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In contrast to conventional multi-page Web applications, an Ajax application is often developed as a single-page application in which content and structure are changed at runtime according to user interactions, asynchronous messages received from the server and the current state of the application. These features make Ajax applications quite hard to understand for programmers. The authors propose to support Ajax comprehension through reverse engineering. In this study, the authors propose a reverse-engineering tool, ReAjax, to build GUI-based state models from Ajax applications. ReAjax applies dynamic analysis and uses execution traces to generate a finite state machine of the target application GUI. They show that GUI-based state models obtained semi-automatically are similar to those obtained manually and they can be used for program understanding purposes. Finally, the authors summarise a case study and some usage scenarios in which ReAjax has been applied to five real Ajax applications with the purpose of evaluating its viability and effectiveness in recovering models.
Date of Publication: February 2012