And it Got a Name: Ajax

As I predicted, web-application developers are starting initiatives to move more of the web-application to the web browser. I talked about "some of the opportunities":http://www.zefhemel.com/archives/2005/01/08/web-applications-vs-desktop-applications earlier, and also about moving much of the "UI logic to the browser":http://www.zefhemel.com/archives/2005/01/25/moving-the-web-application-to-the-browser. Even earlier I mentioned that "it would be a good idea to develop a framework to make client-side browser work easier":http://www.zefhemel.com/archives/2004/12/11/we-need-a-client-side-web-framework. Recently this idea has been named: "Ajax":http://adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php -- Asynchronous Javascript And XML. But enough "I saw it all coming" patting on my own back: this is an interesting shift. Ajax is the new buzzword in the web-development world these days. People start to ask all kinds of questions: "is Ajax actually going to make the normal client-side non-web application useless?":http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1777009,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535 "Is Ajax even a new idea?":http://www.dynamicobjects.com/d2r/archives/003147.html

For the unknowing, what's this Ajax thing? I myself look at it this way: until now all the action in your web-application has taken place at the server-side. The user's browser was only used for the view, to show the pretty charts, forms and reports. What's the main problem with web-applications today? They're unresponsive and don't feel as rich as normal Windows (or Mac OS X, Linux etc.) applications. The solution? Move as much to the browser as possible. Only contact the server if it's necessary. This not only makes your web-application more responsive, but also takes a lot of load from the server.

Does this actually work? Absolutely. Success stories are coming mainly from Google, which has become an expert on this technique, they include "Gmail":http://www.gmail.com and "Google Maps":http://maps.google.com.

If you search Google for "Ajax" right now, you'll mainly find hits about the popular Dutch soccer club, but that will soon change.