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Why Microsoft and Google are Cleaning Up With AJAX 443

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-remember-when-center-was-cutting-edge-web dept.
OSS_ilation writes "Google uses it, and Microsoft is pursuing it, so there's a lot of hype and hubbub surrounding AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). AJAX brings together some hot properties, JavaScript, HTML/DHTML and HTML, according to Julie Hanna Farris, founder of Scalix, a Linux-based, e-mail systems vendor. Scalix is using AJAX in Scalix Web Access (SWA), a Web-delivered, e-mail application. AJAX enables advanced features like drag 'n drop, dropdown menus and faster performance capabilities, which are now making their way into Web applications, she said. These kinds of capabilities represent a significant leap in the advancement of Web apps."
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Why Microsoft and Google are Cleaning Up With AJAX

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  • From TFA: "AJAX brings together some hot properties, Javascript, HTML/DHTML and HTML"

    So it has DHTML/HTML and HTML? Wow, three HTMLs! Buzzwords ho!
  • It seems that ActiveX is being widely adopted for web apps only insofar as it is used in IE for the XmlHttpRequest.
  • real reason why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scenestar (828656) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:44PM (#14002044) Homepage Journal
    Farris: Microsoft is probably interested in AJAX for the same reasons everyone is interested in AJAX: the ability to deliver desktop quality applications through the Web.

    and charge "subscription fees" for it too.
    • Re:real reason why (Score:5, Informative)

      by misleb (129952) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @07:16PM (#14003048)
      It is bullshit. AJAX does NOT give one the ability to deliver desktop quality applications through the web. Not even close. Sorry. At best, AJAX spices up traditional web applications. But it is still using HTML/CSS for the UI. The HTML/CSS document model simply doesn't work well for desktop quality applications.

      Saying that AJAX will allow one to deliver desktop quality applications is like saying central heating will turn a mobile home into a mansion.

      -matthew
      • Re:real reason why (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jeffrey Baker (6191)
        I agree. Web browsers (and AJAX) lack two crucial features needed for GUI development. The most important by far is a packing system. There is no way to tell the browser you want one element to be as compact as possible, and you want the element next to it to be as large as possible. This stuff has been in GUI APIs for decades, because it's a requirement. If you could get at the APIs that Mozilla uses to draw its GUI, and use those in the content area, that would be a start. But right now you just hav
        • Re:real reason why (Score:3, Informative)

          by misleb (129952)
          I agree. Web browsers (and AJAX) lack two crucial features needed for GUI development. The most important by far is a packing system. There is no way to tell the browser you want one element to be as compact as possible, and you want the element next to it to be as large as possible. This stuff has been in GUI APIs for decades, because it's a requirement. If you could get at the APIs that Mozilla uses to draw its GUI, and use those in the content area, that would be a start. But right now you just have to g
      • Re:real reason why (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hahn (101816)
        >It is bullshit. AJAX does NOT give one the ability to deliver desktop quality applications through the web. Not even close. Sorry. At best, AJAX >spices up traditional web applications. But it is still using HTML/CSS for the UI. The HTML/CSS document model simply doesn't work well for >desktop quality applications.

        Of course not. It delivers a desktop-LIKE feel to certain web applications. However, that is NOT the only point of it. Other advantages include:
        #1 Immediate deployment - You can distr
  • Hype, Hype, Hype (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:44PM (#14002048) Homepage Journal
    Man, are they ever hyping this stuff. This story doesn't seem to actually cover anything new, it just hypes AJAX more!

    The truth is that the stuff we've seen in AJAX so far is nothing. I don't know about anyone else, but I've used it in regular webapps as nothing more than an interface enhancement. People don't even really notice the fact that the web pages work much smoother.

