AJAX: A New Approach to Web Applications
BY: Jesse James Garrett, Adaptive Path
February 18, 2005
If anything about current interaction design can be called “glamorous,” it’s creating
Web applications. After all, when was the last time you heard someone rave about
the interaction design of a product that wasn’t on the Web? (Okay, besides the iPod.)
All the cool, innovative new projects are online.
Despite this, Web interaction designers can’t help but feel a little envious of our
colleagues who create desktop software. Desktop applications have a richness and
responsiveness that has seemed out of reach on the Web. The same simplicity that
enabled the Web’s rapid proliferation also creates a gap between the experiences we
can provide and the experiences users can get from a desktop application.
That gap is closing. Take a look at Google Suggest. Watch the way the suggested
terms update as you type, almost instantly. Now look at Google Maps. Zoom in. Use
your cursor to grab the map and scroll around a bit. Again, everything happens
almost instantly, with no waiting for pages to reload.
Google Suggest and Google Maps are two examples of a new approach to web
applications that we at Adaptive Path have been calling Ajax. The name is shorthand
possible on the Web.
Ajax isn’t a technology. It’s really several technologies, each flourishing in its own
right, coming together in powerful new ways. Ajax incorporates:
standards-based presentation using XHTML and CSS;
dynamic display and interaction using the Document Object Model;
data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT;
asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest;
© Spider Strategies 2006
Licensed under a Creative Commons License
The classic web application model works like this: Most user actions in the interface
trigger an HTTP request back to a web ser