I decided to write about Ajax because so many people donâ€™t know anything about it. Most of them never heard about it. At least thatâ€™s what I find when asking my colleagues and friends in Kuwait University even computer engineering students. The buzzword â€œAjaxâ€ seems to be a strange word around our community. I wonder if even â€œWeb 2.0â€ or â€œMash-upâ€ is known among computer engineering students here?
If you have been one of the users of the internet for many years, you have noticed the tremendous improvement in web experience. From static ugly looking web pages to fully dynamic web pages with rich user experience and social contribution wikis. From a fully static text web pages to highly user friendly drag and drop web applications.
What is Ajax?
â€¢ Less Resource Consumption
The main advantage of Ajax is less resource consumption on the server side. Thatâ€™s right; you donâ€™t have to load the whole page every time a user clicks on a link. Letâ€™s take Gmail for instance, when you click on one of the links on the menu, it does not reload the whole page. Only part of the page will be reloaded. Thatâ€™s called â€œCall on demandâ€, and it means it only loads what needs to be changed on the webpage. Thatâ€™s how Google saves bandwidth, by sending less data to users when navigating, and also saves CPU, RAM, and many other resources. Therefore, Google will pay less for providing its email service to users which means that Google will economically gain more profit with their system.
â€¢ Faster Browsing
Browsing the website is much faster and less tedious since you are loading only part of the page that is needed to be loaded rather than loading the whole page. It is a big advantage for companies that rely on users to browse their websites to boom their business. The faster the website is loading, the more the user will be comfortable browsing it.
â€¢ A Web 2.0 Standard
Ajax is a web 2.0 key component which was defined by Oâ€™Reilly. Using it is a big plus. Many companies hire web designers just because they are familiar with web 2.0 standards like Facebook and Flicker. After all, web 2.0 is business hype.
Ajax developers get paid more than non-Ajax developers. Few days ago from the time I write this article, a principal USA Department of Defense agency was looking for Ajax developer, offering salary of $200K a year with no taxes. Thatâ€™s around $16,500 (5000 K.D) a month.
â€¢ Cross Browser and Cross Platform
Ajax works on all servers, even the simplest one. All you need is a server that can show/run html web pages. Ajax can work on your local computer by just opening the webpage file!
Ajax also works with many browsers despite of some inconsistency among popular browsers because Ajax is based on open standards.
â€¢ Competes Flash/Flex
I really love Flash ever since Flash 4. But I have to admit it, Ajax in many situations, is much better. Can flash run without plug-in? Hell no! And Ajax in many cases produces a smaller size files than Flash and sometimes runs faster than Flash.
â€¢ Compatible with many programming languages
At the same time, there are number of disadvantage to Ajax. One is that Ajax is based on open standards. That means browsers can freely change how XMLHttpRequest works. But that can be easily overcome by a method commonly used by developers. Some consider open standards as an advantage because it is supported by many browsers and there is no vendor lock-in or monopolizing.
Another disadvantage is the integration with the browser; the common â€˜backâ€™ button problem with Ajax and bookmark problem. Making XHR request does not modify the history stack of your browser. Therefore, the â€˜backâ€™ button will have some issue and bookmarking the page will not work properly.
(1) by Jesse James Garrett of web design firm Adaptive Path
Foundations of Ajax, by Ryan Asleson and Nathaniel T. Schutta. Apress.
Ajax in Action, by DAVE CRANE and ERIC PASCARELLO. Manning.
Ajax for Web Application Developers , By Kris Hadlock. Sams.
Ajax for Dummies, by Steve Holzner. Wiley.