    That being said, there's a massive untapped potential in this technology. I've got demos of Video Games in AJAX, as well as a full Desktop. I tried to get Google interested in the video games concept, but I'm afraid they ignored my communication. :-(
    • nothing more than an interface enhancement
      You say that like it doesn't matter. Interface enhancements brought computing to the masses and brought prices down for all of us.
      • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:55PM (#14002185) Homepage Journal
        It certainly matters. However, it doesn't matter quite as much as the hype suggests. AJAX is a very valuable technology, but the only reason why it's catching on now is that we've finally rid the web of early browsers like Netscape 4. Now that everyone has full JavaScript and DOM, we can finally build complex interfaces. XMLHttpRequest is just icing on the cake. (Hidden IFrames did the job just fine in the past, and are still more useful for some interfaces.)
        • Now that everyone has full JavaScript and DOM, we can finally build complex interfaces.

          Not everybody has JavaScript and the DOM, and it was never a crucial factor anyway. It's perfectly reasonable to write web applications that use AJAX when the user has the necessary technology available, and fall back to traditional operation when the user doesn't havethe necessary technology available. In fact, it's a legal requirement for many developers.

          The big change is that big names like Google are starti

    • Yeah, the mags really are making a mountain out of a molehill here. And there's really very little here that couldn't have been done 3-5 years ago - browsers had the same javascript support, SOAP existed, and people knew you could make a request from within Javascript.

      Am I missing something? I've always thought that was part of why people didn't do this before - amount of coding needed to implement a simple app is vastly more than with something like .NET or QT. Is that not true? Are there AJAX developm
      • And there's really very little here that couldn't have been done 3-5 years ago - browsers had the same javascript support, SOAP existed, and people knew you could make a request from within Javascript.

        Precisely. As I said in another post, the XMLHttpRequest is just icing on the cake.

        I've always thought that was part of why people didn't do this before - amount of coding needed to implement a simple app is vastly more than with something like .NET or QT. Is that not true?

        It is true. However, the real reason
    • As a web user I don't give a shit what the application is made of as long as it works and doesn't open me up to all the security nightmares of the day.

      Do I care that I can get a full desktop application on the web? I don't because I already have one and free too. Video games? Nope, got'em and they're better too.

      Do something I don't have. If it can get me laid all the better.
       
      • Video games? Nope, got'em and they're better too.

        Actually, there's a huge market of "casual gamers" (a new term used to describe people who like to play web games and the like) that companies are having the hardest time reaching. One of the major obstacles in their way is the fact that these gamers are uninterested in installing Flash, Java, or any other plugin. If they don't get instant gratification, many of them simply leave. This means that all those super-APIs that companies like WildTangent and Unity
    • Re:Hype, Hype, Hype (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dalmaer (725759)
      I agree that there is a lot of hype out there. As is often the case, the hype machine doesn't come from the people actually using it. We [ajaxian.com] have been interviewing Ajax developers [ajaxian.com] on our Audible Ajax podcast, and as always, the developers are not religious "Ajax everywhere, it is a silver bullet!" nuts. They are pragmatic, know when it makes sense, and when it doesn't. And, they also know the pain points. I for one hope the hype doesn't ruin things by setting the expectations as crazy as they are. Ajax is g
  • Funny thing is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:44PM (#14002049)
    Microsoft basically invented AJAX, yet they're the ones behind the curve.

    Microsoft invented the XmlHttpRequest functionality, AND they've been using AJAX (before that's what it was called) in Outlook Web Access (OWA) for years. Nobody else in the company seemed to have caught on to it though.
    • Other then building a super simple implimentation of it in VS 2k5 and plug-ins for earlier versions of .Net -Rick
    • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:56PM (#14002201)
      I think that you are not allowed to say "Microsoft" and "invented" in the same sentence around these parts. The approved verbs are: copied, stole, lifted, ripped off, mangled, swiped, embraced-and-extended
    • Yea but have you seen the licensing cost of OWA?? outragious.
    • by ChrisGilliard (913445) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {draillig.rehpotsirhc}> on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:05PM (#14002279) Homepage
      Well, the truth is AJAX is not in Microsoft's best interest. The internet in general is bad for Microsoft. They were way into interactive TV and stuff. They really would prefer that they be the gateway to the web and that you pay $$$ to them to be able to get the content as well as selling their OS. AJAX makes windows less relevant because you can run apps on firefox on any platform. So, I can understand why they wouldn't use much of it. However, as always denying a good technology is a mistake. You can see this as a form of protectionism that backfired on them.
    • Does OWA use AJAX? I've only ever noticed it using standard HTML and Javascript - web-pages, and pop-ups.
      • It's IE only, so if you were using FF it's standard "refesh and pray" approach. They've had it since exchange 2000, and the 2003 version is QUITE sophisticated.
    • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:07PM (#14002321)
      Microsoft invented the XmlHttpRequest functionality

      Which comes as quite a surprise to everyone that's been doing the following since the mid 90s.

