A Hype-Free Introduction to Ajax

CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: You've probably heard all the Ajax hype by now, as well as seen the many products that claim Ajax support or "compliance." However, you probably haven't seen a good, simple technical explanation of what Ajax really "is." In this paper, you'll get an overview of the core fundamentals of what makes Ajax possible without all the usual product-pushing hype.


First of All, is Ajax New?

Not really. Remote Javascript, of which Ajax is one example and which has garnered the most attention as of late, provides the ability to interact with a server using XML data.

Ajax is possible because of the leading browsers now offering objects that can make independent XML HTTP requests. Internet Explorer 5 and later offer an XMLHTTP object while Mozilla based browsers provide an XMLHttpRequest object. Both these objects offer essentially the same ability to request XML data from a server and process the data in a similar fashion. The server-side Ajax component can be in any technology providing XML can be delivered dynamically. Any dynamic Web technology ranging from PHP to servlets can serve as an Ajax server.


One of the drawbacks to Remote Javascript and Ajax is that it forces the page author (the person designing the final page) to develop a fair amount of Javascript code that manages the XMLHTTP interactions. Fortunately, JavaServer Faces (JSF) provides a solution here and makes Ajax very easy to use.

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