So there i am. Just for the record, i dont want to go with server-side, template based frameworks like Wicket, Struts2, Spring WebMVC or the likes anymore. Because most of them force you to think about getting all the RIA widgets from jQuery or something. This turned out be a nightmare for our current products version. I want a all-in solution with the best widget support possible and even more important, all the widgets should be themeable the same way and should have the programming style. This is something you dont get with jQuery plugins.
Something i dont bother is the pricing questions. For a company earning money with software development, it doesnt matter if a product is free or has a developer license from 0 - 2000$, but something i cant agree on is CPU licensing because we sell a product more than once.
From a technical standpoint Ext GWT and SmartGWT are quite equal apart from the fact that Smart has more to offer on the server side. Vaadin with its complete different apprach (not from the programming style but from runtime behavior) needs to be compared in a different fashion. Things like GUI responsiveness and overall performance must be carefully checked. But on the pro side you have a very small js client with vaadin which results in fast startup in the browser. On the other hand, our product is a business product and we are planing to rewrite the AdminConsole. This is something that will be used in intranets in 95% of the time. It doesnt make much of a differnece if you load 100k or 1Mb from inside the LAN.
Another important issue is the market relevance, industry adoption and backing company structure. At the end you dont win anything if you chose the best designed framework when the company behind it will close its doors anytime soon. From this perspective i dont think any of those 3 players are in danger. Sencha just got many millions from an investor, Vaadins company is also quite successfull and this over years and Isomorphic seems to have enough big customers to get some money out of the product. All three have regular release and enough inovation.
At this point i cant make the decission. I will read any of the documentations of the three players. I even ordered books from amazon because i really need to be sure that i make the best choice possible. Once i decided on one, we would need at least half a year or something to reengineer our application.
One thing to note: Isnt it lovely that java has so many framework options? On the one side its a lot of work to pick the right one for your business but more important is that you have so many good alternatives.