[FoRK] Why AJAX?

Ken Meltsner meltsner
Tue Oct 11 07:54:53 PDT 2005

AJAX isn't anything earth-shattering.  It can't be, because we've had
this sort of capability in our portal product for several years
(depending on whether you count iframes).

XMLHTTPRequest is somewhat novel since it decouples browser requests
from user visible actions.  IE 7 will move XHR out of the ActiveX
world so you'll be able to turn off ActiveX and still use AJAX-style

What's changed, however, in the last few years:

*  Growing appreciation of the need for limited window updates

*  Clever graphics designers using Javascript and CSS along with AJAX
-- eye candy + functionality

*  Sort of cross-platform standardization

*  Various MS security changes that make it much harder to create a
composite page with IFRAMEs sourced from different domains.

*  Growing appreciation that back/forward buttons  need to work
"properly," which tends to be more difficult when IFRAMEs are

There are some new challenges, of course:

*  AJAX as cross-site attack

*  Various privacy/security issues, including cookies

*  Microsoft's incredibly badly defined "object caching" restrictions
that tend to break pre-XPSP2 web pages randomly.

I think AJAX isn't new, per se, but that actual application of this
family of techniques has expanded significantly.  Quibbling over
novelty, while of interest to patent lawyers and old-time nerds like
me, is a waste of time for most people.


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