Sunday, June 26, 2005

What is Ajax, and Does it Matter?

For the last few months, I have been seeing a lot of different articles on the Internet about a technology called 'Ajax'. No, its not the stuff you use for cleaning your toilets. Ajax is a set of technologies that are being used together. The word Ajax is an acronym for 'Advanced Javascript And XML' or 'Asynchronous JavaScripting and XML'.

Ajax is composed of the following web technologies:
  • HTML + CSS: displays the information in the browser.
  • JavaScript: dynamically displays content, and allows the user to interact with it.
  • XML + XSLT: Using the browsers XMLHttpRequest function data can be requested, sent, or changed on the Web server.
If you're not a Web application developer, most of these words and acronyms may not mean anything to you. Although, if you're like me, to understand a complex technology you need to see a good working example of it to really understand its full potential. Check out Google Maps. Search for a location, zoom-in on it, then click-and-drag on the map to see other parts of the map that are off the screen. The technology behind this marvel, is Ajax.

Now the question, does Ajax really matter? If you're a web developer, the answer is yes it does. If you're just a web surfer, the answer is still yes.

Ajax allows for the creation of interactive web applications that were not possible before without the use of some external plug-in technology like Flash, Java, etc. If you're just a web surfer, it means that you will be able to use feature rich applications without the use of external browser plug-ins.

To learn more about Ajax, check out a site called 'Ajax Matters'. This web site is one of the primary reference places for this technology.
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