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What's Spreading "the AJAX Wildfire"?

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the high-prevailing-winds-and-lack-of-rainfall? dept.

192

An anonymous reader writes "AJAXWorld Magazine is running an article entitled "What's So Special About AJAX?" in which the majority of the contributors agree among themselves that AJAX "heralds a new, global sense of what the web can be and what the web can do, in ways that are so different but so much better than what we have been used to." While many of those the magazine consulted adduced technical reasons for the spread what one of them, Rich Internet Application pioneer Coach Wei, calls "the AJAX wildfire," only two mention how human nature — including that of software developers — is, well, notoriously susceptible to the latest fad. Which side would you agree with?"

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not just a new fad (2, Insightful)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896115)

AJAX is becoming popular because it helps do away with the concept of pages that have to have every element transmitted and redrawn on every roundtrip. AJAX does one better and essentially eliminates the roundtrip altogether. A button click just sends the data that's pertinent and redraws only the pertinent parts.

Ruby is more likely to be just another fad, AJAX is actually something new. That's not to say someone won't make a better way to do what AJAX does (they probably will), but AJAX is definitely something unique, new, and important.

Re:not just a new fad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896139)

Thanks for telling us what everyone already knows. Don't you have some sophomore assignemnet to do?

Re:not just a new fad (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896212)

This is not an "insightful" comment, because it's wrong on at least two counts.

But I'll not toss away a mod point to say so, only to have it trashed by some Ajax fanboi in metamod.

1. Ajax does NOT eliminate the round trip between client and server. It just lends the ILLUSION of doing so. Sure it looks cool and wonderful, but requests still have to go to the server, and responses still have to come back over the wire. It only *looks* seamless if you've a broadband connection, which lots of folks still don't.

2. Ajax is NOT new. The technology has been around for a while now. For that matter, it's not even really dependent on XmlHttpRequest - you could do much the same thing with IFRAME elements, at least on your own site.

And Ajax has at least two potential problems in common with frames - poorly-implemented apps don't provide a way to bookmark results - if you use content from another provider, then you're dependent on that being available, and you need to provide a fallback in case they aren't.

I don't object to Ajax, I actually think it's pretty cool. But it's not new, and it doesn't change the way the Web actually works.

(And for anybody who thinks I'm just miffed by the parent's cheap shot at Ruby - I personally don't use or care about Ruby. But it was a cheap shot.)

Re:not just a new fad (0, Flamebait)

russellh (547685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896497)

I don't object to Ajax, I actually think it's pretty cool. But it's not new, and it doesn't change the way the Web actually works. You're either insane or you weren't there in 1994. From the perspective of one who thought CGI was stupid in 1994, AJAX is totally new and better. That is all.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896559)

No, JavaScript was new compared to "being there in 1994".

If he was there in 1999-2001 or so, it's nothing new.
Name 5 ways "AJAX" differs technologically from "DHTML".

Re:not just a new fad (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896633)

Comparing AJAX to DHTML isn't valid. They address different areas of technology entirely. You might as well ask someone to compare the taste of oranges to the responsiveness of a Mini Cooper.

Re:not just a new fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896519)

XmlHttpRequest - you could do much the same thing with IFRAME elements, at least on your own site.

As far as I'm aware, XMLHttpRequest has the same restrictions as iframes and most other ways of accessing documents in different domains, so there's no difference in the "on your own site" aspect - in Mozilla it's the same origin policy [mozilla.org] and is applied to XMLHttpRequest too. That's actually quite annoying when you really want to load things from other domains; cross-document messaging [whatwg.org] is a handy solution (allowing one document to open itself to messages coming from anywhere, as long as it takes the responsibility to provide its own security to make sure nothing bad happens), though currently it's only implemented in Opera.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896586)

But Ajax makes it so you only download the updated information instead of a whole page with all the layout and previous information, so it is still better, specially for those without broadband connection - as long as a "Please wait - updating" message or something like that is shown at the time of updating.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896223)

I am sorry, did you just say AJAX is NEW? UNIQUE?

9 years ago I used hidden IFrame in the browser that communicated with the server and then passed the data back and forward between that hidden frame and the main window. It was exactly like AJAX but instead of XML I was using a simpler, a faster way to transfer data: key-value pairs. And I came up with that on my own too, but I know that others came up with the same (similar) solutions.

Of-course XMLHttpRequest makes the job easier, but actually the XML part does not.

Re:not just a new fad (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896251)

The XML thing makes it easier in that you don't have to program in the data encoder/decoder. It handles being able to put any text in it with proper escaping, and have the data be easily read on the other side. Plus if you use a simple XML schema, it's not that much heavier than using key/value pairs. I mean, you could use something really complicated, but you don't have to, and your probably better off using a simple schema for many reasons. I don't think it is any different than what you are doing, especially since that what everybody does mostly isn't ajax, and is often just something that's very similar, but leaves out the xml part, in exchange for what's easier depending on your application. I've found it easier to just send back JS wrapped in an XML container so that there doesn't have to be a large library of code on the client to handle every little situation that they may encounter. Most of the stuff that ends up happening as the result of the AJAX call (showing a message, updating a couple of HTML elements, or removing a few) only take 2 or 3 lines anyway, especially with a very small library of helper functions on the client side. Plus you don't have to put up with building a complicated XML parsing engine in JS on the client side.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896270)

Easier to use XML rather than key/value pairs? ;)))) Dude, Javascript Arrays can be loaded with a single string that contains a list of key/value pairs with any number of dimensions. For some purposes you don't even need keys, just values. A list of values works perfectly fine without any additional placeholders.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896299)

I was thinking more on the server side. If you need to read the data on the server, it's easier for it to be in XML as the parser is already built, in just about every server side language available. Even on the server side, you most languages offer a split/tokenizer function, however, it's not always that easy. Key value pairs work well, but what happens to your data when you send CRLF in the middle of a value, or other weird characters that may interfere with your parsing. If you're seperating keys and values with character X, what happens when you want to send that character otherwise, how well does your split/tokenizer function handle that? XML has all this figured out already. I mean, I could write my own parser, but I really don't see the point when a simple XML schema is only minimally more verbose, allows me to send hierarchical data if I ever need to, and is already coded and well tested.

