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Ajax Introduction

Ajax Introduction



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Published by: api-25930603 on Oct 16, 2008
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What is Ajax - Asynchronous JavaScript
and XML

This section explains you the Ajax. You will learn the basics of Ajax. Ajax is of the most important technologies for the development of highly interactive web application and due to its features it has become extremely popular these days.

What is Ajax?

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML or Ajax for short is new web development technique used for the development of most interactive website. Ajax helps you in making your web application more interactive by retrieving small amount of data from web server and then showing it on your application. You can do all these things without refreshing your page.

Usually in all the web applications, the user enters the data into the form and then clicks
on the submit button to submit the request to the server. Server processes the request and
returns the view in new page (by reloading the whole page). This process is inefficient,
time consuming, and a little frustrating for you user if the only the small amount of data
exchange is required. For example in a user registration form, this can be frustrating thing
for the user, as whole page is reloaded only to check the availability of the user name.
Ajax will help in making your application more interactive. With the help of Ajax you
can tune your application to check the availability of the user name without refreshing the
whole page.

Understanding the technology behind Ajax
Ajax is not a single technology, but it is a combination of many technologies. These
technologies are supported by modern web browsers. Following are techniques used in
the Ajax applications.

JavaScript is used to make a request to the web server. Once the response is
returned by the web server, more JavaScript can be used to update the current
page. DHTML and CSS are used to show the output to the user. JavaScript is used
very heavily to provide the dynamic behavior to the application.

Asynchronous Call to the Server:

Most of the Ajax application used the XMLHttpRequest object to send the request
to the web server. These calls are Asynchronous and there is no need to wait for
the response to come back. User can do the normal work without any problem.

XML may be used to receive the data returned from the web server. JavaScript
can be used to process the XML data returned from the web server easily.
How Ajax Works?

When user first visits the page, the Ajax engine is initialized and loaded. From that point
of time user interacts with Ajax engine to interact with the web server. The Ajax engine
operates asynchronously while sending the request to the server and receiving the
response from server. Ajax life cycle within the web browser can be divided into
following stages:

User Visit to the page:User visits the URL by typing URL in browser or
clicking a link from some other page.
Initialization of Ajax engine:

When the page is initially loaded, the Ajax engine is also initialized. The Ajax
engine can also be set to continuously refresh the page content without refreshing
the whole page.

Event Processing Loop:

* Browser event may instruct the Ajax engine to send request to server and
receive the response data
* Server response - Ajax engine receives the response from the server. Then it
calls the JavaScript call back functions
* Browser (View) update - JavaScript request call back functions is used to update
the browser. DHTML and css is used to update the browser display.

Benefits of Ajax
Ajax is new very promising technology, which has become extremely popular these days.
Here are the benefits of using Ajax:
Ajax can be used for creating rich, web-based applications that look and works
like a desktop application
Ajax is easy to learn. Ajax is based on JavaScript and existing technologies like
XML, CSS, and DHTML. Etc. So, its very easy to learn Ajax
Ajax can be used to develop web applications that can update the page data
continuously without refreshing the whole page

The Role of AJAX in enhancing the user
experience on the Web ( Sagar G Arlekar
- June 2006)

AJAX is not a new technology but a combination of several existing technologies in a
new way. These include HTML, CSS, DOM, XML, XSLT, XMLHttpRequest and
JavaScript. The acronym AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is
based on open standards supported by many browsers and platforms. AJAX is a new
paradigm for building web application.

AJAX applications eliminate the start-stop-start-stop nature of traditional web pages
hence allow web application to look and behave like the desktop ones, of course to a
limited extent. AJAX allows pages to request small bits of information from the server
instead of entire pages. This incremental updating of pages eliminates the page refresh
problem and slow response that have plagued Web applications since their inception.

AJAX has received tremendous industry recognition and support. The major software
giants and web portals have adopted it. A large number of AJAX toolkits and libraries are
available for free. AJAX does have its limitation but most of them can be overcome by
integrating AJAX with other technologies whenever required.

AJAX is here to change the user experience on desktop as well as on mobile devices.
Rich Internet Applications

According to Wikipedia Rich Internet Applications (RIA) are web applications that have
the features and functionality of traditional desktop applications. RIA's transfer the
processing necessary for the user interface to the web client but keep the bulk of the
data back on the application server.

Traditional web applications centered all activity around a client-server architecture with
all processing done on the server, and the client only displaying static content. The
biggest drawback with this system is that all interaction must pass through the server,
which requires data to be sent to the server, the server to respond, and the page to be
reloaded on the client with the response. Most traditional web applications have clumsier
and difficult to use interfaces compared to desktop ones. The primary difference between
a RIA and traditional web applications is the amount and quality of interaction between
the user and the interface. An RIA can use a wider range of controls to improve users\u2019
interaction allowing efficient interactions, better error management, feedback and overall
user experience. Another benefit of RIAs is that data can be cached in the client, allowing
a vastly more responsive user interface and fewer round trips to the server.

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