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Ajax Is the Buzz of Silicon Valley

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the follow-the-buzz-to-the-honey dept.

Programming 336

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "Ajax, or 'Asynchronous JavaScript and XML,' is allowing webpages to update as quickly as desktop software, powering applications like Google Maps and attracting money from Silicon Valley investors, including for a collaboration-software company called Zimbra. The Wall Street Journal reports: 'Zimbra's chief executive, Satish Dhamaraj, says that when he started his company in December 2003, "I really thought that Ajax was just a bathroom cleaner." Now his San Mateo, Calif., business has amassed $16 million in funding from venture-capital firms including Accel Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Benchmark Capital, the firm that famously funded eBay Inc. Peter Fenton, an Accel partner, says Ajax "has the chance to change the face of how we look at Web applications" and could boost technology spending by corporations, because Ajax is also being used to develop software for big companies, not just for consumers.'"

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Let me be the first to say (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945338)

NO SHIT SHERLOCK.

Thought that Ajax was just a bathroom cleaner (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945339)

No, Ajax is also an excuse for ad placement.

Le me be the first to personally thank Zimbra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945401)

For without them, javascript and XML would not exist!

Asylum Is The Buzz at: +1, Informative (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945565)


Al-Qaeda Headquarters [whitehouse.org] .

Stay tuned for more developments.

Thanks in advance,
Kilgore Trout, C.E.O.

So, nitpicking... (4, Informative)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945349)

Shouldn't it be AJAX, not Ajax? Ajax is the Greek warrior.

Re:So, nitpicking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945367)

... and a formally brilliant association football club from Amsterdam!

Re:So, nitpicking... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945419)

Formally? You mean they wear tuxedos? Or you just can't spell?

Re:So, nitpicking... (0, Redundant)

kjs3 (601225) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945370)

I thought it was that powdery stuff in the can under my sink.

Re:So, nitpicking... (4, Interesting)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945394)

"Ajax is the Greek warrior"

Hmm... That's pretty interesting [wikipedia.org]

Re:So, nitpicking... (2, Informative)

kritikal (247499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945545)

I can't remember the original source that mentioned something like this, but the author of the piece was arguing that to refer to it as "AJAX" you are only referring to things that involved Asynchronous Javascript and XML. With most of the tasks that I've found a use for "AJAX" I've never used XML. Rather, we should just be referring to the general sense of using either XMLHttpRequest/Iframes as "Ajax" to keep things simple for consumers.

Re:So, nitpicking... (3, Informative)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945836)

I've never used XML. Rather, we should just be referring to the general sense of using either XMLHttpRequest/Iframes as "Ajax" to keep things simple for consumers.

IFrames are not required for AJAX.

All you need to do is have an xmlhttprequest object called by whatever event you like, it can then take the response and then somehow (usally div tag) change the contents of a web page. That's it.
The use of Iframes is 100% optional.

Re:So, nitpicking... (4, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945618)

It should be DHTML. DHTML, goddammit! Dynamic HTML! Just call it a dynamic web page!

"AJAX" is so irritating and non-descriptive. It should be clumped with other turds of terminology, like "blog," and ceremoniously flushed down the toilet bowl of language integrity to rid of us these awful, awful buzzwords that make people think they're suddenly technology masters. "OMG I'M USING AJAX D00D BECAUSE OF MY LITTLE SCRIPT TAG SNIPPET, LETS START AN AJAX COMPANY."

No, why don't you shut the fuck up and get out of my Internet!

Sorry...it's been a shitty day, and seeing the word "AJAX" on the front page of Slashdot yet again was the final straw. Rawr.

Re:So, nitpicking... (4, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945697)

I never thought DHTML was a very descriptive term either. Web pages can be made dynamic in several different ways. It seems like DHTML is usually used to describe JavaScript combined with CSS, but some people used it to describe server side stuff too. The problem with technical jargon is that it gets bastardized by marketing-speak.

Re:So, nitpicking... (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945741)

Web pages can be made dynamic in several different ways.

Which is why AJAX is so stupid. There's more to dynamic webpages than Javascript and XML.

Re:So, nitpicking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945732)

No, it's not DHTML. The most important thing about AJAX is that it handles communication between client and server (without reloading the page). DHTML lacks this.

Re:So, nitpicking... (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945774)

The definition of DHTML:

"Dynamic HTML or DHTML is a technique of creating interactive web sites by using a combination of the static markup language HTML, a client-side scripting language (such as JavaScript), the style definition language Cascading Style Sheets and the Document Object Model."

The phrase "Dynamic HTML" pretty much sums up what AJAX is, which is nothing more than using Javascript to make server requests and modify the DOM. It's so annoying that for some reason, the press is acting like this is a new technology.

Silicon Valley? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945352)

I thought Ajax was near Toronto, not Silicon Valley.

ya and...... (1, Troll)

rufuseddy (781982) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945357)

what didnt we know about this already?

Story title correction (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945652)

The editor made a mistake in posting this article. The title should read:

"Ajax Is the Buzzword of Silicon Valley."

Thanks.

Obligatory Link (5, Funny)

frostman (302143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945359)

Web Two Point Oh [andrewwooldridge.com]

Get your AJAX-enabled startup right there!

