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Programming IT Technology

AJAX Buzzword Reinvigorates Javascript 541

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the scripting-is-cool-again-now dept.
samuel4242 writes "Javascript may have been with us since the beginning of the browser, but it's going through a renaissance as companies like Google create Javascript-enabled tools like Google Maps . There's even a nice, newly coined acronym , AJAX for "Asynchronous Javascript and XML". A nice survey article from Infoworld interviews Javascript creator, Brendan Eich, who says that this is what he and Marc Andreessen planned from the beginning. Perhaps AJAX will finally deliver what Java promised. Perhaps it will really provide a solid way to distribute software seamlessly."
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AJAX Buzzword Reinvigorates Javascript

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:19AM (#12624346)
    cleaning tub
    cleaning toilet
    getting first post
    • I don't know about you, but between all the nuances in the javascript, and all the newances in the DOM, and trying to figure out where one starts and the other begins, and have you ever tried to figure out which functions/properties work correctly for which object, and have you ever tried to figure out which DOM to use and how to make DOM's of different browsers compatable, or even simply trying to figure out which objects are really on your web page, and then trying to deal with things like XML parsing on
      • by Jellybob (597204) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @02:55PM (#12626733) Journal
        The thing your missing is Prototype [conio.net] - a Javascript library which attempts (most successfully) to provide cross-platform objects to access common issues.

        It's worth the price just for the $() function, which does a document.getElementById() on the argument ;)
    • by nahdude812 (88157) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @03:11PM (#12626936) Homepage
      Oh, and getting all the Slashdot pundits on their soap boxes, preaching about technologies they don't really understand, and making dire predictions about the unworthiness of the tech.

      Seriously, being someone who actually has quite a bit of *real* experience with Ajax (though we were doing it before the term was coined) across multiple browsers, I can say that the ratio of comments which demonstrate the author understands the full implications of Ajax to those who are just spouting nonsense is about 1:75. I've never read an article on Slashdot before where so many comments missed the target, and I feel like I've been around Slashdot for a little while.

      The idea behind Ajax *does* revolutionize the web paradigm. All this nonsense about cross browser compatability issues is just that: nonsense; it works in Mozilla, Firefox, IE, Opera, and Konqueror each on their respective available platforms. I've actually heard people talking about "Ajax enabled advertisements instead of Flash." Other gems like "Ajax doesn't do anything that a well programmed web application can't do," and "It's just needlessly complex web pages" only point to users who fail to grasp the fundamental concept.

      Let me tell you: Ajax is FAST. You don't realize how unresponsive web pages are until you get to play with a web app that is always waiting on you, no the other way around. When I submit information, why do I need to wait for that information to get to the server before I can begin to perform another operation if that operation isn't dependant on the previous? Click Add To Cart then *immediately* start searching for the next item. Stuff like that.

      The amount of data being exchanged is far less (if you do it RIGHT, you people who are talking about using the XMLHttpRequest.responseText property, this does NOT include you). Rather than reload an entire page with all the framework, you're loading only the portion of the page that changed.

      Aside from piecemeal page loading, you also get to load only the relevant data. For example, rather than load a form, and all the form formatting to make the text fields line up correctly, and all the validation code to validate that form, you load a series of XML tags that contain only the basic information needed to tell the client how to lay out the form. The client takes care of generating the HTML for the form, and your form data looks more like this:
      <input name="username" label="User Name" required="yes" minlength="5" maxlength="10"/>
      versus
      <tr class="lightRow"><td class="labelColumn"><label for="username">User Name:</label></td><td class="inputColumn"><input id="username" name="username" maxlength="10"></td></tr>
      , then later form validation code.

      Often times your data fits inside a single TCP packet.

      I'll make this concession: yes, this is stuff that could be done before the Ajax philosophy using Flash or Java Applets. But both require a plugin, and one of them is even proprietary. Both have potential firewall issues, and neither will run on a vanilla Fedora Core build. Both require higher resource consumption for the user, and both lend to a feeling of sluggishness on the site for the user.

      That's not to say that it's not without its dangers. Like all web apps, you can't trust the data from the client. Here the client gets a bit lower level access to the data. You still have to make sure that you're protecting yourself well against data poisoning attacks.