Re:not just a new fad (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896332)

You'll learn that XML is no silver bullet when you grow up and leave your parents' basement, you tedious little cunt.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896487)

I think maybe you need to do a little more research. You'll find that we've been sending data from the browser to the server - even including those pesky CRLF character codes, without needing XML, for several years now ;-) Key/value pairs are much simpler and faster to decode at either end than XML; and although XML does have its place, it's certainly not the magic bullet you're making it out to be... I've also been doing "AJAX" data transfers with Javascript for several years now, both using iFrames, and piggy-backing data in cookies using image requests, before the XML HTTP Request object was available/stable. Why it's suddenly being touted as a "new" idea is beyond me...

Re:not just a new fad (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896619)

I never said that XML was the silver bullet, or that it was the answer to all life's problems. A lot of the problems with XML tend to stem from the fact that you have to (or at least usually the way it's implemented) load the entire document into memory and parse it before you can start using it. And then, to get to any specific point within the document, you have to search from the beginning. This makes it quite a kludge when you are dealing large data files in the GB range. I'd rather use CSV for exchanging large amounts of data across a network in this situaion. However, in the situation we are talking about, that being Ajax, where you are generally sending no more than 1 K of text, usually less than 250 B, it doesn't really make that much of a difference. I have no problem with using key value pairs. I think that it could be useful in a lot of cases. However, I've found that using XML makes the data a little easier to deal with on both sides. Key value pairs would be a little bit lighter, and would provide basically the same functionality, yet I feel more comfortable using XML.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896564)

On the server side if you want to make your application slower, than certainly, go ahead, use XML for client/server communications. I don't want to make my application slower, thus I will rather use key/values, lists of data. Obviously that is when encode() javascript function becomes useful and on the server side use properties handler.

Re:not just a new fad (2, Insightful)

jozeph78 (895503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896569)

Why doesn't anyone ever mention JSON on this forum? Why parse out XML into a javascript "object" when the literal notation is not much more difficult and a lot more efficient to "parse" back into the language that will be using it. Not only is it evaulated more efficiently but you'll probably learn a ton about advanced Javascript along the way. Since I don't believe in Ajax frameworks that completely remove you from the JS, I'm a big fan of JSON responses for this reason alone.

Is there something terrible about JSON that I have yet to be burned on?

Re:not just a new fad (1)

phaggood (690955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896677)

>Easier to use XML rather than key/value pairs? ;)))) Dude, Javascript Arrays can be loaded with a single string

And, there's always JSON [json.org] if you don't feel like hand-wrangling all those value pairs.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896690)

you don't need JSON to load an array and then to access array elements.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

jozeph78 (895503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896719)

you don't need JSON to load an array and then to access array elements.


You don't need JSON to load an array. With JSON, you send the array. Of course that won't prove your programing ability to parse out the csv or DOM and "load" it all by yourself.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896750)

take a look. [mozdev.org] That's some of my code, there are strings there that load Array in one shot without any parsing. Refer to my earlier posts.

Thank you for your 'attention'.

I second that (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896494)

I too was doing this long ago. But if Amazon's one-click is new and innovative, AJAX must be too.

Re:not just a new fad (4, Interesting)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896245)

AJAX is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. AJAX itself is a fairly ugly hack, the real usefullness of which has been to highlight the INADEQUATE nature of the www in its present state.

This is the classic progression of technology. A tool is being used for something it was not meant to, while technically feasable it is distasteful. This technology will be refined until it becomes apparent that a new framework is needed.

I see the most likely scenario as ajax being replaced by something designed to do the job far easier which is basically: Networkable GUI's

Re:not just a new fad (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896328)

Networkable GUIs?

There would be two ways to do that: 1)have a program that can parse a standard formatting language, and have a server push a description of the interface out to you or 2)push out a custom program that does the user interface work. It is also possible to have a combination with a standard program that can imbed the custom program.

Wait... Isn't that how the web already functions? A standards compliant web browser parses the language (HTML) and presents a user interface (web page.) Programs can be specially installed on your computer for specific tasks (such as Google Earth) for interfacing with the data, or they can be imbedded into a standard web page via Flash, Java or other techniques.

We are at the point where you basically have that networkable GUI. Any changes made will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Unless you can think of another way for IO to work. It really doesn't matter if the processing is done on the server or on the desktop, as long as you can get the data from the server out to the user (or user data sent to the server to be later processed by requests from that user or another user.)

I suppose the only advance you could put on is the ability to transfer the current state of your running GUI to a different computer. I imagine this would be best accomplished through some crafty hacks of virtualization, as long as there is adequate bandwith between the devices and a common enough language to be able to pause the program and transfer all related information and states. I know this is being worked on at the server end so a running process can be transferred between servers if one shows signs of impending hardware failure or otherwise needs servicing or upgrades. From there it would seem to be next to trivial to transfer the running states of the user end, say between a desktop and laptop. I suppose this would also allow for saving of the entire running state to another computer. Cloning of a running program's state would also be theoretically possible, although you may run into race conditions and problems with data access locks. This would also open up a very large avenue for malware attacks of all kinds.

But you would still be basically dealing with a user needing information from a server being pushed to their display. Bandwith and security concerns aside, it really doesn't matter whether the whole database gets sent to the user's computer, whether the server just pulls out the necessary information and sends it raw for a program on the user's computer to process, or whether all processing is done server side and the desktop acts pretty much as a dumb x-term.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

trevdak (797540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896539)

Yes, HTML and browsers already use a standardized language, but there needs to be one further step. UI and behind the scenes computation are much more closely linked on computers than in Web interfaces. As a result, HTML is a standard language in browsers, but rarely anywhere else. That's why we see something like XAP [apache.org] popping up, an XML protocol that ties in UI, basic programming with macros, events, and server queries into one, allowing web applications to bridge that gap with as much ease as writing HTML. Additionally, XAP can be used with a client (check out demos at Nexaweb [nexaweb.com] (Nexaweb is Coach Wei's company), meaning we can get real applications running on multiple platforms and operating systems, including AJAX.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896499)

I see the most likely scenario as ajax being replaced by something designed to do the job far easier which is basically: Networkable GUI's.