      Create a frame driven page with one main frame and one tiny frame.
      Whenever you want to perform an asynchronous action:
          Load a page in to the small frame.
          Have that page call an onload event that accesses a function in large frame.

      All "AJAX" (which is just a dressing up of what was already there) does is use the request object which is just a cleaner way of what people have been doing for about ten years anyway.

      There were also tricks for doing it with Java. But Microsoft had to supply an alternate mechanism because someone took Java out of the dominant web browser for a while. Can't think who might have done that though.
      • I've made the invisible frame and multi-frame pages before to emulate what AJAX can do natively now. And not only did it suck designing them, but in the case of live time updates, you get the constant 'click' noise in the background every time the invisible frame reloads. A rather irritating draw back.

        But I agree with you, AJAX definately does the same thing in a much better and cleaner way.

        -Rick
    • OWA looks and works like ass in firefox though. It's IE only for all practical purposes.

      Of course this makes sense as the primary purpose of exchange is to lock people into windows both on the server and client.
    • Re:Funny thing is... (Score:4, Informative)

      by killjoe (766577) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:12PM (#14002367)
      "Microsoft invented the XmlHttpRequest functionality,"

      Microsoft invented XMLHttpRequest because before that people were using tiny little java applets to accomplish the same thing. In fact the original version of remote scripting in IE also used a java applet. When MS decided that java was the enemy they figured a way to do it without java.

      I for one see no need for AJAX, it's better to just write java applications or even applets (or thinlets).
    • Don't forget the MSDN site. It's been using xmlhttp request for years. Hell, I was using xmlhttprequest years before mozilla implemented it, and years before google decided to start using it. They're not at all behind the curve, they started the curve. All google did was make a few applications with it - I don't understand why so many people (excluding yourself) think this was some kind of google invention.

      Of course, we should probably not talk about this, as it pretty much destroys the typical slashdot
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft was using Ajax before anyone ever even heard of google. Outlook web interface anyone? Cmon, at least be semi-accurate.
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:45PM (#14002060) Journal
    Sounds familiar, could have sworn I read something about this here the other day.

    Anyway. Let's not fill this page up with 'Dupe' complaints. Macromedia are probably gonna have to re-think things (in the new Adobe environment, of course) since they were convinced that Flash would be the vehicle of choice in developing what they call Rich Web Applications. They'll now have to sell it on the basis that you can get a hell of a lot of functionality out of very few lines of Flex code.

    It's gonna be interesting.
  • Well, duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Psionicist (561330) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:45PM (#14002063)
    I don't mind dupes. I don't really think about spelling- or grammatical errors (queue jokes because I'm not careful here). But do we, readers of slashdot, really need to be lectured what AJAX is?

    Google uses it, and Microsoft is pursuing it, so there's a lot of hype and hubbub surrounding AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). AJAX brings together some hot properties, Javascript, HTML/DHTML and HTML, according to Julie Hanna Farris, founder of Scalix, a Linux-based, e-mail systems vendor

    What's next, summary teaching us what programming languages or computer is?

    Bah, this is slightly annoying.
  • I noticed at the technet launch for vs2005 (the local one they did in my area on tuesday) that a lot of the new components in the web development toolbox use ajax. It was pretty slick I must admit. Drag and drop them on a form and use them.
     
    I've never used visual studio for web stuff, and I don't know if it can be used to do stuff like that without getting tied into asp or whatever, but it was impressive what they can do with it.
  • AJAX brings together some hot properties, Javascript, HTML/DHTML and HTML

    So what you're trying to say is "AJAX brings together Javascript."

  • by hillg3 (656728) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:48PM (#14002101)
    Anyone remember the old Gary Larson cartoon? Man talking to dog, bubble above dogs head captioned, "what dogs hear."