Re:Obligatory Link (1)

BigWhiteGuy_27 (804307) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945455)

Generated from above URL:

Your company name:
zVeligami
Your company product:
opml-based collaborative document editing via bittorrent

Re:Obligatory Link (1)

jamsessionjay (802511) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945571)

Every time I see a story about a startup raising another 10m in funding, I think about how the founders just sold off most of their company to VC's, who will most likely burn their company into the ground.

Re:Obligatory Link (2, Interesting)

Milican (58140) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945719)

I think about how they bilked someone out of $10 million who will probably never see a return. At least we're makin' jobs!

JOhn

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945362)

"Now his San Mateo, Calif., business has amassed $16 million in funding from venture-capital firms"

So throwing out the latest buzzwords works in getting VC money again?

I tried to get a buzz off ajax once... (1)

badmicrophone (858946) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945369)

it turned out to be more of a "burn".

Re:I tried to get a buzz off ajax once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945511)

...so YOU were that chick in that old Cheech and Chong movie!

Far out, man.

AJAX Special Hazard Precautions (2, Funny)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945777)

AJAX Special Hazard Precautions [donhopkins.com]

Anyone who tries to tell you that AJAX is a " new approach to web applications [adaptivepath.com] " is just rebranding old technology and hyping buzzwords, not engineering software in the real world. Because of browser and DHTML incompatibilities and limitiations, AJAX is like cocaine: it seems glamorous until you actually start using it, then the unintended consequences totally fuck you up.

Special Hazard Precautions for AJAX:

INGESTION: NAUSEA, VOMITING, AND DIARRHEA. EYES: EYE IRRITANT UPON DIRECT CONTACT. SKIN: MAY CAUSE SKIN IRRITATION UPON PROLONGED CONTACT. INHALATION: NONE UNDER NORMAL USE. PROLONGED INHALATION BY UNORTHODOX USE (NON-WETTED) OR ABUSE (SNIFFING) COULD PRODUCE LUNG DISEASE (SILICOSIS). N/K

Emergency/First Aid Proc: INGEST: IF EATEN/DRUNK--YOU MAY THROW UP. DRINK SIPS OF WATER/MILK. IF VOMIT CONTINUES, CALL POISON CTR/DR. EYES: IRRIT. FLUSH W/WATER 15 MIN. IF IRRIT PERSISTS, CALL POISON CTR/DR. SKIN: IRRIT. REMOVE WET CLOTHES. FLUSH W/WARM WATER 15 MIN. IF IRRIT PERSISTS, CALL DR/POISON CTR. INHAL: IF INHALED, MAY COUGH. TAKE SLOW DEEP BREATHS OF FRESH AIR, SIP WATER. IF COUGH PERSISTS, CALL DR/POISON CTR.

Here's the entire Ajax information sheet [ohio-state.edu] , with more warnings and hazard precautions.

-Don

JIT (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945373)

It has been almost a week without an AJAX story on the frontpage, it almost became something only old people in Korea use.

Just wait till XULRunner arrives. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945378)

Then AJAX will become obsolete.

But then again, it may take a while :(

Re:Just wait till XULRunner arrives. (1)

dvanatta (785378) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945842)

It's my understanding that XULRunner will not work with that browser which has a 90% market share while AJAX will. XULRunner won't obsolete anything.

AJAX? Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945387)

having my fire-belching Pentium peg out running a Javascript VM seems like a good use of resources.

AJAX is just an acculmulation of failures (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945406)

Seriously you build upon the failures that DHTML, HTML, Javascript, XML, XMLHTTRequest and you form a system which requires at least a 1 ghz processor just run a very simple GUI.

There is nothing special about this other than the incredible amount of sheer dependencies that exist. You cross browser incompatibilities you have inexact everything. This is not a good solution people.

This is also a good example of how bad Java and Sun has failed. If Sun would've opened up Java, let people distribute it, as well as from day 1 enabled easy RMI over HTTP we wouldn't be up to our necks in a horrible mixture of presentation logic and business logic.

So here we are, requiring gargantuan browser which are brought to a halt with this AJAX technology when we had many other technologies which did so much better but failed for various other reasons.

JUST BECAUSE AJAX NOW FINALLY WORKS DOESN'T MEAN IT IS A GOOD SOLUTION.

AJAX is creative glue (4, Informative)

joelsanda (619660) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945747)

Seriously you build upon the failures that DHTML, HTML, Javascript, XML, XMLHTTRequest and you form a system which requires at least a 1 ghz processor just run a very simple GUI.

AJAX-enabled applications like Google Maps and GMail run fine on my G3 iBook with Safari and OS X 10.4. I don't think they necessarily have to have additional processor requirements on the client side.

Saying DHTML, HTML, Javascript, XML, and XMLHTTRequest are all failures is a little extreme. Saying each fails at being everything is 100% correct and 200% redundant - nothing is everything. I applaud the use of XML and Javascript to place more processing on the client side. It's not without its problems, but then nothing is everything.

This is also a good example of how bad Java and Sun has failed. If Sun would've opened up Java, let people distribute it, as well as from day 1 enabled easy RMI over HTTP we wouldn't be up to our necks in a horrible mixture of presentation logic and business logic.

