Introducing Ajax


This chapter started with a brief introduction to Ajax that included some of the origins and problems associated with using "mad scientist stuff," such as the accusations of attempting to pass off a mock-up as an actual application and the inability to describe just how something works. Of course, some people still will think Corinthian helmets and hoplites at the very mention of Ajax, but you can't please everyone.

Next there was a brief outline of the philosophy behind Ajax, which centers on the idea of not bothering the server any more than is necessary. The goal is that of reducing, if not eliminating, the unload/reload cycleor "blink," as some call it. The Ajax philosophy also includes the idea of making the client's computer work for a living. After all, personal computers have been around in some form for close to 30 years; they should do some worktake out the trash, mow the lawn, or something.

Finally, I presented the three simple examples of how Ajax can be implemented. The first example, although not quite Ajax, does much to show something of the first attempts to implement a web application with the feel of a Windows application. Although it's primitive by today's standard, it is still better than 99 percent of the web pages out there today.

Using the XMLHttpRequest object, the second example is dead on as to what is expected from an Ajax application. Broken are the bonds that limit updates to the unload/reload cycle that has been confronting us on the Web since Day 1. In addition, XML plays well with the concept of reducing traffic.

The third and final example pushes Ajax to the current limits with the addition of XSLT to the mix. XSLT allows XML to be twisted and stretched into any conceivable shape that we can imagine. No longer are our creations limited to the parts that we can dig up here and there; we can make our own parts on demand.

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