What is AJAX? Why do your internal customers want it?
- No Comments
- September 2nd, 2008
AJAX is a series of interrelated technologies that power the so-called Web 2.0:
- Asynchronous communications with the web server
What Do These Buzzwords Mean?
Asynchronous refers to the method in which the web browser communicates with the server. Rather than rely upon the actions of the user – “click,” then send data to server, then wait for the server to send a response back, then refresh the screen – the AJAX “engine” manages the process in the background. You can think of it as a geeky conductor orchestrating the multiple technical instruments of web applications.
XML (eXtended Markup Language) refers to a set of open standards principally for data management on the internet. It is considered “extensible” because it allows developers to establish and define their own elements; for example “this piece of data is an address” or “this data is geocoding” which is in part how Google Maps can look up an address and display it on a map.
Sites You Like Already Use AJAX
The sites you use daily already use AJAX. For example,
- Google Maps – loading and updating maps in the background while you search for locales of interest
- Yahoo’s Flickr – the photo sharing application
- Netflix – AJAX makes it possible for you to reorder you rental queue by dragging and dropping
- 37 Signal’s “Basecamp” project management app (which we recommend highly)
Why You Might Want It If You’re Tasked With Building A Site
If you run an I.T. project charged with invigorating a customer-facing web portal, someone will at some point say “hey, why don’t we use AJAX and make this thing sexy?” It’s a great question. Maybe you should. But remember that this technology can be expensive and add time to the development cycle. The art of looking “easy” doesn’t always come cheap.
Buzzword Status Score
- Hype: Dying down. It powers so much of the web today it is considered a given
- Value: Real
- Time frame: Now.
- ROI: high for sites requiring sleek interact with any back end data
- Caution: It’s harder than it looks. Don’t “tack it on” to a site. Specify your desire to incorporate it into your RFP and listen to what your vendors tell you.