I agree with this - this was Sun's sweetspot about 10 years ago, wasn't it? Client's connecting to applications so our experience was built upon thin clients instead of desktop applications.

So here we are, requiring gargantuan browser which are brought to a halt with this AJAX technology when we had many other technologies which did so much better but failed for various other reasons.

Again - this is just not true, at least in my experience. If my 800 mhz iBook with OS 10.4 and Safari can run Gmail as fast as Mail.app then I'm sold on the usability of quality engineered AJAX-enabled applications.

Re:AJAX is just an acculmulation of failures (1)

yddod (778690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945755)

Sure AJAX might take longer to develop and debug but the only thing that matters is if the end user likes it. If the AJAX app can make their experience better for a particular site then in turn they spend more time and also refer more friends. On the back end there are other benefits such as lower bandwidth usage among many (at least in my case). Also your comment about needing a 1 Ghz processor is a bit our there. Sure I could write a GUI that could require a 2 Ghz processor but the name of the game is "lean and mean".

Re:AJAX is just an acculmulation of failures (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945767)

Seriously you build upon the failures that DHTML, HTML, Javascript, XML, XMLHTTRequest and you form a system which requires at least a 1 ghz processor just run a very simple GUI.

Ummmm.... I have a 1Ghz processor. Most people have 1Ghz processors. If most people couldn't run these GUI's they wouldn't exist because it would be worth the time to futz with them. The fact of the matter is that most people have way more processing power on their desks than they really need. Unless you do lots of video transcoding or game playing, a modern processor is total overkill.

In the end, applications are always designed to work with a target environment. If everybody has 1Ghz processors, it's really not worth the trouble to make it run on a lower end system. Furthermore, if you can enhance the overall ease of use of the system, etc, why not suck up a few more megahertz here and there? Obviously this has practical limits. Designing a web app that needed a 4Ghz processor to run would be assenine because nobody has them.

In the end though if it's complex, broken, and a resource hog then people just won't use it. But I think google maps prooved you can do some pretty cool stuff with it and so it's piqued people's interest in it. It's not going to be the solution for everything and sometimes it might not be worth the hassle, but it's one more tool in the toolbox.

Re:AJAX is just an acculmulation of failures (1)

Mantrid Drone (699799) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945768)

You have to keep in mind that expectations for web applications are so low to begin with due to the absolutely craptastic nature of the technologies involved, that any ugly hack that makes them suck a little bit less (from the user's standpoint) gets everybody excited beyond belief.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, this mania should be welcomed rather than loathed. Having most of the industry focused on these dead-end, mickey-mouse technologies actually opens up unique opportunities for those of us who have come up with more creative and elegant approaches for solving these types of problems.

So what? (5, Insightful)

pestilence669 (823950) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945407)

I've been doing AJAX for three years... before that we called it "remote scripting."

This is nothing new. Calling AJAX "new" is like calling email "new", when it's over 25 years old... AJAX-like techniques being about eight years old.

I'd have written more cool "AJAX" interfaces if only my damn managers knew what in the hell I was talking about back then.

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945527)

Same here. I've had "ajax" apps out there since 2001. Almost all sites I work on I put that in. I also almost always either return an xhtml fragment and do the innerHTML dance or use js xmlrpc to connect to the server's api and use js to update the ui. But it's a kludge, really.

I use it as little as possible, and only when I absoluly have no other choice.

I never tell the managers I use this. They think using replacing nulls with zeros on integer fields is acceptable in a data warehouse environment. Eh, the hackish workaround I've had to implement!!!

In any case, if you really want to go crazy, then build a light xmlrp server in python to act as a bridge, then py2exe it (if you so desire) and run it on the client. Then have a local html+js call it via localhost:someport and it will go out and get the data out on the intarweb. Presto. You've just eliminated the central server. Expose everything as a xmlrpc services, and have only a static web server, with ONE html file. Save to desktop, run, and get the full intarweb, with no cross-domain limit.

And the python bridge can be custmized to do whatever (use Twisted? SOAP, encryption, whatever) and make it generic enough to be completely reuseable.

Beyond Ajax!

Re:So what? (1)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945640)

I don't know why everyone's getting wrapped up in the XML and not using JSON instead.
I guess AJAJ doesn't sound cool enough.
Personally, I could do with less XML (i.e. none.)

Re:So what? (1)

Tofurkey (738883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945760)

Remote scripting is floating off on some Data Island somewhere....

re-inventing the wheel.. (1)

Gavin86 (856684) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945415)

..or postit note.

http://gavin.panicus.org/downloads/javascript/post [panicus.org]

Postit Notes 2.0. I'm turning this into an AJAX ready application (mozilla only during testing)

I've found the elusive formula! VC's can send me an email to get contact information to send checks!!

1) Notes
2) Add the word "AJAX"
3) PROFIT!!!

Time to cash in on the VC bonanza! (1)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945423)

OK, so I'll put 'AJAX', 'Ruby-on-Rails', and 'Web 2.0' in my business plan and I'm sure to win the jackpot!

shit? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945428)

FreeBSD at about 80 N3w core is going And building is OF AMERICA) is the bloodfarts. FreeBSD that *BSD 0wned. code.' Don't Shower Don't just clear she couldn't

Desktop.com (3, Informative)

_flan (156875) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945433)

Desktop.com had this stuff in 1999, but unfortunately the browsers of the day (IE4 and Netscape 4) weren't really capable of staying up long enough to make it worthwhile. There was even a company that had a nice little web-based spreahsheet app.

