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How "Real-World AJAX" Faculty Has Disarmed Me

I was always skeptical about AJAX. This technology can be useful for Google, Yahoo, or Amazon, and the like but...

I was always skeptical about AJAX. This technology can be useful for Google, Yahoo, or Amazon, and the like. Because regular businesses can not afford it. They can not hire a team of experts to find workaround for dozens of serious problems browsers/JavaScript introduce. Browsers/JavaScript is not an application development environment.


Jouk Pleiter of BackBase presenting to the "Real-World AJAX" audience of
more than 400 on Monday, March 13, 2006 in New York City

Have you ever been invited to an event, where every person has an assigned seat, and a perfect personalized goody bag is waiting for you on the table?

No, I’m not talking about a wedding. This was SYS-CON’s "Real-World AJAX" Seminar in Manhattan. I’ve been to a couple of other events during the last year. This one was the best so far.

At 7:50AM they gave me 120 sec for the book pitch right before Jesse James Garrett's keynote. (Jesse  came up with the  AJAX name for technology existed for years).

Ten other speakers were talking about AJAX after Jesse, and there was an evening panel featuring Jesse, David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby on Rails) and three other AJAX luminaries.

I was prepared to ask specific technical questions about AJAX problems, but every presenter was talking about lots and lots of issues they were facing while developing AJAX applications anyway. No sales whatsoever. This was the most honest team of presenters ever. After hearing all their testimonies about the plethora of AJAX issues, I decided to ask a generic question, if the panelists believed that AJAX would be around in three years. Most of them answered that it’ll be around in three, but they were not sure about 5 or 7 years from now. Fair enough. I had an impression that all of them enjoyed the technology, understood the issues, and were willing to try to solve them… somehow. I wonder if there are people who are developing Web applications in the Assembly language? Just a thought...

The only thing I do not believe in is AJAX frameworks. Any of them is a colossus on clay legs. When a technology has so many issues, what’s the point of hiding them behind the developer-friendly tools?

Having said all this, I respect people who are fighting with AJAX, I wish them all the best, but I’m not joining their legions just yet.

posted Monday, 13 March 2006
tags:

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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Most Recent Comments
Ivan Samuelson 06/02/06 11:30:04 AM EDT

I respect your decision to be alarmed by AJAX. However, I do not agree with your decision. What has me baffled is how people can say "I don't like AJAX. It scares me" yet, they don't tell anyone exactly why.

Your comment "Browsers/JavaScript is not an application development environment" is one such issue I have. True, the browser itself is not a development environment. It never was meant to be. However, the actual development of web-based applications can be done with various tools, including Visual Studio .NET. VS allows you to debug Javascript code with ease. And, there are IDEs coming out with AJAX-enabled features and you have 3rd party components coming out with AJAX features enabled in them.

You also state how the framework has several issues, yet you fail to mention them. If you are going to argue this, I think you need to back up your arguments. Exactly what issues do you see? EVERY programming language/framework has issues, but there can always be solutions to those problems.

I'm not a person who feels AJAX should be used just to use it. I believe it has it's place in web application development. Web apps are moving away from the "stateless" type presentation to a more interactive presentation, and that's what people want.

Remember when it was DOS-based apps and Windows came onto the market? Many people shunned it at first because it was something new. In the case of AJAX, it's NOT new. It's something that's been there since the mid-90's, but it's been refined, just like windowing operating systems.

Highly interactive web apps are the future and Web 2.0 is part of it, so rather than disregard the technology and not offer any solutions to what you perceive as problems with it, why not offer to help out? Let's work together and make it work. Customers are demanding it.

My last comment is this: I am a senior software developer at a utility company. Our enterprise architecture group stated this about AJAX and it's use within our company:

We are a utility company, not a software development company.

That was their reason as to why AJAX shouldn't be used, even though our customers are screaming for the interactivity that AJAX can bring to a web app.

SYS-CON Italy News Desk 03/14/06 02:05:55 PM EST

I was always skeptical about AJAX. This technology can be useful for Google, Yahoo, or Amazon, and the like. Because regular businesses can not afford it. They can not hire a team of experts to find workaround for dozens of serious problems browsers/JavaScript introduce. Browsers/JavaScript is not an application development environment.

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