[thelist] AJAX Tip

Ian Anderson ian at zstudio.co.uk
Wed Apr 5 16:42:06 CDT 2006

John Dowdell wrote:

> People mean both things by this term these days.

It's easy to understand why people get this mixed up. The whole point is 
that you often can't see true AJAX working. It's the opposite of sexy.

-- geek to manager: "Wow, look, did you see that? The page didn't reload!"

-- manager: "Mmmm. Great!" (shuffles towards exit)

Coupled with the fact that as in the case of draggable sort order 
widgets or Google maps, the AJAX part is usually physically - and very 
visually - associated with cool UI tricks that are based on prototype.js 
and similar DHTML effects.

Try showing your business types the draggable widgets which may 
incidentally talk to the server asynchronously, and boy are they all 
over you like a cheap suit. "When can we have this? We need slidey 
things. Now."

I agree with Christian and others that we should not confuse ourselves 
and others even more by calling things AJAX which are not, though.

What's needed is a sexy, Web 2.0 sort of name for the DHTML UI tricks - 
I think these are actually really important going forward from here. The 
real appeal of the new applications comes from the general leap in 
usability they offer, which is partly due to the finer-grained 
communication delivered by AJAX (or Flash) asynchronous server calls 
without page refresh, and partly to the more intuitive, natural UI 
conventions that are now reliable, mainstream, cross-browser techniques.

Yes, the latter are formally DHTML, but you don't want to be talking 
about DHTML in this millennium. The term carries too much derogatory 
baggage, in my opinion.

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