Still, I haven't seen a good, platform-independant, integrated sever- and client-side solution yet. Back at Desktop in was *all* client side except the actual persistence of objects so it wasn't really an issue.

Ah, well.

Re:Desktop.com (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945625)

Still, I haven't seen a good, platform-independent, integrated sever- and client-side solution yet.

I worked for a startup called "State Software", which offered the "State Application Framework" back in 2000-2002 -- which did just that. Platform independent (on both the server AND client side), and relatively easy to use. It was basically a java back end, with a great browser-independent javascript client library.

Long story short, 2002 was a very bad time to be a startup, and VC funding wasn't quite as easy to get as it had been in the mid/late nineties. Additionally they had the technology long before anyone even coined the term "AJAX", so suffice it to say, it wasn't a popular movement just yet. They got some attention from the biggest names in ecommerce, but no one ever put up any money.

Bathroom sanitizer and web applications (1)

pmike_bauer (763028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945435)

I thought Ajax was just a bathroom cleaner...
That is still correct. JavaScript and XMLHttpRequest make the wretched bathroom that is Web application development a tad more sanitary.

Re:Bathroom sanitizer and web applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945494)

Hey, I can misquote too:

"The right of the people to keep and arm bears shall not be!"

Tired of hearing of it (5, Funny)

Mancat (831487) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945441)

Ajax has got to be the biggest buzzword of the year. Thank god nobody has figured out how to use Ajax to enable the community and synergize their collaborative efforts towards successification.

Buzzword war! (1)

veg (76076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945534)

Well done that man! I thought the term "AJAX" was bad enough but you had to go one better my using your joker: "synergize".

You have a wonderful career in hell ahead of you :)

Re:Tired of hearing of it (1)

jzeejunk (878194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945751)

... how to use Ajax to ... ok then let's touch base and figure out how to leverage ...

Re:Tired of hearing of it (2, Funny)

talksinmaths (199235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945838)

Thank god nobody has figured out how to use Ajax to enable the community and synergize their collaborative efforts towards successification.

I must question the truthiness of that statement.

It's gmail... right? (2, Interesting)

ParadoxDruid (602583) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945443)

I'm watching the flash-based Zimbra demo right now, and they're bragging about innovations like "conversation view" and "tags" on messages. Which gmail has had for a long time. Yes, I know gmail is essentialy AJAX, but this is the demo for the Zimbra collaboration suite.

Why would anyone think Zimbra was innovative based on this demo?

Re:It's gmail... right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945609)

Why would anyone think Zimbra was innovative based on this demo?

well... because they are VCs with money burning a hole in their pocket, that's why.

it's the way things are done here in the valley

Duh (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945445)

when he started his company in December 2003, "I really thought that Ajax was just a bathroom cleaner."

Well of course, the AJAX buzzword was made up in 2005. Back in 2003, everybody called it remote scripting, DHTML or XMLHttpRequest.

AJAX: Beyond The Hype (5, Insightful)

WombatControl (74685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945458)

AJAX is just buzz. Yes, it's a great tool for making better use of the web. Yes, it's relatively simple. Yes, it's flashy.

But it's still just a tool - and it can be used for good (see any of 37signal's apps) or evil (sites that use AJAX for navigation and break the back/forwards buttons). It won't make a badly designed web app better - in fact, incorrectly used, it can make things worse.

The Web 2.0 is about more than just flashy technologies like AJAX: it's about open architectures, semantic code, separation of content, presentation, and now behavior, and better user experiences. AJAX can enable any of those, but it can also destroy any of those. In fact, it's probably made web designers lives harder: now designers need to be familiar with separating not only content from presentation, but behavior from content and presentation as well. That can be very tricky, and it's tempting just to slap on some onclick handlers to your links rather than using the DOM and separating behavior from content. Furthermore, it's very tempting to have AJAX-enabled sites to that don't gracefully degrade in browsers without JavaScript - which defeats the point of the accessible web.

AJAX is a great technique, but it's not a panacea, and it's not a replacement for sound design and UI architecture.

Re:AJAX: Beyond The Hype (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945592)

Why does some old fart always have to complain about compatibility? If you're using a browser that doesn't do javascript, you're probably used to disappointment. And I can understand how that can make you bitter. But still.

Re:AJAX: Beyond The Hype (1)

cas2000 (148703) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945758)

> Why does some old fart always have to complain about compatibility?
> If you're using a browser that doesn't do javascript, you're probably
> used to disappointment. And I can understand how that can make you bitter.
> But still.


it's not just about old browsers that don't do javascript. it's also about security and being unwilling to let just any random web site run code on your computer.

as far as i can tell, the primary use for javascript on web sites is:

1. destroying navigation
2. destroying the ability to middle-click on a link so it comes up in a new tab or window.
3. hiding a link's destination in the status bar
4. advertising
5. spying on people

since i don't regard any of these as essential - or even useful - features i browse with javascript disabled.

actually, i used to have it disabled but since i discovered the NoScript extension to firefox, i have javascript disabled by default and enabled for the few sites that i want to use that really need it. noscript's very flexible - it can allow javascript from, say, www.example.com and still block and SCRIPT SRC= javascript URLs from, say, doubleclick and other scumbags. even better, i can allow javascript for a site either temporarily (i.e. for the current session) or permanently.

this works even better than using my squid redirector to block javascript from scumbag sites.

the more that these scumbags try to run invasive code on our machines, the more we need tools like noscript.

