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[web] AJAX... just another pain in the butt? or worth it?

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So... I read up a little on AJAX, thought the concept was pretty cool... and departed to Borders in search of a good book on it. Long story short, I made it to Borders, found a good book, but quickly began to realize how big of a pain in the ass it would be to incorporate it into my site. The only real advantage I can remotly think of is quicker load times. Instead of using a form to sumbit info, then forwarding the user back to another page... I can send the info over to a hidden frame, have it grab the updates, then pass it back to the main browswer using lots of javascript and <div\> tags. So, I will put the question out there. Is AJAX really worth all the extra programming time required to enhance the user interface? Or is it just another big new thing? My vote is currently for the latter.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I'd say "it depends". It's a nifty technique, but only use it if it's actually necessary.

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I think ajax really is the next evolution of the web. I think that much is legit at least.. but I'm also going to say that many problems with ajax are still being figured out right now design-wise. My own newer web development all employs ajax technology, because it offers the kind of interactivity you would really *want* in a web application. But careful thought really has to be given as to where it would work best.

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Michael Tanczos

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Ajax is the powderly thing that you should not eat and is always in everybody's bathroom cabinet.

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A lot of the places I see AJAX being used are just plain obnoxious. It's like flash, it'll be overused and in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons. Also remember, AJAX breaks search engine spiders. Don't hide anything they should be able to see behind AJAX. Use it sparingly, only where it would have a noticable (and positive) effect on the user interface.

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Ajax is a great tool if used for the right reasons. "getting quicker load times" is not a good reason. "offering interactivity that is not possible with standard HTML forms" is. I have used Ajax on a website before: I had two dropdown select boxes next to eachother. When you selected an item from the first one, the contents of the second one would change, depending on what you picked from the first one.

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If you can build the site in HTML, then do so. As soon as you start adding javascript or anything non-html then you will run into compatibility issues, either with search engines or older browsers etc. The whole point of the web was to be able to be used on any device.

So if you can do it in HTML, do so. Then anyone using a mobile / portable device, can use your page (which will be a pretty large market in coming years)

However where AJAX really excels is in "Web Applications", here you have no choice but to use it. If your developing a web based Word Processor, or other application, then by all means use it.

Dont use AJAX just to have fancy sliding menus, or as in a demo I saw, the ability to drag an item from a shop onto your shopping basket. It might look great, but your losing market share.

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Quote:
Original post by Saruman
Check out Atlas.NET, which is a pretty nice toolset.


are you sure thats the right name? googling it returned almost nothing.

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Incidentally, Flash is also a bathroom cleaner in the UK. I wouldn't advise eating that either.

Seriously, I also advocate nice simple sites. A bit of javascript doesn't hurt here and there, but a flash intro for no good reason is just a waste of my time, and I almost always click skip before its even finished loading.

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