There are several candidates striving for mindshare in the rich internet application development environment. One approach goes by the acronym AJAX, and the leading proponent of that approach is Google, which uses AJAX in its Mail, Maps and Suggest products. (For those who have not experienced the phenomenal performance of Google Suggest, perhaps they should google “Google Suggest” and try it.)
- Presentation is done in the browser using HTML and CSS in frames.
- Data interchange is done asynchronously with XMLHTTPRequest object.
The main and perhaps only advantage of AJAX is the richer client experience that can be supported. The user is no longer constrained by the pedestrian pace of a page-based interaction model. They can drag-n-drop, sort columns and resize widgets just like in a real desktop app.
The disadvantages are numerous. It is more complex to program and it is very easy to get bogged down in cross-browser incompatibility issues. The development and debugging tools are somewhat fragmentary. The search engines find it hard to navigate which is quite ironic given the heavy investment by Google into developing AJAX techniques.
Reynolds is an Auckland developer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org