It's already here, and called "Flash". Although I'm happy to write Javascript all day long, and have used it for games, windowing systems etc, I see a lot of the AJAX examples and wonder why the authors haven't just used Flash for the job. Admittedly if the app is embedding a lot of HTML content, then it makes sense to use AJAX, but for many other projects, it seems a bit of a strange choice.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

gr84b8 (235328) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896662)

I dunno, this sounds like you are trying to bring back 'client-server' as the future of web programming. I think you're saying that 'www' is inadequate because its built on a stateless protocol that forces us to build hacks (i.e. ajax) to have state - given that stateful client-server apps failed for numerous reasons I think it is a little shortighted to think that Ajax will lead us back to stateful protocols that would allow us not to 'hack' around stateless-ness.

Obviously we have been doing state over http for some time, and we have a million simple ways to do asynch requests over http - so the fact that ajax standardizes that communication is great, but its definitly not 'the tip of the iceberg'.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896411)

'AJAX' is networking support built in to javascript. Nothing new about it. Most scripting languages have had networking support for quite a while.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896435)

The ability to phone home, retreive data and update the page, without reload gives way to a whole range of new applications, not just the updated select boxes, rich internet applications and pimped sites. Essentially you can make anything you normally could with a custom client, limited by the mess that is javascript across browsers and your imagination. I myself have been exploring multi-user environments on web pages where the actions of one user has an effect on the pages of others (see sig). It's nonsense to say "AJAX is a fad" because it's an evolution of the browser that can't be turned back. Just like the gold fever that began a decade ago and ran for five years, where html, the web nor the internet went away. Many companies selling air, naming it "web 2.0" might go away, but that's another story.

Re:not just a new fad (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896469)

But that is simply not was http and web browsers are meant for. They are meant to have pages. If I want an application, I want an application, not a quasi-application web page running in a browser.

What's so special about AJAX? (1, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896116)

Nothing! The tech for it has been around forever, they just slapped a new name on it.

It IS nice to make web applications that can behave more like desktop applications.

Re:What's so special about AJAX? (5, Interesting)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896145)

Nothing! The tech for it has been around forever, they just slapped a new name on it.

To be fair, while Microsoft introduced the XMLHTTP object in 1999, other browsers didn't implement a similar interface until 2002 or later (2002 being the first implementation of XMLHttpRequest in Mozilla). So if your definition is of "forever" is "the last four years" then this has been aroud forever. (Note: I'm ignoring hidden iframe solutions that really have been around "forever", where "forever" is defined as "since rich web browsers have been around, such as IE4 and Netscape 4".)

I do agree that "AJAX" is just a flashy name for an already-existing technology, and any good web developer would've already been using the technology in appropriate places prior to the name change. However, "AJAX" does put a fancy name on the technology, and while it certainly can be overused it's not really a bad thing for the technique to get more publicity. "AJAX" as a fad will eventually die down just like "enterprise", "push", etc have in the past. The technology behind it won't, and will continue to be used where appropriate long after the Web 2.0 bubble has burst.

Re:What's so special about AJAX? (0, Offtopic)

polarian (904499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896210)

What is so interesting about the internet?

Nothing! The tech for it has been around forever (communication + electricity + silicon), they just slapped a new name on it.

What is sepecial about async. javascript based communication is the way it is being used, not the technology itself.

Both (1)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896120)

Which side would you agree with?"
Both is the missing option here.

Slashdotted? (4, Informative)

gigne (990887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896122)

It would appear to be slashdotted already.

They should have invested in some more bandwidth and better servers to cope with all that AJAX overhead.

The overhead of AJAX. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896372)

Most people (even administrators and web developers) don't realize the overhead associated with AJAX.

We were recently considering using a AJAX-based email front end for email on our internal network, and had a chance to evaluate it. What we found was quite startling. With our previous plain HTML web-based email interface, we'd push about 15 to 30 KB of data per page view on average, or sometimes slightly more if it was a longer email. With the AJAX-based system, however, we were seeing each "task" (ie. writing a new email, displaying an email, etc.) needing well over 150 KB of data transfers.

At first we thought this may have been a problem with the cache settings of the web browsers we tried. Not so! We even used the browser settings recommended by the vendor. Again, there was no decrease. From what we've seen, the massive bandwidth usage must be attributed to the overhead inherent with AJAX.

One of our tests included logging in, opening up certain messages in the inbox, sending two emails, opening up several more messages, and then logging out. We tried multiple trials using each email system. What we found was that for that particular session, the older pure HTML system would transfer about 350 KB of data. The AJAX system, on the other hand, used a whopping 1.8 MB for that very same session. That doesn't sound like much, but when the system would be used by about 4000 people at a time during the busiest periods each day, it just proves to be unworkable. The hardware investments we would have needed to make to make the AJAX-based system viable would have far outweighed the minor benefits of making the switch.

It's the latest fad (2, Insightful)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896126)

Computing power and responsibility has oscillated between the user's terminal and central servers for ages. With a user environment composed of unreliable, insecure software such as Windoze, it's really no surprise many users would rather that application data be held by the application maker. Application makers oblige by trying to take advantage of the most convenient platform universally available on user computers.

Unfortunately, that platform is the web browser, and attempting to run applications in it gives as AJAX, since Java failed to provide a suitable cross-platform environment. We could be running NeWS (NEtworked Window System by Sun, not the stuff you see on Slashdot), Flash, Java, or even remote-PC programs that transmit I/O across the network, now that sufficient compression is being developed. However, history overrides technology and gives us AJAX.

Re:It's the latest fad (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896198)

Flash is an awful development environment, albeit consistent compared to the Javascript issues between Mozilla, IE, and the others.
Java is slow and clunky, if you're talking about the applet form. It's alright to make stuff in, but the fact that it almost universally sits inside a browser window invalidates your point about not using browsers. NeWS and and remote-PC applications, those I can agree with you on. Except the former would, like Linux and Mac, only be adopted by a niche and create even more diversity/compatibility issues (delete as suits your personal views). That leaves just remote-PC applications... perhaps Microsoft have something in the pipeline? Sounds dangerously profitable to me. :-/

AJAX will have to do for the time being. Fad or otherwise, at least it works... I've yet to have a problem with Google Maps, or any similar web-app.

