the defacto standard method for application delivery.
> However, functional requirements for web applications have begun to scale
> beyond the capabilities of the browser. Even with the addition of scripting
> support, dynamic element manipulation, and asynchronous server
> communication, it is difficult to create a user experience in HTML that is
> truly on par with that of a desktop application.
> Rich internet application (RIA) development platforms are a means of
> bridging the gap between the web and desktop experiences. Using browser
> plugins, these platforms allow developers to build applications that look
> and feel more like native desktop applications but are deployable via the
> web, like traditional, HTML-based web applications. RIAs also often
> incorporate visual effects intended to enhance the overall user experience,
> such as animations and other dynamic behavior.
> Adobe Flex ( and Microsoft Silverlight
> ( are arguably the most high-profile of
> these platforms; others include OpenLaszlo ( and
> Curl ( Pivot itself falls into this category.
> Rationale
> Pivot was created for two primary reasons:
> 1) To provide a viable option for developers who want to build rich client
> applications in Java. Flex applications are written in ActionScript, an
> ECMAScript variant; Silverlight applications can be written in either C# or
> JavaScript; OpenLaszlo applications are written in JavaScript. Pivot allows
> developers to write rich internet applications in Java (or any other
> language that can run in a JVM).
> 2) Provide a freely-available, open source alternative for RIA developers.
> Flex, Silverlight, and Curl are all proprietary platforms. We believe that a
> large part of HTML's success was its due to its openness. While we certainly
> hope that developers will use Pivot to build revenue-generating products and
> applications, we believe that the platform itself should be free and driven
> by its technological merits, not by corporate objectives.
> - Comparision to Other Java-Based RIA Platforms
> Swing
> While it is technically feasible to build an RIA in Java using the Swing
> toolkit (, Pivot offers a
> number of advantages that make it a more compelling, modern alternative:
> - Provides an XML markup language called WTKX for simplifying user interface
> construction. Flex, Silverlight, and OpenLaszlo all offer a similar feature;
> web developers are comfortable with the markup metaphor, and it can
> considerably reduce overall development time.
> - Components are not limited to an "atomic" preferred size; they are allowed
> to report a preferred size as constrained by either width or height - this
> facilitates such features as label wrapping, which Swing does not support.
> - Defines a consistent data model that is used throughout the entire
> framework; for example, JSON data returned from a REST service is serialized
> into the same data structures used by a table view component to present
> data. No additional translation is necessary, which can significantly
> improve performance. A common data model also reduces the learning curve for
> new developers.
> - Includes built-in support for REST-based data services, which Pivot calls
> "web queries". This provides parity with Flex, which comes with
> out-of-the-box support for RPC via the AMF protocol, and Silverlight, which
> supports both SOAP and REST-style services. Swing does not include any
> built-in facilities for server communication, making it less convenient to
> work with.
> Note, however, that Pivot is not limited to REST for server communication.
> Because it runs in a JRE, a Pivot application can take advantage of any
> client/server protocol that has a Java API; for example:
>  - SOAP-based services via Axis (
>  - Flex RPC using the BlazeDS AMF client
> (
>  - Google Contacts via the Google-provided Java client
> (
> The current source includes examples of the latter two.
> - Includes built-in data binding support, which allows data returned from
> web queries (as well as other types of data services) to easily be mapped to
> form contents.
> - Includes platform-level support for visual effects and transitions (i.e.
> animations).
> - Defines a single Application inteface that is used for deploying both
> desktop and web-based applications - multiple codebases are not required.
> - Takes advantage of newer Java language features such as generics, enums,
> for..each, and annotations.
> JavaFX
> Pivot differentiates itself from the recently-released JavaFX primarily by
> allowing developers to build applications in Java, rather than the new
> JavaFX scripting language. Additionally, JavaFX's widget support is based on
> Swing, which suffers from the limitations outlined above.
> In a sense, Pivot represents what we think Sun should have done instead of
> JavaFX.
> While GWT allows developers to use the Java language to write web-based
> applications, the runtime enviroment for a GWT application is the browser
> itself, not a JVM. This has a number of drawbacks:
> - The compiled code executes as interpreted JavaScript, not bytecode.
> - The only libraries available are those that have been ported to GWT by
> Google.
> - All presentation must be done via CSS and DOM manipulation rather than via
> a true 2D drawing API.
> Additionally, GWT does not support an XML markup language - all UI elements
> must be created programmatically.
> Pivot allows developers to efficiently construct RIAs that can truly take
> advantage of the Java platform.