      The thing I like most about this model though is this: It's truly a MVC (Model View Controller) framework.

      The model is of course your server side logic scripts. The View is the browser (the server side logic scripts send back generically formatted data, the browser does all the display). The Controller is the combination of XMLHttpRequest object, and the processing management script on the server. It's very conceivable that you could write a new front end for your application by simply
      • by drew (2081)
        nice to see that there are at least a few people around here who know what they're talking about on this subject. kind of hard to find a sane voice around here once somebody mentions javascript.

        what i don't understand is how many people act like they've never seen or heard of this before, and how it's some amazing new paradigm. IE 6.0 is 4 years old. all of the major mechanisms that are commonly used to perform asynchronous IO in webpages have been around more or less unchanged since before then. so wh
        • The big burst of interest is because Firefox, Opera, and Safari now support XmlHttpRequest, so you can deploy a public web application which uses it. And yes, gmail showed people how.

          Microsoft devs have known about this techinque for a while, but it was catgorized as one of those "Evil IE-Only ActiveX" things that you could only get away with in single platform intranet apps. I also think that most people coming from a non-MS webdev background don't really know anything about proprietary IE APIs other than
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The idea behind Ajax *does* revolutionize the web paradigm.

        Don't be silly. It's a nice optimisation. It's very useful, and I use it a lot, but it's not revolutionary.

        For example, rather than load a form, and all the form formatting to make the text fields line up correctly, and all the validation code to validate that form, you load a series of XML tags that contain only the basic information needed to tell the client how to lay out the form.

        Huh? An external stylesheet and generic script loaded

        • by elbobo (28495)
          Sounds like you've just made your application dependent upon Javascript. That's not good practice

          Don't be ridiculous. Web Applications must depend upon a client side programming language. Web pages need not depend on a client side programming language. Applications have specific target platforms and requirements. Pages however are expected to be at least viewable on a much broader range of browser platforms.

          Me thinks you're out of your depth.
  • Rewriting history? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:22AM (#12624372)
    Javascript may have been with us since the beginning of the browser...

    Huh? I don't seem to remember seeing it until about '96 or '97. That's just a wee bit later than the beginning of the browser...
    • If I recall it was created for Netscape 3. So definitely not the beginning of the browser.
      • by bhirsch (785803)
        Nope. It made its debut in Netscape 2, along with Java applets. The big hype was the ability for the two to interact, but it never really seemed to happen.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually it appears JavaScript debuted [netscape.com] in Netscape 2.0. (Link via this [sillydog.org].)
      • by brundlefly (189430) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @01:05PM (#12625536)
        JavaScript first arrived in Netscape 2. In that browser most of the core language was in place, making it one of the first ever prototype-based OO languages to go from concept to reality.

        But in Netscape 2, there were not very many hooks from JavaScript back into the HTML. You had a document object and a window object of course, but beyond that about the only "DHTML" you could do was mostly restricted to manipulating form values and popping open new windows. Useful, to be sure, but that was about it.

        In Netscape 3 they added the document.images array, and that began the whole image-swapping madness that got everyone hooked on JavaScript, for better or worse.

        And then in NS4/MSIE4 they added the competing, incompatible DOMs that got us into the hell years of DHTML. DHTML as a term arrived with the version 4 browsers.

        Give JavaScript some credit for surviving its own history... the language has been through some very rough years, only to now finally get some credit for being a powerful web tool.
    • the day IE4 came out was great fun, running round html enabled teen chat rooms that worked via meta refresh and adding <script> window.location="http://lemonparty.org"</script> and friends in =)

      and watching said boards go down one by one as admins rushed to work on their html tag filters :>

  • by 0kComputer (872064) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:23AM (#12624375)
    Isn't part of this due to Microsoft's non-complient browser API?

    Go ahead and mod me as flamebait.
  • Fry: [talking fast] These languages are on the fast-track to the it list; blastfax kudos all around.

    Leela: Uuh, hello! We haven't made one program since you two took over.

