Friday, March 28, 2008

The Beauty of Dojo 1.1

The Dojo JavaScript Toolkit version 1.1 is available:
There are lots of goodies in this release (see the release notes for full details), but here are some of the new features that resonate with me. I am primarily a Dojo Core user, not much Dijit or Dojox. For other perspectives on the new features, see the 1.1 blog announcement, and Shane O'Sullivan's blog post.

Multiversion Support
One of the slicker features (IMO, since I added it) is multiversion support: you can now run Dojo 1.1 with other versions of Dojo in the page without conflicting. You can also choose to rename dojo, dijit and dojox to other names. As proof:
The multiversion support is great if you want to provide your own JS library, but use Dojo underneath. What is even cooler: multiversion support works from the CDN (see the source for the examples above)! So if you are thinking of migrating from an older Dojo version, you can experiment with Dojo 1.1 in a new namespace without having to download 1.1.

Load Dojo after page load
Dojo 1.1 can can be loaded after page load (after the window.onload event fires) by setting djConfig.afterOnLoad to true. This makes the initial render cost for using Dojo near zero, and it plays nice if you want to do extreme progressive enhancement. Use the new djConfig option in conjunction with djConfig.require, to load dojo along with the modules you needed dojo.required after dojo loads. See the the demo page for an example.

Adobe AIR support
Dojo now provides strong support for AIR in addition to Dojo's existing integration with Google Gears via dojox.offline.

Client-side data storage via
If you want client side data storage, gives you a few options, and auto-detects the best one. has been updated to allow for using Dojo Gears, HTML 5 DOM storage, Flash or AIR DB storage.

Build system CSS optimizations
The build system will now inline @import calls that are in .css files in addition to stripping comments and whitespace in .css files. See the New Build Options section.

Try it out!
If you would like to try Dojo, but are not sure how to start, you can always start small: If you just use Dojo Base (one file, dojo.xd.js, from the CDN), you get a solid JavaScript base that makes building progressively enhanced sites much more enjoyable. A rough run-down of the Dojo Base functionality can be found here. That article is for Dojo 0.9, but it still applies for 1.1. Dojo 1.1 is slightly larger than the numbers quoted for 0.9: The 1.1 dojo.xd.js is 29KB gzipped. See the 1.1 release notes for the new features that account for the size increase.

I prefer to stick with Dojo Base, with some additions from the Core modules (like, which allows using JSONP APIs, like the ones provided by Web AIM). This is how I approached development for the AIM Chat web site and for the iPhone IM web app TinyBuddy IM. But given Dojo's depth, I was able to leverage the Dijit widgets to create a simple admin site for AIM Chat by adding in a few more dojo.require calls. Sweet!

I am really amazed at the amount of work that has gone into Dojo 1.1. The more I use it, the more I feel it is the complete JavaScript toolkit solution. You can do the small, quick progressively enhanced web sites using just Dojo Base from the AOL CDN, but scale all the way up to very rich experiences that use the full power of widgets, awesome data stores, offline storage, and incredible 2-D drawing capabilities (with charting!).

I feel the Dojo community is really hitting their stride now. Great job everyone!

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