The following is a snippet from my upcoming book which talks about Ajax4jsf and RichFaces names and historical perspective.
It’s a good idea to give you some background on how RichFaces was born and also tell you what Ajax4jsf is. Ajax4jsf has its roots in RichFaces. The Ajax4jsf framework was created and designed by Alexander Smirnov. In early 2005, he was looking to add a “hot” new technology along with the associated experience to his resume. Roughly at the same time, the concept of Ajax was being established by Jesse James Garrett. Meanwhile, JSF was starting to pick up steam. Alexander figured why not just merge the two, so it would be easy to have Ajax functionality within a JSF application. He figured this would be an excellent addition to his resume. He started the project on sourcforge.net and called it Telamon (taken from the Shakespeare play, Anthony and Cleopatra) and Ajax4jsf was born.
In the fall of that same year, Alexander joined Exadel and continued to develop the framework. Alexander’s goal was to create a tool that was easy to use and that could be used with any existing JSF component libraries. The first version of what would become Ajax4jsf was released in March 2006. It wasn’t quite a standalone thing, yet. Rather, it was part of a product called Exadel RichFaces. Later in the same year, RichFaces was split off and the Ajax4jsf framework was born. While RichFaces provided out-of-the-box components or what’s called a component-centric Ajax approach (components that do everything you need), Ajax4jsf provided what’s called page-wide Ajax support. You as a developer specify what parts of the page should be processed on the server after some client side user actions and what parts should be rendered back (rendering is happening on the server and then partial DOM updating on the client) after processing.
Ajax4jsf became an open source project hosted on Java.net while RichFaces became a commercial JSF component library. Fast-forward to March 2007. JBoss and Exadel forged a partnership where Ajax4jsf and RichFaces would now be under the JBoss umbrella and be called JBoss Ajax4jsf and JBoss RichFaces. RichFaces would now also be open source and free. In September 2007, JBoss and Exadel decided to recombine Ajax4jsf and RichFaces under the RichFaces name. It made sense as both libraries were now free and open source. Having just one product solved many version and compatibility issues that existed before, such as which version of Ajax4jsf works with what version of RichFaces? While today you will still see an a4j namespace used, the product is now called JBoss RichFaces.