    "That Guy": Programming has nothing to do with the Programming business. buzzwords, people, buzzwords!
  • by mortonda (5175)
    Ruby on Rails [rubyonrails.com] has been working on this for some time, at least since the 0.11 release [rubyonrails.com] back in March. This is a wonderful technique for speeding up web applications. Browse around the web site, or hang out in IRC, and you will quickly see what all the excitement is all about.
    • Correct me if I'm wrong, but Ruby on Rails is server based and AJAX is browser based and I see no way to compare those concepts!?

      • by mortonda (5175) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:59AM (#12624817)
        True, RoR is server based, but AJAX requires an interaction between both client and server. RoR includes a javascript component called Prototype, which helps handle the client side of things. In addition, RoR includes many helper functions that help you write the appropriate javascript functions, without needing to know much javascript.
  • widget set (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oever (233119)
    What we need now (and Google has shown that it's feasable) is a Javascript based GUI.

    Gnome and KDE can conquer all desktops once they are ported to this AJAX framework.

    Where's the first javascript based window manager? Personalized Google is the first step in that direction.

  • by NardofDoom (821951) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:26AM (#12624415)
    ... until every browser does things the same. A lot of the current applications for Google Maps (like this one [chicagocrime.org]) don't work in Safari.

    Unless standards are complied with fully there can never be "one programming language" for web scripting. Anyone who's had to debug Javascript in IE that works in Firefox knows this.

    • If it's already working on firefox, why bother with IE? Just make sure it's working for safari and opera and be done with it.
      • why bother with IE?

        Are you kidding? Are you out of your mind? Are you trying to lose money?

        These are the things that my clients would say to me if I even asked: why bother with IE? IE still has ~90% of the browser market. If you decide to ignore IE, 90% of the world will ignore you, and you therefore reduce your revenues by 90%.

        You'd be better off ignoring all other browsers and focusing solely on IE than not supporting IE.

      • If it's already working on firefox, why bother with IE?

        You mean besides the fact that upwards of 80% of the audience of just about every website in the world uses IE?

        If your AJAX code is based on the W3C-approved DOM, there's really not all that much you have to do to make it work properly across all four modern render engines: Gecko, Safari, Opera, and IE.

        If you're still using 4.x browser hacks like "if (document.all)", well, that's another story entirely.
        • Well hopefully 4.x browsers are going to be in a rather sharp minority nowadays. I don't do a lot of fancy Javascript, mainly just form validation and the like, and I actually haven't had a compatibility issue in two or three years now. I don't even think about the older browsers. If someone is still running IE 5 or Netscape 4, then that's tough for them.
    • by md17 (68506) <james@NOsPam.jamesward.org> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:40AM (#12624585) Homepage
      This is why people are building component frameworks around AJAX. Component frameworks hide the messy browser specific details. This gives a developer who uses these components "one programming language" that works universally and provides a RIA experience.

      AJAX's fate does not rest on all browsers being in full compliance to the standards, it rests more on the implementation of AJAX components. You can read more about my view on this on my blog [64.233.167.104].
    • by neoform (551705)
      yeah, well i'm developping a web forum using all JS..

      http://www.cslacker.com/ [cslacker.com]

      works fine in IE, Firefox and Safari.. but IE's retarded CSS handling makes things dicey..
    • by arete (170676) <areteslashdot2@x i g . net> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @12:12PM (#12624925) Homepage
      It's quite possible to build powerful crossplatform applications for the web now - in Flash, Java or AJAX.

      One way is AJAX. To make it work well, you essentially have to write a version of the page for each major browser - which is a lot of work. Of course, there are development tools that make this substantially easier. It is by far the most seamlessly integrated with the BROWSING experience, but is less suited than Flash or Java for real applications - like a game or any other datadriven mouse-interactive thing. I don't believe there is no OOP Javascript in a browser.

      Another way is Java applets. Java has the advantage that lots of programmers learn it to do nonapplet Java work. The big disadvantage is that a big part of the installed userbase has broken M$ Java engines, and it's generally impossible to install a Java engine without computer-admin privs (as opposed to "browser admin" privs)

      The final way is Flash MX 2004 or Flex. Like Java applets, it is a fully featured OOP programming language (Actionscript) It expects to deal with server information, and can innately request data from mostly-arbitrary SOAP Web Services. It also works innately on OSX, Windows and i386 Linux in most all browsers and on a variety of small devices. It doesn't work on more obscure platforms, however, and it's not OSS so it can't be ported by just anybody.