What ever happened to XUL? (5, Interesting)

pschmied (5648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896148)

It seems like XUL has/had so much potential to provide rich user interfaces via the web. Apart from Firefox extensions that may use bits of XUL, what are people doing with it? I remember an example of a XUL interface to Amazon.com that was quite impressive. I kept expecting web sites to start having XUL versions with very rich UIs. I seem to recall that Oracle was even interested in XUL for a while.

How is this on topic? Well, it seems like AJAX is delivering a lot of the rich UI stuff that XUL was supposed to, but in a slightly less elegant way (from my peripheral understanding of both technologies). Am I fundamentally misunderstanding something here, or is AJAX a popular but pale immitation of what XUL was supposed to be?

-Peter

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (5, Insightful)

Alfred, Lord Tennyso (975342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896170)

Ajax runs on IE; XUL doesn't. That's going to increase its "installed base" by an order of magnitude.

Ajax also lacks an installation step. As far as I can tell you always had to download and approve XUL code before it could run, and sometime requires you to reboot your browser.

Availability is always going to trump elegance when it comes to environments.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896193)

> Ajax runs on IE; XUL doesn't

XUL can run in an applet or use Java Web Start. Of course at that point, who would want to use XUL anyway when you could just use Swing?

Of course IE doesn't come with java either, though it can install it as an ActiveX control as easy as flash, and anyone who plays online web games probably already has it.
 

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (1)

pschmied (5648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896217)

I agree with your assessment about IE and availability, but I still would have thought there would be a few geek-focussed sites that might have cropped up with rich UIs in XUL. I mean there is a reasonably large Firefox install base now, and I'd have thought that for some sites, that would make writing the UI worthwhile. Maybe it's harder to write XUL than I think.

The only detail I'd nitpick is that the installation bit only affects certain classes of application. I'm not sure what makes an app require an installation and others not, but the Mozilla Amazon Browser [faser.net] seems quite slick and doesn't require installation (at least not in my Camino browser).

-Peter

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (2, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896359)

You didn't hear the answer the first time. Let me rephrase it differently. People no longer want brand-only stuff. They didn't like IE-only, they hated Netscape-only, and they abhor Firefox-only. It's not about being an open source browser, it's about FREEDOM to run a different browser than what the developer wants you to.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896367)

The other problem is that you don't always get to use the browser you want. Many businesses are still IE only, and if that is where people are accessing your site from, they are going to be a little unhappy that they aren't getting the full experience, because your website doesn't run on the #1 browser (based on install base) in the world. There's a lot of other places such as web cafes where people don't really have a choice of what software they are running Although I would hate to run a web cafe with windows software, you'd have to reimage the computers every night. It would probably just be easier to run a Linux Live CD. Anyway, I think that AJAX provides a lot of the functionality that XUL does, while still allowing it to run on all modern browsers. Even among the geek community there's a lot of people who refuse to run anything but Opera, or even swear by IE. Some people are just stuck in their old ways.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (1)

MattPat (852615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896478)

I agree with your reasoning, but because I'm an annoying nit-picker who needs a hobby (who also happens to extensively enjoy Googling)...

DXULi, a DHTML XUL interpreter for IE [wednus.com]

It also appears that XUL in IE and other applications on Windows is possible through the Mozilla ActiveX control [xulblog.de] . Will it catch on? Doubt it, if XUL catches on as a means for rich interfaces for remote applications, Microsoft will just write their own implementation before people start using the Mozilla control. Being the gracious company that it is, Microsoft will gladly embrace XUL, and maybe even extend its functionality out of the goodness of their heart.

Just my 2 cents.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896177)

you are correct. as for why XUL hasn't caught on... see, there's this thing called Internet Explorer. the company who makes it is exteremly paranoid and has a severe case of not-invented-here syndrome, so they don't support XUL.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896207)

Nobody uses XUL on the web for the same reasons nobody uses MS "HTML Applications". That's a good thing.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (4, Interesting)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896380)

XUL, if you are speaking of XUL proper, just isn't that useful to make it worth toasting 90% of your audience. XUL is basically just some more widgets than what you get in HTML, highly focused on writing a browser. Anything you see in Mozilla or Firefox is XUL, so you can see a lot of the extra widgets just by poking around in the "preferences" dialog or looking at the browser's basic interface (menus, location bar, etc).

Mind what I'm saying; I'm not saying real menus or a real tree widget isn't useful; I'm saying they haven't made it worth cutting out the IE chunk of your audience. I'd love to see the W3C standardize a tree widget into (X)HTML, but that seems unlikely right now.

The behavior of XUL is specified with Javascript, and that's indistinguishable from how conventional HTML pages already have the full power of Javascript.

So, the only part of the traditional XUL platform left is XBL, which A: doesn't appeal to your average "cowboy" coder anyhow because they can fully understand the costs of using XBL but can't see the benefits and B: Has basically missed the window where it could impact anything because it's been buggy as all hell for a long time, to the point where even if they fix it a lot of us wouldn't notice. Basically, it works for writing a browser but my experience [jerf.org] is that the minute you step outside of that domain, all hell breaks loose. Granted, that experience is from 2005, but it didn't materially differ from my experience in 2000 (no typo).

If you get down to the real causes, I think the basic problem with XUL/XBL etc. is that while it had promise in theory, it brought a lot of baggage into developing even simple applications (you need to understand XML, because XUL and XBL are based on it, plus you need to understand XUL and XBL itself, then you have to understand Javascript, DOM, and to really use XUL/XBL you also need RDF which is another can of worms entirely, and finally it was buggy and implemented just enough to write Mozilla in it and not much more), but it really doesn't offer a significant advantage over, well, much of anything else, really. Having tried to make XUL actually do something several times now, I'd rather develop in Visual Basic. Pre-dot-Net. And I say that as someone who really doesn't like Visual Basic. Basically, six+ years after starting to develop this stack and the advantages are still theoretical; the only existing apps, as near as I can tell, require full-time teams to fix up the Mozilla core in conjunction with the team actually writing the app, and that's just stupid when you've got so many great choices already available to you, from Visual Basic all the way to my preferred Python+wxWidgets (or PyGTK, or PyQt, or heck, even the Tk interface). By the time you get to the point where you are skilled enough programmer to master the stack of Mozilla technologies, you are aware of better choices.

