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An Ajax talk over an Espresso

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Prepare your coffee, steamy hot, to enjoy this little chat about Ajax.

Ajax is a new mix of technologies to save time, make your website more interactive, responsive and easy to use. The web will recover from wasting time on annoying reloading web-pages with the use of Ajax. Your users wont have to wait when JavaScript makes request to the web servers. You can still type in forms, click buttons or links while web server is working in the background. Then when the servers are done the part of the page is updated where changes are needed. But you are never waiting around.

What is Ajax?

Jesse James Garrett coined the term Ajax. Ajax stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and Xml, but it is not an acronym for the same. Ajax is a way to communicate with the server without refreshing the whole page. Till now web applications have been a walkie talkie system. Once you have done the talking(fill a web form), say over(send request), you’ll get response from the server and your page is reloaded. Ajax had put an end to this. Though web still depends upon request response method, but here JavaScript code in Ajax sends a request to the server and while it works to send back a respond, you don’t have to wait to get it reloaded. You can still work on the other parts of the page. With a bit of knowledge about HTML, CSS and JavaScript it would be very easy to work with it. According to Garrett:-

“Ajax isn’t a technology. It’s really several technologies, each flourishing in its own right, coming together in powerful new ways. Ajax incorporates:
  • standards-based presentation using XHTML and CSS;
  • dynamic display and interaction using the Document Object Model;
  • data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT;
  • asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest;
  • and JavaScript binding everything together.
The classic web application model works like this: Most user actions in the interface trigger an HTTP request back to a web server. The server does some processing — retrieving data, crunching numbers, talking to various legacy systems — and then returns an HTML page to the client.”

This article is a must read.

How can Ajax help?

1. Clicking on archieves or calendar, changes the post content of your blog.
2. HTML is produced locally so you can save your band width on those heavy traffic days.
3. Improves user interface.
4. It has ability to deliver cross platform, cross browser and desktop quality applications.
5. Can provide Drag and drop feature.
6. Reduces coding that would be needed for the same web application to make it as interactive.

A few good Ajax examples…

1. The biggest and most premium example of Ajax Users is Google. Orkut, Gmail, Google Maps, Google groups are all Ajax applications.

2. Go2Web2.0 have changed their user interface and added Ajax components to their site. Clicking on a logo will not move any part of the page except the bottom where its description is displayed changes, and till it is loading you can still look for other logos.

3. Ajaxpress is a brand new Ajax based blogging system built on PHP and Javascript and a MySQL backend. It may look a little limited because this is its first version updated. It would be interesting to follow up this one.

4. Writely- A web word processor and highly specialized application with a range of fonts, spell checker and embedded pictures, etc.

5. Kiko- Online calendar solution based on Ajax, easy to use, drag and drop, manage groups and content, create tags for your appointments uses cool pastels which are pretty soothing.

Ajax is one of the most happening technologies today and is here to stay. I hope you enjoyed your coffee.

Till next time,
Happy Blogging,
Divya Uttam.

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posted by Divya Uttam, 1:26 PM


I agree with you Divya that Ajax is a good technology and website looks more interactive.
I am using ajax here in a page
But I think my whole effort will not work if someone disable javascript in his browser and then want to use my technology. :)

commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 6:52 AM  

Thats one drawback but it rarely happens now. People enable it for better online experience.

commented by Blogger Divya Uttam, 10:45 AM  

I'm a little apprehensive about writing this because you might take it otherwise. But then you write about blogging and ways to improve blogs, so i guess that you might not mind some feedback from a reader.

When i read your post i felt that the first paragraph could have been more crisp. Something like, Ajax is a programming language that serves the purpose of communicating with the server using 'minimal data transfer'. And then explaining that when you fill-in a form and submit it you can not only work on other parts of the page but as a result of the form submission only certain parts of the page are reloaded(fetched from the server), instead of fetching the complete page. Ajax does as much work as possible on the client side, minimizing the need for exchanging data with the server.

Once again this is just a feedback. You have a lot more experience than be in blogging so i look forward to learning from you. :)

commented by Blogger Kshitij, 2:07 AM  

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