      Summary: If you want to a supercharged browser experience, use AJAX. If you want an application that "just happens" to be projected over the web, use Flash.
    • by rnd() (118781)
      I'm sorry but your comment is so off base it deserves a rebuttal.

      IE was around for a long time and the FF developers explicitly decided not to support nonstandard features that not just IE but tens of thousands of websites were using.

      The standards jihad has held back the Mozilla project big time. Why not just display a "non compliant code" icon on the status bar somewhere... even display a security risk popup.

      There was "one programming language" for web scripting back when MS had 95+% of the browser mar
      • by drew (2081)
        There was "one programming language" for web scripting back when MS had 95+% of the browser market share, and FF and Moz decided to go on a jihad instead of realizing that the specifics of the standard aren't that important and a de-facto standard is good enough for most people.

        ahhh... right. so should they have followed the de facto standard as implemented in IE 5.0, IE 5.5 or IE 6.0? And how do they verify that they are compatible with whichever defacto standard they chose without visiting every site
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This has been possible for years. I've personally been using this type of scripting in web applications since 2001. Why the big fuss all of a sudden? Is it just because of the new XhtmlhttpRequest object (or whatever the hell its called)? You can do the same thing with an iFrame. Sure, its not as elegant, but it gets the job done. And it registers in your browser history.
  • by yagu (721525) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:27AM (#12624425) Journal

    For me, the crux of the usefulness and eventual adoption and finally complete embracing of AJAX lies in the article's paragraph:

    Some of the buzz surrounding AJAX has been generated by Web designers as well as programmers. AJAX?s flexibility is invigorating for Web designers because JavaScript can control any aspect of any images or type on a page. Fonts can grow or shrink. Tables can add or lose lines. Colors can change. Although none of these capabilities are new to programmers accustomed to building client applications -- or, for that matter, Java applets -- they are novelties to Web designers who would otherwise be forced to rely on Macromedia (Profile, Products, Articles) Flash.

    I've seen what Google has done with AJAX (e.g., Google suggest), and it's stuff I never imagined could be so repsonsive in a web context. For me it starts to make programming fun again, and web programming an acceptable form of application development.

    When browsers and web first emerged I could see the writing on the wall, but I wasn't happy about it. Browser application writing from the programming perspective was probably the single most giant leap backwards in technology for me (not including technologies introduced by Microsoft)....: you mean, all the years I've spent honing skills writing applications no longer apply? You mean I no longer have "state" as a tool for maintaining sanity in my application???? Hwaahhh??? I have to do what to change the web page???

    While there have been some technologies (ASP, JSP, etc) to help with these issues, none have addressed the responsiveness issue with the web page round trip message loop. AJAX comes close. Now all I have to do is learn it.

    For a great example of the responsive nature of this (I've referenced this before), go to Google Personal Home [google.com], set up your own home page, and play... Configure your modules by dragging them around... open and close your g-mail previews. This all starts looking alot like programs actually running locally on your own machine. (I'm assuming all are familiar with and have played similarly with Google Maps [google.com].)

    Additionally, here are some very good resources to learn more about AJAX:

    That's it, I'm done.

    • Yeah, But... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:56AM (#12624775) Homepage Journal
      You're still programming in a brain damaged environment. The browser provides a tiny fraction of what the entire system is capable of and a tiny fraction of the refinement of the programming interfaces that have been around since the '70's. The only way that programmers will be able to cope with these shortcomings will be to increase the scope of the browser until it pretty much becomes the OS. At which point we will have gone full circle.

      That being said, this does look like the least annoying of a lot of really annoying hacks to attempt to shoehorn stateful programming into an inherently stateless paradigm. Personally I think we should be rethinking the underlying infrastructure before we build too much on top of it.