Including just sucking it up and going pure HTML, which is what I ended up doing, writing my own XBL-esque technology to help me. And I've noticed a number of the Javascript libraries like Dojo share the same basic Widget design as my library, so even the majority of advantages of XBL are available in conventional HTML now with readily available open-source libraries, again, leaving what's left not worth it. (Especially if you count the XBL bugs.)

So, the basic problem with XUL, considered as a whole stack, is that the costs are staggering and the benefits very, very marginal. As a result, it's basically dead; there's never a case where XUL is a better solution than either pure HTML or a real app.

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (1)

pschmied (5648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896457)

Thank you for the thoughtful answer. I've not coded any XUL myself, so it is interesting to hear the perspective of others who have.

Can someone comment on if Mozilla is still pushing for XUL as a way of creating general purpose UIs for the web (maybe they never were?), or have they given up on that in favor of using it strictly for thick client apps such as Firefox?

-Peter

Re:What ever happened to XUL? (1)

kbahey (102895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896646)

Gmail happened.

Yes, the advent of Gmail, and Google Maps changed the landscape. It proved that using XmlHttpRequest and Javascript is a practical and cross browser way for rich applications.

XUL would have been better since the front end is not as "active" as Javascript.

There is something called XULRunner that is supposed to be a standalone application for XUL front ends, and not tied to a browser.

scalable eCommerce reach-around compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896154)

with AJAX your enterprise solutions become web 2.0 reach-around standards compliant!

AJAX is putting the D into DHTML (4, Interesting)

usrusr (654450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896164)

We have all been seeing DHTML being an incredible fad for so long time and without there ever being anything really dynamic to it.

Now that we finally see dynamic HTML happen (even if the name has changed), how could we not expect the hype about the real thing to at least match the past hype about the early attempts?

Sure the name is stupid, but who cares! We do need some good hype to get standardization of something like that xml request object done and a catchy name can only help.

I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (5, Informative)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896184)

AJAX is actually made up of a bunch of separate ideas from the last five years, each of them too small to penetrate the fog of internet... But the term AJAX just triggered all of these ideas as a group into a "Cognitive Avalanche" (to possibly coin a new term :-)
The ideas are as follows:
  1. Javascript, despite what people used to think, is actually quite powerful and well designed
  2. Google and their employees are super smart- Maybe if you look at their source code you can capture some of their magic
  3. Humans are kind of primitive- If you make your program do something flashy while fetching its data (as opposed to just freezing up the browser for a few seconds as a page loads) the humans think your software isn't as slow as it actually is.
  4. You know, browsers have this thing called DOM that allows for ultra-powerful tweaking of web pages
  5. Standard web forms are slower and more tedious than you think
  6. The web used to serve up documents- That is a bad idea: Serving up data would is a better idea
  7. In an ideal world, all the world's software/data/operatingsystems/etc would just live on the web

None of these ideas were really important enough to push through to the web developer consiousness and have just kind of quietly developing while no one was noticing- Then some dude calls this stuff AJAX and BAM! the web 2-dot-whatever avalanche begins in earnest.

Re:I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (4, Funny)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896250)

Don't worry guys, I did the legwork for you. Here's the secret message:

AJAX Javascript is actually quite powerful look at their source code make your program do something flashy isn't as slow as it actually is browsers have this thing called DOM Standard web forms web bad idea data quietly developing AJAX.

Re:I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896312)

Aw, that was a good one. I laughed and laughed. :)

Re:I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (5, Funny)

cperciva (102828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896327)

You missed the really secret message, which was hidden in the italics, not the boldface. Unfortunately the punctuation was lost, but here's the secret message (including punctuation):

Separate each of them, too. Small humans are kind of primitive; slower, tedious documents -- better idea. BAM!

I think he's conveying instructions on how to teach children: One-on-one teaching, using simple and straightforward teaching materials.

Re:I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896348)

Who knew Emeril had such interest in pedagogy?!

Re:I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896651)

Must be a manager because he added all those words that don't mean anything then...

Also happening gradually over the last few years.. (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896381)

Another thing that's been happening gradually to make excitement about this possible is the replacement/upgrade of web browsers.

Like many of the other people weighing in, I'd developed web pages with features basically amounting to AJAX years ago. The problem was, especially if you were developing a commercial website, is that there'd still be a decent-sized chunk of people using old-ass browsers that didn't support JavaScript (or who had turned it off.)

Most companies aren't willing to flip even 5-10% (or whatever) of their potential online customers the bird, so what you end up doing is either not creating something AJAX style, or essentially implementing it twice and switching between the two depending on what a user's setup will support.

I haven't seen numbers, but I'd bet there percentage of people using aforementioned old-ass web browsers is a lot lower now than five years ago. Probably, you could get away with having a site that only worked the AJAX way.

Re:I'd call it a Cognitive Avalanche (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896599)

6. The web used to serve up documents- That is a bad idea: Serving up data would is a better idea

Serving up documents is not a bad idea. Taking data that is not a document, mangling it into a document and serving it up is a bad idea. Round peg in square hole, and all that.

Not a fad (4, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896188)

AJAX is not a fad. People aren't using AJAX just because it's AJAX. It's not for buzzword-compliance, although it has become a buzzword. It's not for adding useless frills, although it can be used for useless frills. AJAX is a tool to enable web developers to build sites that are actually better for the user, in a very real way. Better functionality, better usability, overall a better user experience. Things that simply weren't possible to do before.

Slashdot's new comment system uses AJAX to make my Slashdot experience better. They're not done with it yet, but what they've got so far makes it easier to browse Slashdot. The link to read the rest of a very long truncated comment now loads the rest of the comment inline into the page, instead of reloading the entire page like it used to; I can read replies without opening the links in a new tab and switching back and forth like I used to, I can even change my thresholds without reloading. Sometimes I like to open several articles on my laptop and read them when I'm offline; that works better now. Next will be a more convenient way to moderate, and a better way to write replies.