> Current Status
> Pivot began as an R&D effort at VMware. It  was announced as an open-source
> project in June of 2008 under the Apache 2.0 license. Version 1.0 was
> released in October, 2008, and version 1.1 is targeted for release in early
> 2009. Pivot is currently hosted at with development
> at
> - Core Developers
> Thus far, Pivot has been developed primarily Greg Brown and Todd Volkert of
> VMware.
> - Community/Meritocracy
> The Pivot team is actively striving to build a development community around
> the Pivot platform, consisting of both users and contributing developers.
> Although we are pleased with the progress we have made to date, Pivot is a
> large undertaking that needs the support of a larger developer base if it is
> to succeed and thrive.
> We have written numerous articles and blog entries about Pivot to help
> generate interest in the developer community, and will continue to do so as
> new features are added and new versions released. We have established a
> Google Group for discussion of Pivot-related issues
> ( where feedback is solicited
> and highly encouraged.
> As developers (hopefully) begin to express an interest in using and helping
> to expand Pivot, their contributions will be evaluated and incorporated as
> appropriate. Several contributions from several external developers were
> actually accepted before we released version 1.0 - notably, both the Pivot
> Explorer tool and the pivot.core.util.Resources class used for localization
> were provided by outside developers who volunteered to join the project
> after reading our initial announcement.
> - Alignment
> We use Ant to build and deploy Pivot, and we host our web-based components
> in Tomcat.
> The Apache developer community is representative of our target audience -
> developers who seek out and advocate high-quality, open-source software
> projects. We consider ourselves to be members of that group, and we are
> hoping to share our work with other like-minded developers.
> Known Risks
> - Orphaned Products
> This project will not be orphaned. The developers have already invested a
> significant amount of time in the project, much of it in off-hours. Greg has
> been working on Pivot since August 2007 and Todd since January 2008. We pay
> to host the project site,, out of our own pockets.
> Additionally, at least one production application is currently being
> developed with Pivot. We want to see this project become successful, and we
> will continue to invest whatever time is necessary to help make it so.
> - Inexperience with Open Source
> Pivot has been conceived as an open-source project since day one. However,
> though we are longtime users of open source software and have some
> understanding of the process, we have no prior experience managing an
> open-source effort. We are hoping that the community experience within ASF
> can help bring our understanding to the next level.
> - Homogenous Developers
> While Pivot's primary developers work for VMware in Boston, Massachusetts,
> Pivot is not a VMware project. Most Pivot development takes place outside of
> work hours.
> Pivot is a highly-modularized framework that lends itself well to
> heterogenous development. We have already received code submissions from
> developers elsewhere in the U.S., Germany, Italy, Canada, and the U.K. We
> are hoping that, as the capabilities of the framework expand, it will lead
> to an increase in overall developer interest and an acceleration of the
> development process.
> - Reliance on Salaried Developers
> Pivot began as an off-hours side project. It was officially supported by
> VMware for a short time, but was dropped in June, 2008 when the company
> decided to pursue an off-the-shelf UI solution instead of a homegrown one.
> It has continued as an off-hours project since then.
> The *lack* of an ability to rely on salaried developers for development may
> actually be more of a risk to the project. Most work must be done in
> off-hours, which may occasionally limit our ability to make progress.
> Documentation
> Additional information is available from the project site:
> Initial Source
> Source code for Pivot is currently hosted at Google Code:
> Source and Intellectual Property Submission Plan
> VMware released Pivot as an open-source project under the Apache 2.0 license
> in June, 2008 but retains a copyright on the code. VMware has agreed to sign
> a software grant for the codebase; a signed copy of the agreement was faxed
> to the ASF on 12/22/2008.
> External Dependencies
> Pivot is a Java-based toolkit and relies on a JRE for execution. Pivot's
> charting library currently relies on JFreeChart ( 1.0.9;
> however, charting is an optional package and JFreeChart is not integral to
> the implementation (i.e. it could be replaced with another charting package
> with no impact to the Pivot charting API).
> Required Resources
> - Subversion repository
> - Issue tracking
> - Dev., user, commits, and private mailing lists
> - Wiki space
> - Web hosting (for content currently hosted at
> - SSL certificate (for code signing)
> Initial Committers
> Greg Brown, Todd Volkert - VMware (
> Eugene Ryzhikov - Florida Power and Light (
> Christopher Brind - unknown
> Sandro Martini - Technomind (
> Affiliations
> No relevant affiliations.
> Sponsors
> - Champion: Niclas Hedhman
> - Nominated Mentors: Niclas Hedhman
> - Sponsoring Entity: Incubator PMC
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