      • Re:Yeah, But... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drix (4602) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @07:39PM (#12629607) Homepage
        You're missing the point: you don't need that complexity any more. Google Maps basically gives me the ability to use a $300 thin client to accomplish (some of the) tasks I do at work using a $5000 Xeon machine with $10000 worth of ESRI [esri.com] software to do at work. What's more, if Google comes up with some way to make Google Maps better, like, say, add satellite images, they implement that functionality overnight and have millions of users using it the next day. Compare with the release-patch-rerelease paradigm of old. I don't consider JavaScript and the browser and it to be a brain-damaged programming environment--you just have to remember that you are no longer expected to do any heavy lifting on the client side, and the majority of the GUI tasks are already handled for you by the browser itself. Most of the "refinment[s] in programming interfaces that have been around since the 70s" were to simplify those very chores. In that sense, the limited functionality provided by JS is really quite elegant.

        Also, emulating stateful-ness over the web is being handled at a much lower level than the browser these days, and to good effect. See Tapestry [apache.org].
  • Then where have you been for the last 10 years? Seriously, those comments reek of those guys coming out of the shadows to hop onto the glory boat.
  • Processing threads running in the background preloads page content..

    Browsers load AJAX applications automatically. Customers are often reluctant to install custom applications, but most people can be convinced to visit a Web site.

    Finally, the reason I was looking for to disable Javascript is here.

    • ...why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ciroknight (601098) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:51AM (#12624701)
      The thing that's different about an AJAX application is that the application has no file system hooks. About the only things it could read datawise are cookies, and if you're that afraid of webobjects, you've probably already got them disabled and you probably have a hard time with even the simplest websites (read: slashdot).

      Note, this doesn't stop the annoyance factor. Those stupid flash ads will eventually become those stupid AJAX ads, as SVG matures into something usable, and people code more SVG-AJAX apps. But we've still got some time.

      Besides, AJAX could do some good. I could think of it as possible to build a quick and dirty AJAX application to check if the packages on a system are out of date (yes, re-inventing the wheel is bad, but if you're changing the whole framework, sometimes you have to). Or any of the other millions of applications Dashboard widgets are already doing today.
  • Javascript? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Umbral Blot (737704)
    Quite honestly javascript is a very poor language. The reason it is used so much is that it is basically the only alternative to client side scripting without Java. I would be excited by a more robust replacement for javascript, but this just seems like taking a bad idea and running with it.
    • Re:Javascript? (Score:5, Informative)

      by telbij (465356) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:57AM (#12624792)
      Quite honestly javascript is a very poor language.

      Actually, Javascript is surprisingly robust. Probably you're referring the platform inconsistencies, which have long been a showstopper. But with recent versions of browsers supporting the javascript standard (ie. ECMAScript) increasingly well, a lot of the major wholes are closing, and you really can write cross-platform javascript with a minimal compatibility layer.

      Javascript is not meant to be a large-scale programming language... it doesn't have strong-typing or other features that you want when developing million-line applications. However, it is still an extremely powerful language providing things like full object-orientation (everything is secretly descended from the window object), comprehensive hooks to HTML, functions as data, regular expressions, flexible data access (eg. objects as hashes), and robust event handling.

      I used to think of javascript as a toy language, but when you get to down to it, it does what it needs to do very cleanly and efficiently without imposing unnecessary overhead on the programmer.

  • by bharlan (49602)
    "Perhaps AJAX will finally deliver what Java promised."

    Javascript and Java have nothing in common but four letters in their name, from a silly marketing decision by Netscape and Sun long ago.

    Unfortunately, the alternative name that could have cleared up the confusion is impossible to pronounce: ECMAScript.

    • impossible to pronounce: ECMAScript.

      Ek-ma-script?
    • What are you talking about? Java promised portable client side web applications, applets. They've been slow to catch on at best, and now AJAX has allowed Javascript to be used for portable client side web applications. Think before you speak, this sounds like the knee-jerk response a Highschool teacher tells the website design class. A response which does not belong here.
  • Java (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HRbnjR (12398) <chris@hubick.com> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:32AM (#12624493) Homepage
    People keep talking like Java has failed and is now dead and gone.

    I have been programming primarily in Java since 97, and if you ask me, it's just *starting* to pick up steam.

    The language itself is just becoming mature - with big strides (generics, etc) in Java 1.5. And only now are we seeing alternate implementations to Suns, with GNU Classpath approaching a million lines of code, and GCJ compiled applications shipping in Fedora Core 4. Java applications such as Eclipse are also just starting to become popular, and Java API's for things like GNOME are just appearing on the horizon.