    "blah blah blah AJAX, blah blah blahblah AJAX!!1!. blahblahblah Google blah AJAX, blah Microsoft sux."
  • Just wait until microsoft defines is "standard" AJAX interface.

    What i would like to see is the US goverment and other countries to force them to adopt clean, industry defined standards like the XML, HTML,CSS, AJAX and not an assimilated badly digest crappy way of doing things that breaks the WEB. They should be more humble since the WEB has given a good chance for all companies to develop and sell new products, and microsoft is no exception here, aldo they have wakeup lately to this.
  • The Big Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolic (11752) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:53PM (#14002165)

    Who will be the first to try and patent something "using AJAX..."?
  • Incoming data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by n0dalus (807994) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:54PM (#14002172) Journal
    I think that if AJAX picks up and starts to be used everywhere, we should standardize a system so that optionaly, a web browser can inform the server that it has the option to connect to it using an open port on that system. It would really help things if the browser didn't need to connect to the server every few minutes to check for new data. That way, instead of my browser connecting to Gmail's servers every 60 seconds to check for new mail, Gmail's servers can connect to my browser and tell me only when I have new email. This saves processing and bandwidth and increases usability.
    This turns AJAX into more of an actual internet protocol, and I think it would really improve things.
    • Re:Incoming data (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TeamSPAM (166583)

      I acknowledge that having all their users hitting gmail every 60 seconds may tax their system a bit more than they would like. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with having some sort of open port on my computer that accepts new mail messages. Isn't this the first step for a new kind of worms/viruses for our computers?

    • Re:Incoming data (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pthisis (27352)
      so that optionaly, a web browser can inform the server that it has the option to connect to it using an open port on that system.

      That would be nice but is unlikely to be a widespread solution. Huge numbers of ISPs do not allow incoming connections, many NAT boxes are outgoing only (there are some hacks to allow incoming connections but they aren't commonly implemented for corporate desktops), etc. IPv6 would be helpful in a move toward this kind of scenario..

      But the best case right now is persistent conne
    • Re:Incoming data (Score:5, Informative)

      by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:14PM (#14002397)
      1. The good ancient way.

      Try this:
      #!/usr/bin/perl
      print "Content-type: text/plain\n\n";
      $|=1;
      (print '.'),sleep 1 while 1;

      2. With XMLHttpRequest:

      var req = new XMLHttpRequest();
      req.multipart=1; ....

      and the server-side part uses content-type: multipart/x-mixed-replace
    • That way, instead of my browser connecting to Gmail's servers every 60 seconds to check for new mail, Gmail's servers can connect to my browser and tell me only when I have new email.

      What you want to learn, then, is RPC or CORBA or any of its variants. You may already realize this, but you've simply described a typical client-server application.

      I think it would really improve things.

      Maybe. Maybe not. Do you like the idea of subscription-based software? That's where AJAX inevitably leads.

      What AJAX p

  • Java icon? WTF?
  • by thekel (909848) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:58PM (#14002215)
    Browsers could spend alot less effort kludging together DHTML and javascript and ride for free off of the JVM. I understand the JVM is a separate download, but browsers can include it as part of their install. I don't see why were a celebrating the creation of such a kludge with random inconsistencies across browsers and platforms that are far worse then what you find when targeting the JVM.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:59PM (#14002229)
    What is it with this EVERYTHING on the Internet is a webpage. The browser is the only client these days outside IM and P2P warez trading for 95% of users. And even though Javascript was never intended for 'real' programming it is the only language all browsers implement so it is what everyone is forced to use. It wasn't supposed to be this way and it doesn't have to BE this way.

    If nothing else, if we want to download clients and run them in the browser, having them talk to a backend server for the data, why not get a more appropriate language? Java would be perfect if Sun weren't a bunch of asshats, but just because it won't ever be truly Free or cross platform is no reason to reject other candidates. Tcl/Tk has had a fully sandboxed browser plugin for a decade and it is 100% Free Software. It runs on every known platform where IE or Mozilla runs and could be ported anywhere else needed. I'm sure it isn't the only one. Or do we continue shoehorning everything into html?
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @05:59PM (#14002233) Homepage
    AJAX is great. It means that web deployed applications are now almost as good as the regular applications we've been using for over 10 years! Just imagine: We can enhance Javascript to support more OO features and reflection and add JIT and it will become just like Java! Yaaay! Then we can add support for stronger typing and compiling to native code, and then it will be just like C! Yaay!

