Tonight I'm in Mountain View attending the inaugural meeting for the new Silicon Valley Google Technology User Group (SV-GTUG). The good news about this meeting is Bob plans to discuss some of the new features in the GWT 1.5 release. Although it is not available yet, it sounds like they are putting the finishing touches on the 1.5 release and that it will be available soon.
The first ting I've learned is that GWT is actually pronounced "gwit". Bob is a member of the GWT team and he's the only one that's not based out of Atlanta. GWT has a very Swing-like programming model. It has widgets, panels and windows and operates very much like a traditional UI programming API. To create an application, you create a class that implements EntryPoint. Below is an example Hello World application.
GWT provides a RemoteService for client code and a RemoteServiceServlet for server-side code that you can use to implement RPC calls. For more information, see the Remote Procedure Calls documentation.
At this point, we're 45 minutes into the presentation and it's pretty disappointing. This is likely because there's no presentation and Bob doesn't seem to have any sort of agenda. I think this type of presentation would work well if folks had experience with GWT and were asking lots of questions. However, it seems that most folks haven't used GWT - so the questions (and his resulting answers) aren't very meaty.
One attendee asked about making GWT applications SEO-able. Bob's suggested solution is to continue to use Servlet or JSPs to render the page, but then use GWT to for the user interaction that needs to happen within the page. The RootPanel class has a get(String id) method that can be used to put the GWT application into a particular div or other placeholder.
Google Base and Google Checkout are currently using GWT. There's also a lot of Google internal development that uses GWT. Apparently, there's quite a few applications built with GWT that haven't launched yet.
Has anyone used the Maven Gwt Plugin? It sounds like it might be pretty nice as it contains the GWT compiler with no OS-dependent Google tooling.
GWT's mission statement:
GWT's mission is to radically improve the web experience for users by enabling developers to use existing Java tools to build no-compromise AJAX for any modern browser.
GWT's competition according to Bob - Visual Studio.