    So quit calling Java dead :)
    • Re:Java (Score:3, Informative)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      So quit calling Java dead :)

      Okay, fine.

      Java applets embedded in webpages are dead.

      But on the other hand, J2EE is heading towards becoming the de facto standard language for server-side web development, as is J2ME for handheld development.

      On the whole, Java is alive and well.
    • Re:Java (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Espectr0 (577637)
      The language itself is just becoming mature - with big strides (generics, etc) in Java 1.5

      Big strides? How is a broken design and implementation of a feature become a big stride? Generics in Java 2 version 5.0 version 1.5 suck big time. The implementation does NOT guarantee type-safety. It DOESN'T eliminate casts, they are still being done, with a processing cost, it's just syntactic sugar.

      To try to somewhat fix this horrible implementation, they did autoboxing, a.k.a the worst feature in C#. You would t
  • Gah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:32AM (#12624496) Homepage
    Perhaps AJAX will finally deliver what Java promised. Perhaps it will really provide a solid way to distribute software seamlessly.

    All "AJAX" is going to do is sell a bunch more four-color glossies to those IT types with more stars in their eyes than substance in their heads. It's just another vaguely-defined acronym with a catchy ring to it.

    For anybody who actually writes code, things like Google Maps are simply a happy marriage of time-honored techniques and modern browser tricks. They're cool, they're novel, they're useful, they're quite well-written, and they're letting us do things in the browser that used to require plugins--but there's nothing terribly eye-popping about the techniques themselves.

  • Some of the buzz surrounding AJAX has been generated by Web designers as well as programmers. AJAX's flexibility is invigorating for Web designers because JavaScript can control any aspect of any images or type on a page. Fonts can grow or shrink. Tables can add or lose lines. Colors can change. Although none of these capabilities are new to programmers accustomed to building client applications -- or, for that matter, Java applets -- they are novelties to Web designers who would otherwise be forced to rely
    • This is just another cycle of rediscovering old technology and calling it new.

      Next thing you know XML will be replaced with the .ini file ;-)

      Why people get all excited to the point of jizzing buzzwords over something as simple as XML is beyond me... It's a text file with HTML like tags...

      At least ASN.1 specifies encodings "on the wire" which is a bit more useful. I mean you may see

      <keyword> TOMBOT </keyword> but how are those chars actually sent on the wire? XML doesn't address this. It'
  • Open up AJAX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamthesamurai (464513) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:34AM (#12624513)
    There is a need to standardize (as much as possible) the way that AJAX will work in the browser. There are a lot of code-writers and code-copy-n-pasters out there. When you visit one of these sites, you know because the browser may act funny due to poor programming/hacking of Javascript interacting with the server. AJAX is much bigger than just XML messaging, it's an opportunity to bring a more traditional application model to the browser via Event handling and dispatching. Notice that if you have an engine or framework that is well built, it's quite simple to add event handlers like key presses or mouse clicks or even drag-n-drop. If one was to script each element on a page, that gets heavy and can slow the browser. Which - btw, is why AJAX hadn't caught on until recently: computing resources were not sufficient in many cases.

    That being said, everyone should look at http://www.sourcelabs.com/ajb/ [sourcelabs.com]AJAX Mistakes. There's also a nice list being compiled at http://www.openajax.net/ [openajax.net]OpenAJAX .net. This combination of technologies has been around for a while, however, as people find them more useful and interesting, there is a need for good information and a solid foundation for folks to work off of.
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  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:36AM (#12624537) Homepage Journal
    Of course, most people developing web applications have a little experience in the main technologies in AJAX, particularly DHTML and DOM, which are the critical ones. Only now we have a buzzword that HR an latch onto.

    On the other hand, if they're looking at people who can architect something like Google maps, well, they're going to have to wait until the frameworks catch up. I've got my eye on Echo.
  • (For those who didn't bother RTFA)

    Not having to refresh the frigging URL everytime you want to request some info from the server.

    Think of it as "DHTML+minor server requests".

