“Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is a Java software development framework that makes writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easy for developers who don’t speak browser quirks as a second language,” says the characteristically bright and breezy Google website devoted to its new beta toolkit.

“Writing dynamic web applications today is a tedious and error-prone process,” the site continues. “You spend 90% of your time working around subtle incompatabilities between web browsers and platforms, and JavaScript’s lack of modularity makes sharing, testing, and reusing AJAX components difficult and fragile.”

The answer to this is, Google says, GWT:

“GWT lets you avoid many of these headaches while offering your users the same dynamic, standards-compliant experience. You write your front end in the Java programming language, and the GWT compiler converts your Java classes to browser-compliant JavaScript and HTML.”

Available completely free, Google Web Toolkit ships with a Java-to-JavaScript compiler and a special web browser that helps debug GWT applications. It’s available – for non-commercial, commercial, and enterprise applications – in all countries and should work for most languages, Google says, though documentation is currently only available in U.S. English.The company says that it is releasing GWT in beta “to get feedback from the developer community.”

“We expect to update the GWT class libraries and development tools based on this feedback, and once we’re confident that GWT developers are satisfied with the features and stability of the GWT tools, we’ll remove the beta label. In the meantime, you should expect the APIs to change in upcoming versions of the product.”

GWT is designed to run on systems that meet the following requirements:

  • Java: Sun Java 2 Runtime Environment 1.4.2+
  • Operating system: Windows XP, Windows 2000, or Linux w/ GTK+ 2.2.1+
  • Hardware: ~100MB of free disk space, 512MB RAM