Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fun with AJAX

I recently added some AJAX bits to the PocoPay website. It was surprisingly easy, especially with the help of a great article on IBM’s developerWorks site. Of course AJAX is either the trendy technology of 2005 or a technological breakthrough that will allow for web apps to really start replacing desktop apps, depending on who you ask. Certainly sites like Google Maps and Flickr have a lot of wow-factor. I used AJAX on our PocoPay to allow for users to request their security code be re-sent to their email address or cell phone. It was well suited to this task since the place where they request this information is the same place where they need to use it, so not having to go to another page or do a refresh of the same page is very nice.

There are a lot of much more interesting web apps out there using AJAX besides just the big names noted above. There are several out there trying to replicate basic office applications (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, PIM) using AJAX. I’ve also seen some very cool apps in the pipeline from some large business software vendors. One of these combined AJAX with SVG to create amazingly interactive graphical tools. I had used an earlier version of this product that was a Swing application. This new version was not only orders of magnitude faster but also was much easier to use and interact with. Part of that was lessons learned about usability for the product, but certainly AJAX+SVG had really empowered the developers of the product.

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