Dear Web 2.0 (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945694)

Dear Web 2.0,

Hi, is there a free patch for my current Web 1.0 to upgrade it to 2.0, and will my Web 1.0 sites continue to work in Web 2.0?

Also, should I wait for the Web 2.1 patch before I make the switch? I usually avoid x.0 releases because I hear they're buggy.

Thanks for the info on Web 2.0.

Signed,
Victim of buzzwords

Ajax and Productivity (2, Insightful)

MaceyHW (832021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945466)

All the hype seems to be around slick consumer apps, but as an employee at a law firm that just switched over to a third-party web-based app for handling all case documents and communications, I would dance for joy if the interface were updated to use Ajax. 10% of the time I spend using the system is lost waiting for a response to my clicks as I navigate around in the system. Everything goes through https, which is a good thing, but only makes the response time slower. Each pause is just long enough to contemplate how long it's been since I checked /.

Yeah Google maps is great, but as more and more companies move to 'web-based solutions', the use of ajax could have really improve productivity. I mean isn't that why Microsoft created it in the first place ;)

Gong! (0, Flamebait)

jeffvoigt (866600) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945479)

Slashdot should know better than to post a pure fluff article. This is nothing more than an advertisement. If we're going to masquerade this as news content, as least include how much slashdot got as a kickback. ;)

...update as quickly as desktop software. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945481)

This is, of course, a prerequisite for successful software that you don't own but get from someone's server. Let's see now, who might be thinking about that? Bill somebody, wasn't it?

December 2003? "AJAX"? (1)

tomgilder (255203) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945483)

Zimbra's chief executive, Satish Dhamaraj, says that when he started his company in December 2003, "I really thought that Ajax was just a bathroom cleaner."

Shame the (bloody stupid) term "AJAX" wasn't coined until February 18, 2005.

Please also see AJAX = Fraud [codemilitia.com] .

Whoa venture-capital firms? (2, Insightful)

loconet (415875) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945484)

Whoa.. venture-capital firms investing in web related stuff? Have we fallen into a worm hole and are back in 1999/2000? I need to get myself some of that dotcom stock and sell it right after.

Joking aside, isn't it interesting/sad that it takes a lot of hype backed up by a big name like Google for a old technology tricks to get serious attention from investors? "They are doing it, so it must be good" type of reasoning. Hopefully this bubble won't burst into flames because hype aside, doing what ajax does has been pretty useful and it would be a shame for 'ajax' to be associated with failure.

Zimbra's stuff and AJAX (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945489)

I've been using the Zimbra's Hosted demo. It's pretty cool that the whole page doesn't update. But I didn't notice any (appreciable) increase in speed over a standard web based email client. Is AJAX really something to make the developer's life easier and subsequently more productive and not necessarily for faster online applications? Or am I missing something here?

ha ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945495)

"allowing webpages to update as quickly as desktop software, powering applications like Google Maps"

Not quite as fast as desktop software, unless that desktop software is the latest Microsoft bloat.

Google Maps, while responsive for a web page, is not quite as fast as this story implies.

Oh Jeeze (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945507)

This horse hasn't even been born yet and it's already been beaten to death.

OMFG! (4, Funny)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945514)

Ajax, or 'Asynchronous JavaScript and XML,' is allowing webpages to update as quickly as desktop software

Wow, and with the XML you can make it automatically talk to any system!!!!
e-Business has reached a new plateau! Synergy abounds! Am I e-dreaming or what! Woohoo!!

I should be working on an AJAX app right now (4, Interesting)

amichalo (132545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945518)

Though I'm reading /. I should be working on my AJAX app for medical billing. AJAX allows us to send the structure of a complex billing system to the client, then update the data at the speed of clientside Javascript. Even allows us to pull scanned medical images ina fraction of the time it used to take because we are only loading the image selected, not all the thumbnails and other wrapper data.

But I don't get why Google Maps gets the credit for this. Microsoft (yuck!) developed this concept for web based Outlook years ago, and it has been implemented by many smaller developers since then.

Perhaps all this press will get Javascript behaving between browsers and platforms. That is the worst part of AJAX coding!!!

IP? (3, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945524)

This will be a case study in IP law. How many patents will appear covering each and every aspect of Ajax as developers reinvent techniques long since commonplace in pre-web software? I'm usually not pessimistic but given recent evidence (Blackberry, Eolas, etc) it's pretty clear that patenting trivial techniques, regardless of prior art, is effective.

How will a new platform emerge when its components are owned by multiple licensors? The answer is obvious; Microsoft (or Google, Canopy, etc) will buy them all and own the whole enchilada. Don't count on any Open Source implementations escaping the IP lawyers this time around.

