AJAX and Web 2.0 development


Before AJAX in ~2005, web designers were not able to come anywhere near the user experience that a native Win32 application such as those written in Delphi (Microsoft no longer provides native Win32 application development software, only .NET development) could provide.

AJAX is a combination of technologies which work together to provide  a much more responsive and rich user experience in web applications than ever before using asynchronous server communication. Although AJAX is still not as responsive nor rich as a native Win32 app, but at least it will run on most platforms including Apple iPhone and iPad, and it is NOT dependent on any .NET technology or Flash technology (which will not run on Apple iPad browsers).

Examples of AJAX Web 2.0 include:

  • Google Maps
  • Google Suggest

The technologies that form the basis of AJAX are:

  • standards based presentation using XHTML and CSS
  • dynamic display and interaction using the Document Object Model (DOM)
  • data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT (or the more efficient JSON data format)
  • asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest
  • JavaScript to bind it all together

Essentially an extra layer is added to the architecture – an AJAX engine which handles JavaScript calls from a client, sends a httpXML request to the web server which sends back data (usually as XML) which the AJAX engine then sends back to the client as HTML data formatted with CSS.

Although AJAX does make the experience more responsive, it does have it’s downsides, including:

  • web pages are dynamically generated and thus search engines will not access the content, and the user will not be able to bookmark a particular view, nor will hitting back give the previous view but perhaps the initial entry point.

More information on AJAX:

Development options for Windows Web Servers:

Development options for Linux Web Servers:

  • NetBeans:
    • website
  • Ruby on Rails:
    • website
  • PHP
    • website

AJAX libraries and other tools:

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