What is AJAX?
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Author: Jane Mark
AJAX was primary designed and developed with the intent of providing a fast and responsive user interface. According to Enrich Peterson, "AJAX-enabled pages provide a slick, responsive user experience, making web-based applications function more like desktop-based ones". Ajax revolutionized how users interact with web pages. Gone are frustrating page refreshes, lost scroll positions, intermittent interactions, and flat, boring pages.
Ajax inevitably increases the overall complexity of the system. In the process of adopting Ajax, developers could code a great number of server-side pages, each page performing some tiny function (such as looking up a zip code for auto completing a user's city and state fields) in the overall application. Ajax's most appealing characteristic, however, is its "asynchronous" nature, which means it can do all of this without having to refresh the page. This allows you to update portions of a page based upon user events. AJAX uses asynchronous data transfer (HTTP requests) between the browser and the web server, allowing web pages to request small bits of information from the server instead of whole pages. The AJAX technique makes Internet applications smaller, faster and more user-friendly.
Ajax turns static web pages into interactive applications. Now you can deploy rich-client applications to clients without sacrificing the easy deployment of web applications. AJAX also can submit information to the server without user interaction or may do so in methods that are not obvious to the user. For example, most users expect forms to be submitted, validated, and processed when a submit button is selected, but with AJAX this submission and processing can occur at any time (e.g., every 5 seconds, when a form element loses focus, etc.). Ajax is new way of thinking that can result in a flowing and intuitive interaction with the user.
Ajax applications like the Zimbra client cache no user data on disk. Ajax is an important development for Web applications, and its importance is only going to grow. And because there are so many developers out there who already know how to use these technologies, we expect to see many more organizations following Google's lead in reaping the competitive advantage Ajax provides. Ajax is a sound and useful idea. But every idea comes down to a practical implementation - a technology that makes it happen - and in this case the technology is immature , because it leaves groups of users behind.
AjaxPatterns.org began as a collection of design patterns, which formed the basis of the book, Ajax Design Patterns , and grew into a publicly editable wiki on anything and everything Ajax. All pages (except this homepage) are now editable, no registration required. Ajax.module provides both an API for module maintainers as well as an admin interface for easy configuration.
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