Clean-sweeps the competition (5, Funny)

wynterwynd (265580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945526)

Soon to be met by stiff competition from

Content Oriented Markup Elements: Traditional
 
  and

Server Oriented Funneling Transmission
Streaming Concurrent Rational Units Bidirectionally
 

Re:Clean-sweeps the competition (3, Informative)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945614)

Well this sounds like fun...

Hows about

Decoupled Agile Web Networking

Wow that doesn't make any sense.

Re:Clean-sweeps the competition (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945651)

or:

Internet Virtual Objects Refreshed remotelY

Re:Or (1)

DigitalHammer (581235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945688)

Microsoft Remediated Computer Language: Extensible Asynchronous Nullifier :)

WELCOME (3, Funny)

zephc (225327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945543)

WELCOME to Zimbra-com. This is... Zimbra-com!

Re:WELCOME (1)

Sabaki (531686) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945595)

Heh. That and my friend who goes by the name Zombra are what I think of every time I read "Zimbra". Oh, and the Talking Heads song.

Pulling Tiers (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945548)

If we split OpenOffice along its presentation/processing tiers, turning those APIs into XML/HTTP, we can have pools of OpenOffice servers accessed by AJAX clients. Let's see MS WebOffice compete with that.

Re:Pulling Tiers (2, Insightful)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945678)

If we split OpenOffice along its presentation/processing tiers, turning those APIs into XML/HTTP, we can have pools of OpenOffice servers accessed by AJAX clients. Let's see MS WebOffice compete with that.

Please don't.

So far, I haven't seen anyone manage a proper, pixel-perfect page layout or drawing program with AJAX - people seem to pee themselves with excitement [walterzorn.com] when they manage to get Javascript to draw basic lines and circles.

I'd like to see someone implement, say, Google Earth (not Maps) in AJAX, or Adobe Photoshop. If you desperately needed network transparency then the prehistoric X11 and GLX wouldn't break a sweat running such kinds of programs remotely, whereas AJAX wouldn't know where to begin.

This AJAX thing is a buzzword for an interesting and useful technique for making existing web applications a bit more dynamic and responsive (it's ideal for email or database-type tasks) - it's not some glorious new application framework which will revolutionise the whole computing world. Computers can do far more, and it seems ridiculous to have to limit new software to the tiny little niche it provides.

Re:Pulling Tiers (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945793)

Er, we've already got a great (at least in the sense of "large") Web infrastructure with market buyin and lots of developers, which is totally cross-platform. Distributed X apps have none of that. If you haven't seen any good AJAX drawing programs yet, that means you should encourage people to develop one, not discourage it. Especially since encouraging X development for the same benefit is obviously a doomed adventure.

Moreover, what does word processing and spreadsheets have to do with WYSIWYG paint programs? And how is it different from email and "database-type tasks"? Those two pairs of tasks, combined, are identical, and therefore obviously well-suited to the thin client AJAX model.

Re:Pulling Tiers (1)

ForumTroll (900233) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945692)

I really don't understand this obsession with an online office suite. I haven't met one person that really wants to use something like this. The average computer comes with well over 80GBs nowadays so why not use some of that space for rich client side applications. Most online interfaces are nowhere near competing with their rich client side counterparts and I can't see any significant benefit of having my office suite online other than having updates rolled out to clients automatically. Furthermore, I'm not interested in having a subscription based service model, which is what all these companies are aiming for. I'm also not interested in typing my documents up through a web browser where the creators of the online office suite easily have the ability to monitor what I'm typing. No matter how fast a connection you currently have, nothing is going to be faster than having the client application stored on your hard drive. Look at all the people that have been saying OO.o is slow, do these people think this is going to improve if we host and run the entire thing over the network??? How many features will we need to remove to make this run at an even remotely acceptable speed?

With the current bandwidth constraints that many people have I just don't see something like this as feasible or necessary. Why would you want to do everything through your web browser over the network? It just doesn't make any sense to me however maybe some of you will point out some benefits I'm not seeing.

Re:Pulling Tiers (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945821)

It comes from the main benefit of online apps: your data, anywhere, without dealing with it as data that is someplace. So I don't need to schlep a computer, no matter how small, anywhere. I can use the ubiquitous web terminals, without worrying about security as much, to search and use my documents. Including editing them, whether words or numbers. In other words, ubiquitous documents which come bundled with my familiar apps for working with them. Without installing SW or the rest of the work we do to keep the computers working on our data, rather than the computers just working for us.

1999 Called... (-1, Flamebait)

0kComputer (872064) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945551)

They want their corporate buzzwords and crappy startup start up company back.

Ajax is dead-end technology, Flex is the future (-1, Troll)

WrongByDefinition (905649) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945563)

Let me lead the pack by saying Ajax is not the future, just the past's last gasp. Ajax might seem like a dream combination of souped-up Javascript and souped-up HTML but really its old technology in a fancy wrapper. With all the cross-browser, cross-platform issues, lack of stateful sessions (I dare you to say 'cookie'), no decent IDE, and at the heart of it is just a hack. Elegant, yes, but a hack. This isn't web 2.0, this is web 1.1.

Now to really bring out the hate.

