Why GWT is now ready for mass use – or why Super Dev mode rocks

As I first got the company where I currently I work, I got excited to get my first real dive into the web world.
Till then I did some web hacking, nothing fancy.
My problem was with the chosen web framework – GWT, (back then it was 2.2).

As a web developer who wrote client mostly in javascript I was amazed by the sluggishness of the development cycle.
Especially when debugging locally.
Every time I needed to make a change on the eclipse (my ide) and reflect it on the browser, the whole environment got stuck. Mainly because of the GWT architecture involving a C++ plugin on the browser side

GWT Typical Dev Mode by Thomas Broyer

For me this caused a hugh frustration, as I was used to near live reflection of code changes.

Further more, on every ~10 refreshes or so, I needed to stop the debugged process, and relaunch it, as too much memory was consumed / leaked (you choose).

Introducing Super Dev Mode + Source Maps

I think it all started when the guys at mozilla introduce Rapid Releases, aka the Aurora channel. Basically it meant a new version of the browser is released every 6 weeks, making it almost impossible to support the GWT plugin for each browser on each platform.

The guys at google started working on a new way to debug compiled javascript, first introduced in closure compiler.
and along with Mozilla, they got to something called Source Maps.

Source Maps allows us to Debug Java code directly on chrome

This is Java code running inside chrome browser with full debugging functionality coming from a screenshot I just took that uses the latest GWT 2.5RC features.

One missing link is the Super Dev mode.

SuperDev to the rescue

With the release of GWT 2.5 a new development mode was introduced called Super Dev Mode.
With super dev one could start a Gwt Code Server, launch his app, and with a press on a browser bookmarkelt he could recompile the app in draft mode in less then 10 seconds (Mine took around 4 second to build).

Epilogue – GWT is heading for some golden day

With those feature getting to stable state, GWT is heading for some glory, as it passes the bar and finally get to be mature like her equivalent web frameworks by gaining the development speed that one would expect.

Jump to Minute 16:14 for the interesting part (Source Maps + Super Dev Mode)


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