AJAX and alternatives, was: Re: [FoRK] AJAX: Asynchronous JavaScript + XML

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed Mar 30 15:03:39 PST 2005

On the other hand, I don't think you can do the level of multimedia 
graphics and processing that this can:


Check out the BitTorrent simulation:

I just found this and am impressed by it for a couple reasons.  
Hopefully they will open source it smoothly.

Among lightweight browser/thin client options, here is what I am 
interested in:

AJAX - when I want most compatibility, very lightweight usability, and 
can live with Javascript
Flash - for multimedia presentations and some kinds of applications 
(including chat probably)
Java applets/Processing/XUL-like - for arbitrary programmable 
communication visualization applications, high-security apps
XForms and/or XUL et al XML-based HTML+ - for high-function, 
high-security, long-lived maintenance

It is very interesting how the XForms, XUL, XAML, and 
HTML+forms+scripting styles are evolving and competing.  The W3C 
presentation of XForms at the Plenary in Feb. was very impressive but I 
understand that the browser vendors (Mozilla, Opera, et al) are 
balking.  MS seems to be preparing for XAML-as-browser-replacement, 
which would be great for a Firefox/XUL/Java/OSS solution but scary from 
The untrustable Monopolist bad-boy of the IT world.

I'm too distracted by binary XML (we just approved our last doc in the 
W3C working group today!!), Semantic Web, Grid+P2P, and my research work 
on binary XML and "multiphasic knowledge representation" to get into the 
XForms et all fray (yet).


Ken Meltsner wrote:

>AJAX uses IE's XMLHTTPRequest object (or its equivalent in Firefox,
>etc.) to perform synchronous or asynchronous HTTP GETs or POSTs.
>IIRC, KnowNow/modpubsub uses an older trick to keep an HTTP request
>open for additional data.  Other tricks include the use of an
>invisible frame or iframe to retrieve content without the user
>Two things have changed to make AJAX feasible in relatively recent times:
>*  IE 6 has become quite common, and it includes the XMLHTTPRequest
>object by default -- older versions of IE would only have it if the MS
>XML parser DLL had been installed.
>*  The non-IE browsers picked a syntax and made sure that they had a
>comparable object available as well.
>There have been other changes that have benefited AJAX-style interfaces:
>*  Java applets became viewed as a hellish mess of incompatibilities
>and bloat rather than the solution for all user/server interaction
>*  Javascript has become much more stable (and I believe, faster).
>*  A number of kickass Javascript coders have made compelling use of
>the AJAX style.
>So, it's been the usual situation:
>*  Availability of an acceptable least-common denominator capability
>*  Alternatives are perceived as being quicksand traps
>*  Applications actually work better with the new capability than without
>AJAX and XHR have been used for several years, in fact, but it took
>GMail and similar apps to get people to notice that there was
>something novel about it.
>FoRK mailing list

swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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