Applying AJAX

2005-12-07 13:30:00

AJAX is officially an entrenched technolgy buzzword. We've finally got Jacob Nielson intoning on his Weblog, "AJAX Sucks Most of the Time". At least he did put that qualifier in there.

I'm always inclined to take what Nielson says with a grain of salt, but I have to say I think he's right on target in this post. And he even shows a remarkable ability to adjust a previous position:

For new or inexperienced Web designers, I stand by my original recommendation. Ajax: Just Say No.

With respect to the use of ajax by highly skilled Web designers, I have changed my opinion somewhat: people who really know what they are doing can sometimes use ajax to good effect, though even experienced designers are advised to use ajax as sparingly as possible.

Of course given that fact that my primary occupation at the moment is creating a Web application entirely in AJAX, I can't really get behind that "sparingly as possible" bit.

And Nielson seems still to be stuck on what he describes as issues with "the current implementation of ajax pages" -- a really "Web 1.0" way of thinking about the Web, as a collection of pages. The so-called Web 2.0 thinking of course is of the Web as a collection of applications.

Nonetheless, some of the points he raises are valid -- issues with mobile-device users, printing, and search engines. He also of course raises the standard-issue problem of the "AJAX Back button problem."

In some contexts of course, there is no Back button, and no "back" to go to. You find this in the newer kinds of Web applications that are working together to create the next iteration of the Web. And "skimping on the pate" of AJAX technologies isn't going to get that job done


This is the blog for Matthew Eernisse. I currently work at Yammer as a developer, working mostly with JavaScript. All opinions expressed here are my own, not my employer's.


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