    It is funny to watch technology reinvent itself in fast-forward.

    I work for a company that did AJAX long before it was called AJAX. And now that it is the next hot thing they are moving away from it. Why? Because they already learned the lesson that everyone else is about to figure out: AJAX is a b*stard to code and maintain. It is easier to write a client-server application in a traditional language and web deploy it than to write this crazy JavaScript + XML + HTML + DHTML + CSS stuff.

    Java and .NET natively support this. For other languages there are plenty of frameworks that will add that capability.
    • I bet you'd think it'd be a b*stard to code and maintain anything, if we didn't already have the right abstractions. Take the browser itself, for instance. It has to open a connection, talk HTTP, parse HTML, interpret Javascript, and draw a bitmap on the screen, as well as provide a mechanism for scrolling around a document too large to display, and following a link to another document.

      Yes, it's still a b*tch to code and maintain a browser, and Microsoft still hasn't done it -- not really -- but a lot of
  • AJAX = Suckjax (Score:3, Insightful)

    by autopr0n (534291) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:00PM (#14002241) Homepage Journal
    I just don't get the hype. What can you do with an AJAX interface that you can't do better with a native client application?

    Sure, browsers work on every platform, and AJAX apps don't need a download, that's great. But the same thing could be done with java if everyone had a JVM, or anything else.

    AJAXs means reinventing the GUI, only with a more difficult to use, hacked together API
    • Sure, browsers work on every platform, and AJAX apps don't need a download, that's great. But the same thing could be done with java if everyone had a JVM, or anything else.

      You could do the same stuff with XUL also, if everybody ran a Mozilla based browser, or if XUL became a standard and other vendors started supporting it...
    • Re:AJAX = Suckjax (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lugae (88858)
      Some would say that you can deploy better with AJAX. As soon as a change is made, all users see that change.

      This can be unwanted behavior in some instances, but it's nice to be able to hook people into a system without an install disk or download.

      AJAX is providing that, but a desktop application is a lot nicer to work with. Plug in some remoting and you have a NICE client. Unfortunately, remoting does not seem to be the way that computing is going.

      My two cents.
    • Re:AJAX = Suckjax (Score:5, Insightful)

      by freeweed (309734) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:30PM (#14002605)
      I keep seeing comments to the effect of "Java could do this!", and I'm going to pick on yours :)

      See, Java *could* do this. Sure. I'll give you that. In fact, most people until recently HAD a JVM in their browser. Java applets should have taken over the world.

      Why didn't they? Why is AJAX getting all the press Java should have gotten?

      Me, I simply look at 2 things: gmail, and Google Maps. They both work, work well, and work better than anything else. Apparently millions of people agree with me, just look at the buzz around them. Are we all brainwashed by Google? Could these have been done as a Java applet? Maybe.

      The fact is, they WEREN'T. Or if they were, no one used them. The way I see it, AJAX is the end all and be all (for now) because it WORKS. Maybe Java is just too slow (and here come a dozen posts claiming it's not). Maybe the wait time to load a JVM into memory, plus download an applet is too long. I don't know why Java hasn't been used, but it's not like no one's thought of it before.

      I get the hype, myself. It means that I can sit at virtually any computer, type a URL, and BAM! Instant application. I've yet to see another technology that works this well.
      • Re:AJAX = Suckjax (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        there are a couple of reasons i can think of why java wasn't a roaring succes.

        1: thanks to the sun vs ms issue developing browser applets that will run without 3rd party software required working in a horriblly old version of java and you couldn't even use the swing classes without downloading them at applet load time.

        2: also a lot of java applets wouldn't work if you were browsing from behind a http proxy as they used other protocols to talk back.

