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May 27 2008   2:55PM GMT

Google Web Toolkit grows up with Java 5 support

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

A new version of the Google Web Toolkit (Gwit to Google insiders), promises full support for the latest Java language as well as faster-running apps at the end of the process.

GWT 1.5 will be formally introduced by Google’s top engineer Vic Gundotra Wednesday at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco and be available for download within days.
“The biggest news is the Java 5 language support. Java itself has evolved a lot in the last few yeas and GWT 1.5 supports those new language features including the more modern syntax, generics and enumerated types,” said Google engineering manager Bruce Johnson.
As before, the goal of GWT is to make it easier for developers to create JavaScript code that can run on a wide variety of devices.

Johnson said early testers report better application performance. “Additional compiler optimizations in 1.5 result in noticeable application performance improvement,’ Johnson claimed.
Alex Moffat , engineering manager at Lombardi, Austin, Texas, is fully aboard. “The big benefit in 1.5, he says, is the support for all the new Java 5 syntax improvements. “They’ve added support for generics so you can write code that gives the compiler more information so you can catch more errors at compile time. You can now avoid a whole class of mistakes,” Moffat said.
Much of Lombardi’s Blueprint document discovery tool’s front end was written in GWT while the backend is all Java.

“If you are a Java shop, you’d have to be an idiot not to use GWT for the Web front end these days,” Moffat said. Non Java (i.e. .Net) shops would have to acquire Java expertise before venturing in.

With GWT, Google is making a play for business developers. Companies like Queplix, Contact Office, DoubleCheck LLC and Lombardi Software all use the current GWT 1.4 to develop applications ranging from customer care to business process management. 

This year Google  is even charging conference admission fee for the first time,  apparently trying to weed out non-serious programmers.  

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

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