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What is AJAX?

Posted at Feb 1, 2007 9:00:25 AM by Michelle Sternbauer | Share

Wikipedia's Definition:

Ajax, shorthand for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is a web development technique for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user requests a change. This is meant to increase the web page's interactivity, speed, and usability.

The Ajax technique uses a combination of:

  • XHTML (or HTML) and CSS, for marking up and styling information.
  • The DOM accessed with a client-side scripting language, especially ECMAScript implementations such as JavaScript and JScript, to dynamically display and interact with the information presented.
  • The XMLHttpRequest object is used to exchange data asynchronously with the web server. In some Ajax frameworks and in certain situations, an IFrame object is used instead of the XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data with the web server, and in other implementations, dynamically added "script" tags may be used.
  • XML is sometimes used as the format for transferring data between the server and client, although any format will work, including preformatted HTML, plain text, JSON and even EBML. These files may be created dynamically by some form of server-side scripting.

Now, what does that mean in laymans terms?

Well, let me give you a brief history first. Most people believe that AJAX is a relatively new technology. However, remote scripting was developed over a decade earlier by Microsoft. While the term "AJAX" was arrived at in 2005, it ancestory has been around for quite some time now.

AJAX was developed mainly to improve the overall user experience. Nothing is worse that having a fast internet connection and still waiting for page after page after page on a site to load while it exchanges information with the server. With AJAX a user can land on a web page and in seconds, be off and running, while a majority of the data is still loading behind the scenes. Pages do not need to be reloaded each time information is submitted.

For example...

Have you ever tried to book a hotel room and before you could even pull data back for your travel dates, the browser window timed out because the page took so long to load. Well, if that booking engine was created using AJAX technology, while you insert your travel critieria the page is automatically loading all room type information in the background. So as soon as you hit that submit button, you will have your desired information almost instantaneously.

We did just that when THAT Agency utilized AJAX to build Sol Melia a custom booking engine that would communicate with an existing XML that all room data was loaded into. Check out the results...http://booking.paradisuspalmareal.com.

Tags: Web Development

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