        3: you can't exactly call awt or swing nice to program for ;
      • Re:AJAX = Suckjax (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jumpfroggy (233605)
        I agree with you. From a pragmatic point of view, AJAX is something that just works. Java can do many of the same things, but I always hated when websites use java in their pages. The load time is really annoying. I always sit there wondering what's chewing up my CPU cycles, then I see some cheesy javascript counter at the bottom of the page.

        Google maps is such a great example. You go there, it works, and it's a great interface. It's not as nice as google earth, but I don't want a client/server map ap
  • Be Careful (Score:3, Informative)

    by dmh20002 (637819) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:01PM (#14002252)
    If you are typing on a web page that uses XMLHTTPRequest, then you should treat it as if you were running a live program remotely. I.E. the web page could forward information about everything you type, how you move your mouse, etc, without an explicit 'submit'. Example : it if were an email app, and you typed 'my boss is a dick and my SSN is 555-55-5555' in an edit control, and then thought better of it and erased what you typed and killed the browser window without submitting, the contents could already have been captured and forwarded to the host with XMLHTTPRequest and you never knew it. Looks like a good cross site scripting opportunity.

    Of course, you usually don't know if a page is using XMLHTTPRequest in a hidden frame unless you look really hard, so I guess the bottom line is never type anything on a web page you don't want the world to see. On the other hand, AFAIK (which doesn't mean much) this hasn't shown up in practice, so maybe it isn't that big a deal.
    • Thats what I said in The Fonz uses AJAX to spy on you [webeisteddfod.com] (ajax-fueled text adventure included) - but as everyone will point out to you in overly angry tones, that could have been done a zillion years ago with a hidden iframe. I think the difference now is that people are thinking about how to apply ajax, so you are gettin all sorts of new and cool applications. Which also means you are getting all sorts of new and evil applications :)
  • Many of us do web development in environments that REQUIRE accessibility and nonvisual functionality. Most major corporations and media sites, all government sites, and most non-profits require that their web properties be open and functional for all of the webs users. Unlike traditional websites...or even traditional applications...AJAX webapps are typically unusuable for anyone with any kind of disability that requires assistive software. Even worse, there appears to be very little interest among the majo
  • Wasn't Ajax [ajax-schoonmaak.nl] meant for cleaning up anyways ?
  • AJAX brings together some hot properties, Javascript, HTML/DHTML and HTML, according to Julie Hanna Farris

    Translation: Asynchronous Javascript and (x)(ht)ml bring together some hot properties: Javascript, HTML and HTML with Javascript, and HTML, according to Julie Hanna Farris.
  • What does the article mean by "cleaning up"? Regarding MS and Google, I'd expect it to mean "making a lot of money", but that's not supported in the article. In fact, recent news shows MS thinks it's missing out on business by not doing enough AJAX - hardly evidence they're making a lot of money off of it.

    Maybe the writer means "tidying up". Like hiding software problems on a backend that is maintained without the users noticing upgrades or details of failures. Maybe just putting a thin-client cross-platfor
  • I prefer AJASON - that is, replace XML with JavaScript Object Notation or, serialized javasacript objects. It parses much faster and easier than XML.

    I have a JSON class for PHP which lets me serialze any PHP object into JSON. I can send the JSON to the client, eval() it with javascript and viola, my PHP object is now a JavaScript object.

    The only problem with it is that there isn't an object serializer built into JavaScript (that I'm aware), so sending data back to the PHP script isn't as easy. I haven't

  • by Sundroid (777083) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:13PM (#14002376) Homepage
    Here is a fairly long list of websites that use AJAX -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_usin g_Ajax [wikipedia.org]
  • Why Java? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kuzb (724081) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:15PM (#14002410)
    Why is this article marked under the 'Java' category by slashdot? That's amazingly silly. xmlhttprequest has *nothing* to do with java.
  • Netscape has amazingly bequeathed us a lot of things, whether they're good or not - LiveScript aka JavaScript being one.

    JavaSript is not related in any way to Java. It was a cold day in November 1995 when Bill Joy, in contract negotiations between Sun and Netscape, told them "sure, go ahead and use the name JavaScript."

