Monday, December 22, 2008

Another GWT Powered Web Site sendMeHome.com

It seems that these question always comes up on Google-Web-Toolkit group :
  • Who is using GWT?
  • Is GWT ready for prime time?
  • Why would anyone use GWT when they can use language X and toolkit Y?
  • Does Google even use GWT for their web pages?

I have been using GWT in a 24x7x365 day production environment for over two years now and I can tell you that GWT is ready to deliver on the promise of easy and reliable Ajax web development.

As for the question of 'who is using GWT?' I would like to share some information from the guys over at SendMeHome.com

Their site uses GWT and the GWT incubator project. I spoke with one of their developers and he was nice enough to share some details of their experience with GWT, what GWT widgets they are using, and their overall opinion on the Google Web Toolkit. Please see the details below:

SendMeHome was developed over the course of four months. We chose GWT to create SendMeHome as it allowed us to code in a familiar language (Java), provided a wide array of widgets, and could deliver the type of end user experience we wanted to provide.

Although the GWT compiler is quite intelligent and removes any unused functions and libraries at compile-time we wanted to keep SendMeHome as small as possible as some of our users may be accessing the site on a dial-up connection. To do this we consciously tried to only use widgets in the gwt jar file, these include:

  • Text Box / Password Text Box / Text Area / Rich Text Area
  • Radio Buttons and CheckBoxes
  • File Upload
  • Tree
  • iFrame
  • Toggle and Push Buttons
  • Grids and FlexTables
  • Just about every panel available, including the Tab, Decorator, Disclosure and Popup Panels

We initially broke our own rule when we discovered the Glass Panel from the incubator. We used it to create a “Lightbox Effect” for our login and error messages. However, we really began using Google’s other API’s when we developed our Stories feature. Stories allows you to track where a physical item travels to and lets you collect stories from the people it meets. To enhance Stories we integrated with Google Maps and YouTube and the process was stunningly simple. We now host all of our videos on YouTube and our users never have to visit YouTube.com or even have a YouTube account.

The only complaint we’ve had with GWT is that browsers cannot remember a user’s email and password easily. Otherwise it was been an absolute joy to work with and we are surprised that there aren’t more GWT apps out there!



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