Will AJAX go away? Sure, after a better technology comes along. But until then, AJAX is genuinely useful.

that box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896265)

How do you make that little popup box stay away? I keep trying to "help out" checking the new code, but that dang box will NOT stay away. X it out, a second later it pops back up. It covers a lot of the comment, and you can't drag it out of the way either.

Now I am on slashdot "low res" version when I use it, maybe that's the reason, but I can only take 60 second or so of it before I stop trying it out.

Re:that box (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896345)

There might be a problem with the lowres bar, but in the full version, it covers the left bar only and doesn't encroach upon the comment space.
Perhaps the centre top bar they used to use would be better for compressed screens, or even the first one which didn't even move with the page.

hi res (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896376)

yep, that's it. just switched to check it out. If you opt for low res, the box covers coments (badly, makes it very hard to use). In full bloat it only covers the left hand nav bar. It still won't go away if you click the x to close box though, it respawns rapidly.

Hopefully the code gods might see this comment subthread so it can be fixed.

Re:that box (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896614)

It reappears when you mouseover the comments (it's not a time delay). I'm not on the "low res" version; as someone else said it only covers up the left sidebar and doesn't really get in the way (originally it spanned across the top and was really horrible; this is much better). There's probably a bug with the "low res" version they haven't addressed yet.

I agree that having it reappear all the time is annoying. They should make it stay gone when you close it, then have an obvious way to show it again when you want (currently I know of no way to re-show it aside from hovering the mouse over a comment, which is bizarre behavior).

Anyway, other than that, the rest of the AJAX stuff is nice. :-)

Not a fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896281)

"Will AJAX go away? Sure, after a better technology comes along. But until then, AJAX is genuinely useful."

XMPP

Re:Not a fad (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896338)

>Slashdot's new comment system uses AJAX to make my Slashdot experience shittier.

Fixed to reflect the truth. The new comment system might be circlejerk omg! web 2.0 AJAX Ponies! compliant; but as a dialup user I find it a huge pain in the ass, though I think it would still suck even if I had better bandwidth (I read at -1, and I have to adjust the threshold for each thread? Fcuk that!).

I can't speak for anyone else, but the minute they eliminate the old comment system is the minute I'll probably abandon slashdot.

Re:Not a fad (1)

Starruler (874611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896605)

If you use the floating window on the left and set it so all comments are visible that carries through to each thread.

Re:Not a fad (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896637)

as a dialup user I find it a huge pain in the ass, though I think it would still suck even if I had better bandwidth

I can see how it would be annoying on dialup, because it loads all the comments on the page (truncating the really long ones) right away, thus making the whole page take much longer to load.

(I read at -1, and I have to adjust the threshold for each thread? Fcuk that!).

Wait a minute, what? You read at -1, does that mean you always see every comment in its entirity and just manually scroll past any you don't care about? That's perfectly fine, but it completely negates my previous criticism about making the page take longer to load, since you're loading all the comments anyway. And what's this about adjusting the threshold for each thread? You can change your default thresholds in your user preferences - that's what user preferences are there for!

Re:Not a fad (1)

mark_lybarger (199098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896356)

it's not a fad in the same way that the j2ee servlet container isn't / wasn't a fad.

but... the current tools for ajax lack the common patterns of solid software development systems. mvc for one. with a traditional mvc framework (struts, turbine, whatever) it's very easy to tie an html data item to a back end data store. it's even fairly simple to tie an entire page of data (view/model) to a backend object store (also known as rdbms) and have the "business logic" or controler handle the flow of the application. with ajax, afaik, the entire process of tieing a page of data to the backend store isn't standardized and there aren't good frameworks for handling this common pattern.

AJAX/Remote Scripting Hype (5, Insightful)

y5 (993724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896189)

The AJAX hype is like the DHTML craze all over again. IMO if you can't create a site using remote scripting without suppressing the urge to advertise to the world that you're doing so, chances are you're abusing the technology. Why should your user base care what the hell technology you're using? It should just work.

Re:AJAX/Remote Scripting Hype (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896248)

...if you can't create a site using remote scripting without suppressing the urge to advertise to the world that you're doing so, chances are you're abusing the technology. Why should your user base care what the hell technology you're using? It should just work.


Spot on. The coolest apps are those that *don't* waste the user's time by singing and dancing and shouting, "Look at me! I'm a cool app!"

Re:AJAX/Remote Scripting Hype (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896695)

Exactly! Notice that Slashdot's new comment system uses AJAX, but doesn't advertise itself as AJAX, it just says it's the new comment system. Some of Google's recent projects (Google Maps, GMail, etc.) don't advertise themselves as AJAX, they just work.

I hate AJAX.... (0, Flamebait)

sloths (909607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896190)

For the most part. Gmail does it well, but I can't stand Digg.com.

Re:I hate AJAX.... (1)

frazras (929931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896731)

Digg only sucks on IE, worse on IE7... dont tell me you still use IE *gasp* http://getfirefox.com/ [getfirefox.com] NOW!

Isn't it obvious? (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896213)

Dirty countertops everywhere are the number one cause.

Re:Isn't it obvious? (2, Funny)

dominique_cimafranca (978645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896219)

Of course! AJAX is also SOAP.

Stronger than dirt!!! (1)

absurdist (758409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896244)

God, I AM showing my age...

What's in a name? (4, Insightful)

dominique_cimafranca (978645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896214)

Never underestimate the power of a catchy name. AJAX's underlying technologies have been around for a while, but it wasn't until someone slapped the acronym onto it that it's really taken off. AJAX is easy to say and easy to remember, evokes a bit of mystery and jargon (one more conspiracy against the layman), and is named after a legendary Greek hero. What more could a marketing person want? The name is simply an inspired choice.

If it's a wildfire then, get me some matches, stat (5, Interesting)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896215)

I'll admit that the concepts behind AJAX excite the hell out of me. It's really something when you think about the fact that...it's really nothing new so much as, a theory that finally has some real practical applications and examples. Everyone I think has always known that...the worst thing about the web is the idea that you'll be in the middle of a process, like filling out a financial form, or managing a shopping cart of items, whatever and then be interrupted by a need to click a link. How many of us will be filling something out, not understand it, and see a Help link and for a brief second worry that when you click it, you won't get a nice friendly popup but get whisked away to some help page and have to start the whole damn thing over? (raises hand) That's the kind of ugliness that breaks things like webmail or shopping carts or financial forms. I can't tell you how many times I cussed a blue streak because I accidentally lost focus from the mail field in Hotmail, hit backspace meaning to erase a word and ended up back in the inbox where, thank you dynamic pages, pressing forward takes me to a new empty compose mail window.