    So, what car would you like to buy?
    (select: Volkwagen)
    (javascript then loads the currently available VW's from the server into a second combobox)

    Ta-da!
  • I use Javascript for a lot of things, and I constantly hear things like "Wow! I didn't know you could do that kind of stuff with Javascript", which to me just goes to show how uninformed people are about the language.

    Additionally, anyone in the know is aware that a lot of the cool things you can do within OSX are attainable via Javascript(JS). Want to write a cool new Sherlock plugin? Use JS. Want to write a cool new widget for Tiger? Use JS.

    As the trolls have already started pointing, Javascript is n
  • Web based applications, especially on at a LAN level (for instance, on a corporate or educational intranet), have had a lot of promise for quite a while. Current standards for Javascript, XML, and CSS, when used properly and to their fullest extent, can certainly make for very rich feeling applications on a thin-client like infrastructure. Google is simply one of the first really large and widespread applications of this. I should note that web applications will not be replacing general applications anytime
  • by twifosp (532320) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:48AM (#12624671)
    I find it hard to believe that the buzzword itself breathed life back into Javascript like the title implies.

    I think maybe the slick apps like google maps is finally showing what good code CAN do, instead of the bloated bug ridden javascripting of yesterday.

    Or maybe I'm just not transcending expectations by thinking outside of the box, and therefore my toolset isn't capable of brigding the information gap causing a chasm with my ability to think forwardly.

    I'm struggling to identify which is worse: The day when we report that a buzzword has made progress, or the day a buzzword actually creates progress.


  • It certainly seems as if the world is moving the microsoft way (you will recall that MS put powerful scripting in IE as a response to Sun's propaganda campaign about Java applets).

    Now, both companies seem to have abandoned the battle -- Sun found Java applets kind of embarrassing in the end (understandably), while MS declared the browser wars over and forgot about it (bizarrely). However, the conflict they started, between web browser as app host versus independant virtual machine + runtimes as app host,
  • by MarkEst1973 (769601) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:48AM (#12624680)
    AJAX is great, but parsing XML always sucks. The XmlHttpRequest object also has a property called ".text", which returns the text value of the data.

    Set your content type to "text/javascript" and you can send data over the network and have it be perfectly legal and ready to use. NO XML PARSING!

    JSON (JSON.org [json.org]) just happens to be legal Python syntax... which makes me think...

    hmmm.... Google has a huge server farm and is renowed for using Python... Google Maps talks client/server using Javascript, not xml... Python and Javascript shared JSON sytax for serializing objects... hmmm...

    It is a very efficient combo: Python, Javascript, JSON, mod_python.

  • Being able to make HTTP requests from a client-side language without redrawing the UI is nice, although it is perhaps depressing that such an elementary capability has taken more than a decade to make it into standard browsers and that people are so starved for anything working that they celebrate something so elementary.

    The problem is that the client-side language is still Javascript: a bad programming language and a bad target for compilers.
  • by grangerg (309284) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:50AM (#12624696)
    Q.Did Adaptive Path invent Ajax? Did Google? Did Adaptive Path help build Google's Ajax applications?
    A.Yes. We wanted to call it HTTP, but that was already taken.
    Q. Is Adaptive Path selling Ajax components or trademarking the name? Where can I download it?
    A. Oops. Sorry; fooled you. It's not a product; cool acronym though, right?
    Q. Is Ajax just another name for XMLHttpRequest?
    A. Damn you kids are smart. Wait! I meant "No". We put "CSS" in there too, and "XML". Yeah; XML changes everything.
    Q. Why did you feel the need to give this a name?
    A. Two words: Midlife Crisis.
    Q. Techniques for asynchronous server communication have been around for years. What makes Ajax a "new" approach?
    A. Because I said so; I'm Jack Bauer!
    Q. Is Ajax a technology platform or is it an architectural style?
    A. Is using the BLINK tag a platform or is it an architectural style? Snatch the pebble from my hand, Grasshopper.
    Q. What kinds of applications is Ajax best suited for?
    A. Hmmm... That's a tough one. How about "web pages"? Does that sound nice?
    Q. Does this mean Adaptive Path is anti-Flash?
    A. Yes. If we liked Flash, why would we pull our hair out attempting something this complex in Javascript?
    Q. Does Ajax have significant accessibility or browser compatibility limitations? Blah blah blah...
    A. My sources say "Yes". ...but if you shake the magic 8 ball again, who knows?
    Q. Some of the Google examples you cite don't use XML at all. Do I have to use XML and/or XSLT in an Ajax application?
    A. Yes. We put "XML" in the acronym! Of course you have to! Why? ...because ...because SHUT UP!
    Q. Are Ajax applications easier to develop than traditional web applications?
    A. Duh. Are you stupid? Of course they are. We called it "AJAX"; isn't that teh ish?
    Q. Do Ajax applications always deliver a better experience than traditional web applications?
    A. Only if we make them. Everyone else sucks.