    Sort of funny when you think about the current protection of the Java trademark, or whatever it is.

    p.s. yes I was there

  • Accessibility (Score:5, Informative)

    by leighklotz (192300) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:22PM (#14002510) Homepage
    AJAX, being a random collection of JavaScript hacks, doesn't offer any accessibility.

    So you can't use it in software that might be sold to, for example US Government customers -- no national laboratories, no NASA, etc.

    UNLESS -- you write your own accessibility aids and write your own UI framework that compiles into both an AJAX version and a web accessible version.
    That's a tall order. However, there is help.

    You can write your web pages in HTML with XForms and let XForms handle the dynamic page aspects, and then offer up the HTML+XForms as the accessible version. (See the DHTML Accessibility Roadmap [w3.org].)

    Everything that the AJAX cloud of applications does with the XMLHTTP object and updating the DOM on the fly to display choices can be done with XForms.

    Then, you can use one of these mechanisms to convert the server-side XHTML+XForms file into AJAX:
    • FormFaces [formfaces.com] A pure AJAX library that runs in today's browsers. It's stunning to see how simply this works.
    • Chiba [sourceforge.net] A server-side engine in Java that integrates with TomCat or other Apache web server technologies to produce HTML that works in today's browsers. Plus, the plain-old-HTML output of Chiba is accessible right now, in addition to the XHTML+XForms file itself. (Caveat: Full AJAX implementation is in development, according to the mailing list.)
    • Orbeon Ops [orbeon.com], like Chiba, Orbeon converts to HTML for today's browsers in its Java back end, but rather than integrating into your TomCat or Coccoon framework, it comes with its own framework that helps you separate presentation from content and write your applications.


    If you want to serve up the XHTML+XForms directly, and not rely on any AJAX technologies, try these:
    • Mozilla XForms [mozilla.org] for Mozilla and FireFox, an XPI that's available for recent betas and nightlies, this one-click install adds native XForms support to these browsers. Still in Beta, but with plenty of developers, it should be a full implementation.
    • FormsPlayer for Windows [formsplayer.com] provides full support for XForms in Internet Explorer via a plug-in. Plug-ins are not everyone's cup of tea, but then neither is Mozilla ;-). You can get the AJAX benefits of dynamic page updating and yet still retain accessibility with any of the server-side or JavaScript engines above, but if your target deployment is Internet Explorer, you can gain tremendous access to advanced features inside IE with this plug-in. (Plus it has some neat Konfabulator-like tools such as SideWinder.)


    So, try them out, and see how much easier it is to write accessible code and properly separate your data and presentation layers when you use XHTML, CSS, and XForms. Then, choose a middleware solution or a browser-based solution and go forward knowing that you can meet architectural requirements without getting bogged down in JavaScript toolkits.
    • Re:Accessibility (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @08:07PM (#14003503)

      AJAX, being a random collection of JavaScript hacks, doesn't offer any accessibility.

      So you can't use it in software that might be sold to, for example US Government customers -- no national laboratories, no NASA, etc.

      UNLESS -- you write your own accessibility aids and write your own UI framework that compiles into both an AJAX version and a web accessible version.

      This irritates me. This is not true. And yet moderators without a clue have pushed it up to +5, Informative. And any newbie web developers who read this are going to think that they have to choose between AJAX and accessibility. Some of them are going to choose AJAX and not bother with accessibility. If your post had been down at -1, Wrong, they might not get that impression, and would go on to write accessible AJAX web applications.

      You don't have to choose. You don't have to write "UI frameworks" that you have to "compile". That's nonsense. What you do is you write the non-AJAX version, and then you add the AJAX as an optional extra. When people have Javascript turned off, they get the basic version seamlessly. Perfectly accessible, none of the complicated nonsense you claim is necessary.

      Please stop propogating this myth. If you want to promote your favourite technologies, then by all means do so, but don't lie about the alternatives to make them look bad.

  • by JMUChrisF (188300) on Thursday November 10, 2005 @06:25PM (#14002557)
    It really stinks when you want to play with these technologies, but as a federal contractor, not something we can do.

    I don't think there are too many screen readers our there that can handle AJAX quite yet.

    Hmm.. screen reader built onto Firefox? Notices when stuff changes. I could build that. Sweet.

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