Now obviously, that's the programmers fault...webmail should never throw anything away regardless of the user clicking Back and Forward on their browser. And I think that's the theory behind the AJAX effect. Really, back and forward are supposed to be the last things I'll ever hit. In fact, Google Maps I believe has to go through considerable kludges to even have entries show up in the Back and Forward browser list...and I can tell you there are plenty of times I wish I could go "Back" to my previous map location but instead, got taken back to the original empty Direction page I started at. So, if AJAX is done right...everything I ever need to click is right there. And that's what have been valuable since Windows was born. A poorly written web application/interface is like having to use Calc.exe Notepad.exe Paint.exe and CharMap.exe to make a document instead of WinWord.exe doing it all in one place.

In fact, I'm a little upset the whole stampede behind AJAX apparently caught so many developers and programmers napping. I've been hiring PHP/MySQL programmer for years now but, I start asking questions like... can't we have it so when someone clicks this header it just drops down a propigated list of choices instead of having to pop them up in a window or regenerate the page? And they stare at me like I'm asking for the moon or wanting an entire database of 400 items preloaded on the page before it renders. The guys with "AJAX" on their resume are...well they apparently know what that buzzword is worth and have their hands full writing the next Flicr or Digg or whatever.

And I'm one of them. I've had an idea for a web-based application but...because it involves just so darn much data, I've been having it developed as a template/macroset in Word because I can piggyback on the already present features like AutoText and Toolbars to provide an interface and packaged output. Now, I'm excited that I can have something just as dynamic and immediately accessible, but available on any platform and any location and without relying on software I don't control (I've already found two critical bugs in AutoText that Microsoft has admitted are bugs present since Word 2000, cannot be fixed by any option/registry setting, and will hopefully be fixed in the next version but possibly the one after that...oh gee thanks). So I want to start my own wildfire by creating something that would make a wonderful application, but have ability to distribute that application to thousands and tens of thousands of users as easily as sharing a link. That's amazing. That's why it's a wildfire. I just wish the store wasn't sold out of all the matches.

- JoeShmoe
.

"All-in-one" is the wrong way to do things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896336)

So, if AJAX is done right...everything I ever need to click is right there. And that's what have been valuable since Windows was born. A poorly written web application/interface is like having to use Calc.exe Notepad.exe Paint.exe and CharMap.exe to make a document instead of WinWord.exe doing it all in one place.

Long before Windows was "born", many of us were using UNIX or UNIX-like systems. And what we found was that it is often a very bad idea to have software that tries to do everything. Indeed, it has proven time and time again to be perhaps one of the worst ways to develop software. The end result always has certain traits, regardless of whether the all-in-one product is Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, Emacs, or Nescape Communicator: instability, security vulnerabilities, slowness, bloat, and low usability.

Systems like GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, System V, AIX, HP-UX, etc., follow the principle of small, versatile applications that do one task very, very well. It's a methodology that has been proven to work wonders. Small commands are better understood both by the developers and users. Bugs are easier to track down. Changes can be made far easier, and with a greater degree of safety. Overall, there is a high degree of cohesion within the applications, but between the applications there is a low degree of coupling. Through the use of pipes, their inputs and outputs can be linked in numerous ways, depending on the task to be performed. It's a strategy that focuses on simplicity and quality, and that's exactly what we end up with.

Functionality should be separated as much as is sensibly possible to do. It's best to have many smaller applications that each perform a function very well, rather than one big application that tries to do everything, but ends up doing basically everything very poorly. Best of all, if you don't like one of the components, you can swap it out with an alternative with ease. That's not something you can really do with Microsoft Word, for instance.

Any AJAX application that tries to do most everything has ended up being a piece of shit. I've tried several of the online AJAX-based email clients, and several of the AJAX-based office suites. None have proved any better than using well-tuned UNIX applications. Take GMail, for instance. Pine works just as well as GMail for sending and reading email. It's very easy and effective to use grep to search through my mail directory. And I don't have to worry about any 2 GB limit. Using ssh, I can access Pine from virtually any computer, without needing an AJAX-compatible browser (or even a windowing system!). The traditional UNIX way has again proven to be more efficient, effective and usable than the all-in-one crapfest preferred by yourself and Windows.

Re:If it's a wildfire then, get me some matches, s (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896456)

I've got one word for you: STFU.

WTF is AJAX? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896239)


It *must* be a big deal, since I haven't heard of it but a bunch of geek pansies sit around masterbating over it.

Deja Vu all over again (3, Insightful)

sotweed (118223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896271)

It seems to me that you have to separate out why Ajax is spreading among developers, and why Ajax-based applications are popular with users. These are not totally independent, of course, but worth thinking of in different ways.

I see Ajax-based applications as being very reminiscent of the what used to be called "full-duplex" applications. Unix, because it was based on using teletypes for I/O to the user, and because teletypes were inherently full-duplex, seemed much more interactive, at least with some applications. Nothing quite like Ajax, but a step in that direction. Conventional main-frame apps, based on either half-duplex (I type, then I hit carriage return, and the keyboard locks until the system responds) or electronic versions of that (such as with the famous 3270 displays, which would lose characters if you typed when the system wrote to the screen), were much more ... well, boring.

So, it seems to me that, from the user's viewpoint, Ajax can allow the app builder to effectively decouple user input and system output, and make the whole "flow" between system and user be much more continuous, and less synchronized. Another way of seeing this is thinking of an overseas phone call in the days of poor channel allocators, which really made it necessary to stop talking when the other person started, or neither of you would hear the other. Nothing at all like a really engaged, face-to-face, conversation.

