[FoRK] mod_pubsub way ahead of its time: Comet solves Ajax-envy

Damien Morton < fork at bitfurnace.com > on > Wed Mar 8 19:07:25 PST 2006

> XMLHTTP is almost completely irrelevant.  It was only important in that 
> users had a gee-whiz payoff from the accomplishments of the client-side 
> hackers.  Those accomplishments came from somewhere else -- bringing the 
> discipline of FOSS development over from Gnu/Linux to apps hosted in the 
> browser.

A grand claim. In fact, in my case, it came from my experiences with the 
capabilities of Macromedia Flash, and a general 'rich-client' 
development mentality that was irked at the inefficient page-at-a-time 
nature of the web. At that time, the only UNIX/FOSS exposure I had was 
having to use UNIX at college, and a liking for Python.

> In effect the browser hosted running environment was just another fucked 
> up flavor of unix to wrapper and turn into something orderly, albeit one 
> without POSIX.

Ahem. Bullshit. This has nothing to do with unix, and everything to do 
with subverting the W3C page-at-a-time model of the user experience, 
transforming it into a rich-client model (which has traditionally been 
the domain of Microsoft).

Probably the first major application I ever saw using this technique was 
the MSDN website, which dynamically loaded parts of a treeview in the 
navigation pane, and used javascript to filter out certain code examples 
in the main page. That was back in 1999, maybe even earlier.

I think you're really reaching to make AJAX (I hate that term) a 
UNIX/FOSS thing. Certainly, it gives the UNIX/FOSS community a way to 
present cobbled-together rich-client applications to predominantly 
windows users, but its going to be extremely hard to beat a 
purpose-built rich-client browsing environment (such as the one Microsft 
is currently prepping in the form of XAML, whose dominance is far from 
assured, but whose capabilities far outstrip HTML with or without AJAX).

On the subject of subverting the W3C page-at-a-time model, I think the 
AJAX community is going to hit the same problems that the Flash 
community has been striking for years; incompatibility with search 
engines and an anti-functional or inconsistent back-button model. For 
some reason, people just love their back-button, but its almost 
impossible to come up with a consistent meaning for it in a rich-client 

> On Thu, 9 Mar 2006, Damien Morton wrote:
>> Well, yes all of those and more. Dynamically loaded scripts were also 
>> used, as were dynamically loaded data in the style of JSON.
>>> I think the magic ingredient was the IE ActiveX component (XMLHTTP),
>>> which was then (re)implemented in Mozilla/Firefox.  Before that, you
>>> had to use stone knives, bear skins, and hidden IFRAMEs.
>>> Ken

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