Monday, October 26, 2015

Using GWT as a thin layer over JavaScript?


Just a few minutes ago I wrote a message like this one, but I don't know where it has gone. Anyway, I'm going to try to reproduce it again.

I'm a developer who code both in Java and JavaScript. I use the former to make the back-ends, and the later for the front-ends. Nothing new, I know. But I aimed my career so much to Java, that I missed out much about JavaScript. I kept using my own and old fashioned JavaScript libraries. But now I want to change that to be more productive. My problem is that I'm getting tired of the dynamic typing, among other ugly thing of JavaScript (i.e. lack of native modules; although that's going to change with ECMAScript 6). That led me to consider TypeScript and GWT.

I'm "arriving" late to GWT. Some people have even recommended me to stay away from it. However, I also want to hear from people who use GWT daily.

I want to know if it's possible to use GWT without abstracting the DOM too much, just as a thin layer over JavaScript. I'm interested in using the widgets, of course. But I also want to be sure that I can manipulate the DOM if I needed (customers tend to make you change very specific parts). I've read about Elemental. But I seems to be tied to WebKit too much and that it's experimental yet. I've also read about GwtQuery or GQuery. Is it the thing that I need? Is it still maintained and receive new features?

Other topic that worries me it's the UI design. I feel comfortable with HTML and CSS. In GWT, you can make the UI in a programmatic way or in a declarative way, using UiBinder. I think that I would choose the last one, because it would give me a better picture of the whole interface, and because it's more similar to how I work with HTML. But, Could I mix HTML without much hassle? Are there common problems that I must be aware about?

Finally, I've read that there will be a new GWTCon in November, in Florenze (Italy), and there will be news about GWT 3.0. Given that GWT 3.0 could suppose a break from the 2.x series, Do you recommend me to wait until the version 3.0 is released, so that I don't have to "un-learn" many things?

Thank you!

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