    And on a serious note: Who was the moron who made the onreadystatechange event handler? Why couldn't you just pass in a reference to the XmlHttpRequest object so people wouldn't be forced to use global variables to store the reference? Is that so hard?

  • Can someone enlightened tell me what the advantage is of using JavaScript over Java (with the assumption that Java would be installed on all machines)?

    And don't flame me for using Java and JavaScript in the same sentence. I know that they are two different languages.

    I'm guessing that the reasons are:

    1) Java is actually not installed everywhere.
    2) JavaScript is easier to get going with. You can use your existing web authoring environment and just add a few scripts that you copy paste from somewhere.
    3) Jav
  • Ajax mistakes (Score:5, Informative)

    by afd8856 (700296) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:55AM (#12624749) Homepage
    Just today I was looking at this page [sourcelabs.com] It's a list of ten easy to do mistakes in Ajax apps. Some of them are not that easy to avoid...
  • by Schnapple (262314) <tomkidd@@@viatexas...com> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @12:00PM (#12624824) Homepage
    I guess AJAX reinvigorates Javascript. It's a perfectly cromulent term. It sure did embiggen Google Maps
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @12:09PM (#12624900) Homepage Journal
    ...and be all of client side scripting. There is another...

    BLEACH (Bloatware + Leanware + Emacs + (x86) Assembly + C + Heroine) has been working wonders for my development. I usually start the day by shooting up in my office, then I start up all of the Office apps (bloatware) on my co-worker's PC to slwo him down. After that, I load up ACIDWARP.EXE (leanware. No DLLs, libs, nothing, jst one EXE and it's small for what it does) on my boss' PC which stuns him for a few hours so he can't keep track of what's going on in the office (usually play Purple Haze in the background). I then open up Emacs on my box and set to work redesigning everything (Screw WYSIWYG. It's overrated.) I also write a lot of my CGI in assembly language to keep the resource usage low and the code tight. C, when it's needed, which is almost never because of how well I can do things in assembly. And finally, another serving of heroine to keep the Jedi Mind tricks fresh. So far, this plan has worked so well, that I've been shuffled through about 70 different companies this year alone. My talents are in demand!
  • No Refreshes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @12:44PM (#12625313)
    THe "big deal" for a lot of web developers is that you can avoid annoying refreshes to update content. Using XMLHTTP you can retrieve your information in the background and use the XML DOM/DHTML to update only what needs to be updated - instead of redownloading an entire page (and flickering). I wrote a chat app a few year ago that worked this way and it was amazingly responsive.
  • by epeus (84683) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @01:00PM (#12625469) Homepage Journal
    The XML part of XmlHttpRequest is a bit misleading - you don't have to use XML and parse it in the client. If you use a server process that generates an HTML fragment, you can replace the innerHTML of a target id easily.
    I made a JAH example [mac.com] to show how easy this is.
    JAH stands for Just Async HTML
  • by lullabud (679893) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @01:14PM (#12625635) Homepage
    Interviewer: "I'm here with Brendan Eich, the creator of Javascript. So, Brendan, it looks like some companies are doing some pretty awesome stuff with Javascript these days! Word has it this was what you envisioned for Javascript from the beginning."

    Brendan: "Yeah... um, this is exactly what we envisioned! Awesome tools like what Google is doing with the maps thing, and the... uh... craigslist + Google maps thing! Yeah.. these companies are finally doing exactly what we had originally planned, so... just wait until they come up with--I mean finally catch on to our big picture and we'll let you know what else we had envisioned! You'll just have to wait and see what we take credit fo--I mean, the other ideas of ours they catch on to!"

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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