Using Ajax for Web Application Development: What Businesses Need to Know

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  1. Introduction
  2. Pros and Cons

Introduction

Lately, you may have been hearing more and more about Ajax and begun to wonder how it could be beneficial to your business's web application development projects. First, it is important to start with an understanding of this type of web programming. While the concept is not new - it has existed since 1998 - the term did not come into being until February 2005, when Jesse James Garrett coined it as a way to shorten the combination of three technologies that he was going to be using for web application development: Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. This recent phrasing may partially explain why Ajax programming has become such a hot concept for businesses to explore.

Today, Ajax is being used in web application development by many major players on the web, including Google, which pioneered its use in a mainstream manner with its Google Maps service, as well as many web-based email systems. This is as a direct result of the updating of computer technology in general - today's average computer user has a faster network connection, a faster machine, and a higher level of computer knowledge than those that used computers ten years ago, opening the door for more complex technologies to be used by a wider array of websites. On the other hand, web programming using Ajax is not necessary for a site to be successful; sites such as Amazon and eBay, which are clearly doing well in the business arena, are either not using this form of web programming at all or are using it sparingly.

Still, web programming with Ajax has quickly been incorporated into web application development as a new style.

The Basics of Web Programming with Ajax

At its core, Ajax web programming enables a web application development team to create a site that allows users to perform certain functions without the need for redrawing or reloading an entire screen. For example, Google Maps allows users to scroll through a map seamlessly - a technique so revolutionary that it was later adopted by other map sites such as MapQuest and Yahoo Maps. Web-based Email programs using Ajax web programming allow users to open a message without reloading their entire interface. Sites that allow voting or rating, such as Netflix and YouTube, let users click on an array of stars to rate a film or video without ever leaving the initial screen. And even shopping sites such as Gap.com use Ajax programming to give users the feel of a true virtual shopping cart - users place items into their cart without leaving the product page.

In addition, web programming with Ajax can be used to create what are known as "mashups" - situations where content from two different web applications can be combined into a third, newly useful application. For example, the apartment listings from Craigslist were crossed with Google Maps to create a site that allows users to see apartment locations on the map.

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About the author

Francis Wong United States

Francis Wong is an independent consultant and senior technical trainer for WestLake Training and Development. He has developed software applications...

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