Not a fad, not a revolution. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896284)

It's just the next step in rich user interfaces on web pages. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a fad, but not a revolution, either. Web 2.0 doesn't exist. It is a stupid idea thought up by marketing guys with nothing better to do. There will not be a sudden shift in the way everything is done. Instead, things will gradually improve over time. The technology behind AJAX is cool enough, but it does not warrant the immense bullshit marketing and exposure it gets.

coral cache version (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896286)

The linked to site seems dead. Here's a coral cache version: http://ajax.sys-con.com.nyud.net:8090/read/256389. htm [nyud.net] (posted anonymously to prevent karma whoring)

Google is Evil (4, Interesting)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896333)

This is on-topic, because this week Google ajaxified their home page a little, moving Groups to an web 2.0-ey submenu that takes me 1 extra click to get to, and replacing it with the ridiculous Video web-2.0 ey thing. I view these actions as evil, because they are more about making Google money and less about what I want to do - which is quickly search groups for answers to programming questions. (When you ask a programming question on the web page all it takes you to is one of 40 spyware/spamware awful wrappers around usenet anyway, and if you just click to groups you see the exact same text minus the horrible ads and popups).

Google drifts evil every once in a while, and then to their credit they drift back, but currently they are drifting evil.

Okay, so, it's a little off-topic, but since there was no thread about Google's big change this week I needed to vent. (They also switched dictionary.com to answers.com which is more spam-mey and popup-ey).

Re:Google is Evil (1)

abh (22332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896415)

Are you unable to bookmark the Google Groups search? If you're complaining it takes you too many clicks to get there, perhaps you should change your starting point...

Re:Google is Evil (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896436)

The way I use it to answer programming questions is usually to bop back and forth from web to groups refining the question. It's usually better to find it under web first, but if hits all come up as obvious usenet-wrapped spam pages (the worst is that experts exchange which hides part of the thread, AND fires off a popup), I zap to groups.

This is whats so special (4, Funny)

gooberguy25 (915147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896354)

"What's So Special About AJAX?"

The Calcuim carbonate, sodium carbonate, anionic surfactants, bleach, the quailty control agents, fragrance, and the color!

Here's what I think it is.. as a web app developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896365)

We've been writing apps with .Net since 1.0. C# is our preferred lang, but we strive for "Pure .Net". In the new VS from MS, I can deploy a Windows Forms app (desktop app) via a bundled technology called "ClickOnce" or something like that.

If your .Net binaries are pure .Net, there is a seamless deploy & install. Coupled with SOAP/RPC for your data layer and you've got something that blows the shit out of anything you can do in HTML.

We're going Windows.Forms w/ RPC/SOAP for the next big version of our app. Why constrain ourselves to the browser???

Personally... (1)

Traegorn (856071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896373)

Personally I just think that nothing could turn out to be radder than my personal webpage with a black background...

Javascript security will hurt it (1)

mycall (802802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896394)

With new Javascript exploits which detect internal network information, there could be a decreased use of Javascript at companies and enterprise networks. This could hurt AJAX.

Definite Need, HTML-centricism suuuucks! (3, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896419)

Whether AJAX will satisfy it or not, Web interfaces are clunky and weak. Retrofitting technology meant for e-brochures to be business GUI's instead has proven problematic. Everybody misses real GUI's, both developers and customers. Whether usable thin-client is possible or not, current efforts have failed such that people are becomming impatient with it and want features of fat/rich clients back. We want MDI forms, useable editable data grids, drag-and-drop, form tabs, etc.

If we have to rely on JavaScript tricks to get it, then that is fine by me. There may be better ways if we start from scratch, but it takes years to mature such technologies, and JavaScript/DOM is already in every browser.

I don't like fads either (look how I bash OOP, see sig), but this one at least tries to satisfy a big existing need instead of try to sell you on a problem you didn't know you had.
       

Business apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15896424)

Basically there's a whole host of business applications that keep there data centrally and would've previously required difficult to code, debug, deploy and support multiplatform standalone applications to realize. Doing these things using something like the Google Web Kit to produce AJAX web apps is a way more cost effective option, and anything that can be used to save money will generate a buzz.

Arg, they have no idea (3, Informative)

rickla (641376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896514)

It's pretty simple, the two dominant browsers now are no longer broken and can actually do this! I remember trying to make nice tabbed pages, and all kinds of other widgets without using applets or activex. But alas ie and netscape differed a hell of a lot and netscape was extremely broken in many areas of this kind of rendering. Now ie and firefox are the top dogs and they both work.

I call it the tail wagging the dog (4, Interesting)

serutan (259622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896598)

I remember finding out about the XmlHttpRequest object in 1999 and thinking this was how Microsoft was going to take over the web. Web pages would become little client-server apps. State maintenance headaches between pages would go away. Instead of a web app being a suite of pages to navigate, a single page would just sit there and make data requests and update parts of itself. I happily started coding XmlHttpRequest in my own job and waited for the revolution to happen. But it never did. For three years Microsoft had the lead with this really cool capability, and they did absolutely nothing to hype it or encourage it. It only rated a few pages in MSDN. Right before IE6 was introduced I remember asking a manager on the IE team what kind of new features to expect. He said it wouldn't be anything much, because Netscape was pretty much dead and therefore there was not much point in putting any dev effort into IE anymore.

Three years later when Mozilla started supporting off-channel requests they did it in native mode, while Microsoft was still using an ActiveX object. MS had all that time to set a new standard for dynamic web pages and they just sat on it. Finally, somebody comes along and invents a buzzword for it and somehow gets it in everybody's face. A few people write packages to make it a little easier. Now Microsoft is playing catch-up with their own version called Atlas. At least that's a cooler name, but jeez. AJAX is a case of Microsoft dropping their own ball and then showing up late to join the game.

Ajax SOAP no help. (1)

sparkeyjames (264526) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896608)

When you have clogged pipes you need something a wee bit stronger.
Say like a fat pipe and a SERVER THAT CAN HANDLE IT. HINT.
Someone up this months server meltdown count by one please.

The evolution of web fads... (2, Insightful)

hutchike (837402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15896620)

Question: What do all the following web fads share:
  1. The <marque> tag in IE
  2. The animated GIF89
  3. The <iframe>
  4. Flash animation
  5. The HTTP XML Request/Response in JavaScript
Answer: When people first used them, they way over-used them, but then they just kinda sank into the mix. In time they all became useful, but in small doses. AJAX is no different. For a great example, see finance.google.com [google.com] .
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