First, I hate crappy Flash banners, obtuse flash navigation systems, and pointless flash splash screens as much as everybody else, but what Macromedia Flex is bringing to the table almost makes up for it.

Visit http://labs.macromedia.com/ [macromedia.com] and you'll see the new version of Macromedia Flex, (which will be priced under $1000.00 for the IDE and compiler come the next version), and you can truly experience Web 2.0. This thing is a dream, builds fast, clean apps with professional components and containers on top of a powerful framework. This isn't Avalon bloatware, or lazlo OSS 'almost-ware', and it certainly isn't Ajax hack-ware, this is where the future of rich online applications are headed.

Try it (free to download the 120+ day Alpha) and then disagree. Or stay old-school, and play catch-up later on.

Talk about a delayed reaction (1, Interesting)

serutan (259622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945564)

This shows you the power of a website and a buzzword. I think xmlHttpRequest has been around as an ActiveX object since IE 5. More recently Mozilla added native support. Hopefully the IE7 team has done the same thing. At any rate I've been using this technique for 5 or 6 years. When I first learned about it I thought WOW, this is really going to revolutionize the web! A web page can be a little client/server app, just sitting there handling requests all day. No need for any crapola to maintain session state between refreshes. I always wondered why Microsoft never did anything to promote it. ASP.Net seemed to ignore the concept entirely, instead encouraging page refreshes whenever anything happened. Now its being promoted with a catchy name and it takes off like a rocket. Go figure.

XmlHttpRequest by itself is really easy to use. You submit a request asynchronously using the Send method, and you write an OnReadyStateChanged event handler which watches for readyState "Complete" and does whatever you want with the returned data, which can be either XML or just plain text. For example, plop it into the InnerHTML of a DIV, or in IE you can do a client-side XSL transformation. The Ajax implementations I've seen are just javascript object wrappers for this. Sajax adds browser compatibility, which is nice if you are working on the web, but if you want to use this technique for typical corporate intranet apps where you know IE is the only browser, you really don't need to bother learning about Ajax. Just look up the XmlHttpRequest object and you'll see how simple it is.

Re:Talk about a delayed reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945829)

Well, here's the thing (and I say this all the time):

Your best idea, wonderfully executed, is the SMALLEST part of making a success out of something, whether it's a program, web site, movie, CD, business model, or in this case a coding/communication technique.

It's much more difficult to get your idea known in the marketplace of ideas.

And after the idea is known, it's difficult to get people to want it.

AJAX may just be rebranding of an old technique, but between putting a catchy name on it and pointing at a killer-app demo of the technique like Google Maps, a few people, a few companies have succeeded in getting "AJAX the concept" above the noise floor AND in getting people to want it. Job well done there, I say.

Yes, of course IT managers will want it even though they don't really know what it is.

Yes, you will be able to build crap apps with it as with any other technique (is there a way to prevent bad coders from making awful programs in any language?).

But it looks useful and worthwhile (judging from some of the AJAX apps I've seen), and because of the newfound heat on the name:

-You'll be able to get decent IDEs well adapted for coding this way
-You'll be able to get formal and specific training from universities and vendors
-You'll be able to list it on your resume in a comprehensible way
-You may be able to get a certificate (someday)
-You should be able to specialize and get REALLY paid for the next 12 months or so

and lots of other good things.

Dot-bomb all over again? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945568)

I thought that investors had learned from the dot-bomb era. Yet here we go again, with another company with no product, no way of making money, with $16 million in venture capital. Wow.

I run a brick-and-mortar business that is profitable, growing, and even has actual physical assets, yet I can't raise a few hundred grand to open some new stores. I must be doing something terribly wrong if these guys can get money for an idea for a program that they'll give away once it's complete (or if it's ever completed).

Check this out... (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945673)

VCs are worried. [nwsource.com]

I run a brick-and-mortar business that is profitable, growing, and even has actual physical assets, yet I can't raise a few hundred grand to open some new stores. I must be doing something terribly wrong if these guys can get money for an idea for a program that they'll give away once it's complete (or if it's ever completed).

In case you haven't heard of this book: The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship [amazon.com]

I think that book will help you with jumping through the hoops in getting money. In nutshell, have a written plan on how you'll use the money or better yet, a business plan and have plenty of evidence that opening those stores will generate the extra $$$ to pay off the loan. I'd advise staying away from VCs. They'll want an ROI of at least 40% a year and then they'll fuck you.

Oh... (1)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945701)

and join a local entrepreneur organization - if there is one. You get some insight from other biz owners. If you haven't yet, look into some entrepreneurial classes at your local college - both credit and non-credit. The profs will know more about the your area too.

Good Luck!

I don't get it (1)

eples (239989) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945575)

It's a design pattern, it's not even a new design pattern.
If you're just figuring this out now, you haven't been around for long enough.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945621)

It's a design pattern, it's not even a new design pattern.

Definitely. I had the idea of doing this stuff as early as 2001, and I'm sure there
were people doing it well before me. Arguably the folks who came up with the
XmlHttpRequest object, and the very idea of embedding a SOAP / XML "client" in a
web-browser in the first place, probably envisioned at least some of these uses.
Otherwise, why the heck did they put that functionality in there in the first place?

AJAX has been around (1)

glh (14273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945615)

It's nice to see that the "rest of the world" is finally seeing the importance of moving to decent web based user interfaces. However, the concept of AJAX has been around for quite some time. I was using a technology called "Remote Scripting" back in the late 90's that allowed you to hit server side pages via a "proxy" java applet, and then update your page however you wanted with javascript. Granted, it was pretty ugly code, but it made for a heck of a UI. No more annoying "flickering" on the web page, as the users used to call it.

I was quite displeased when ASP.NET came out and really put everything on the postback paradigm. They tried to cobble together something called "smart navigation" which was basically loading the page in a hidden frame and then updating the changes. What a waste! Instead, I was using the web service behavior. Downside is it only works with IE.

Now there is something on the .NET platform that Microsoft is making called "Atlas". It builds on AJAX but allows a developer to write ASP.NET server controls that render AJAX-ish code. At least that's the concept, I believe. Will be nice to see how it pans out.

Having said all that, I'm glad that the rest of the world is catching up. Gmail was a big step in the right direction showing people the kind of functionality that AJAX can offer (though I don't think it's using ajax, I could be wrong though). Web apps are definitely "where it's at". I think we will begin to see the next evolution of web applications with this technology.

AJAX is Really Cool and All... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945632)

But if only there were some way to implement an AJAX app without all that browser bloat, and possibly using a more concise language. I predict that the next big step will happen when someone makes it possible to simply retrieve their data from a remote data source without needing a web browser to make it happen. Now bear with me here because I know this is hard to believe, but perhaps a small language with only 20 or so reserved words could be created. Then some sort of standard library could be created for it which would provide the basic operations necessary to interact directly with the operating system and related services. It could be so simple that it would be easy to turn directly into machine code which could then run without the need for a web browser or a virtual machine! Perhaps this completely hypothetical language could be named with a single letter to denote its simplicity, maybe "N" or "Q" or something.

I believe that as soon as someone implements a concept like this, it will revolutionize the IT industry as we know it!

Re:AJAX is Really Cool and All... (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945786)

C'mon, that's just crazy talk :).

Ajax hype (1)

paraguaey (923194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945649)

I don't get all the hype about Ajax; it's just the modern-day equivalent of cross-frame scripting, but obviously a little easier to do now with better facilities for error checking, but I was doing this stuff 4-5 years ago.

Bullshit (0, Troll)

bataras (169548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945662)

Yet another stupid industry acronym for crappy cobbled together old technology. Wow lookie lookie, we can capture mouse movement events! and hey, we can download more jpg files and move shit around on the screen in those same events. Big freakin deal

What are the chances that.... (1)

xquark (649804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945677)

someone already has a patent on this form of technology?

Arash

Can't we just have Telnet/SSH with HTML formating? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945730)

Why all these cludges to make web pages appear like a terminal program? Why not just create a standard for Telnet/SSH clients displaying HTML? A link would be treated as a text string that would be sent to the host as a string... forms could be sent as a string of XML data... Build your SSH/Telnet client into the browser, and you are good to go!

AJAX is nice concept, but such a cludge!

Ajax breaks the web (5, Insightful)

mboedick (543717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945782)

My complaint with Ajax is that it makes scripting the web much more difficult. I write scripts that grab content from the web and do things with it as well as scripts that post content to the web. I was trying to write one of these the other day for a site that used Ajax for the login form. If I still felt like it was worth writing, my script just became ten times more complex.

How do you link to content that is behind or otherwise encrusted with Ajax? How do crawlers find it? Without Ajax, you can look at the source of a page and get a good idea of what it's doing. With Ajax, you basically have to reverse engineer it (for an example, go look at the Gmail code).

The web should continue to stay one URL leads to one document which is a self-contained chunk of plain text containing everything you need to view its contents.

Ajax breaks the transparency and simplicity of the web for no good reason. It offers only increased responsiveness, which unless you are on a modem or something is minimal and mostly imagined by the user.

We control the horizontal, we control the vertical (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945796)

Hello, Zimbra? Yeah, 1999 called and it wants its hype back.

Okay, that wasn't funny, but this feels like someone just reversed the polarity on the main deflector dish and I got beamed back into the pre-dot bomb days. They've raised a bunch of VC money, they're buzzword compliant, they're going to "change the face" of something...come on.

Though they do seem to have a product, so perhaps I'm being too harsh.

where are the lawyers? (2, Interesting)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13945810)

Obviously the VC's haven't talked to the Colgate Palmolive lawyers?

Anyway, what I see is that AJAX will allow me to push all of the controller (MVC) logic onto the server. And I can hide script logic as needed (though can be done with jsp's or servlets/JSF). Aside from making remote scripting easier (i.e. don't need to rewrite functions), it will allow me to write code that looks more procedural and manageable than straight HTML. So it's another tool to add to the arsenal--hence the article sounds like more hype than new tech.

The weird thing is ESR thinks [catb.org] that more javascript than html-content is a train wreck waiting to happen. I would disagree here with something like AJAX in the mix.

Then again, AJAX is old tech and DHTML will likely have a greater impact.

shopping on line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13945830)

anybody remember when VIRTUAL MALLS were the hot thing on the web? And three-dimensional VR web browsing?

that wasted a bunch of money too
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