Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

To AJAX, or not to AJAX!

Recently, my Tech. Lead forwarded me his email that he had posted on one of our discussion groups, with his permission, I am reproducing it below.

Yes, we've all been hearing about the 4-letter acronym for a long-time. But, what exactly it is? What does it do? How does it work? And the most important question where should I use it and where not? Well take minute to go thru these:
http://www.xul.fr/en-xml-ajax.html

The above article starts by answering another important question, which most of us (well, at least me) might not have even thought about. The word AJAX suddenly came into existence from no where. No framework (.NET 1.1, Java) released any updates to support it. Then how the hell can I just start using a new buzzword, and expect it to work. The answer is AJAX is just another flashy name given to a set of tools that existed since IE 4.0 , earlier known as Xmlhttp. Now that the world started realizing the potential of web-based applications, suddenly Xmlhttp came out of the grave, but with the brand new identity.

Don't get me wrong on this. I'm definitely not against AJAX. I see it as a solution to many UI restrictions we faced in the past. But, as it goes with every new concept that's related to usability, one should always respect the usage patterns and preferences of the target audience. Not to mention browser compatibility, accessibility and mobile support. Its been there for an year, but till now, when I click on the inbox link in Gmail and there's no new mail, for a second I think maybe I didn't click on it. There's nothing wrong about AJAX, it's just that when creating a user interface for a public/promotional website, ALWAYS bear in mind the usability aspects of a web-interface.

Recent study shows that 36% of more than a billion people who use the Internet are from third-world countries( http://www.useit.com/alertbox/internet_growth.html). We are safe on that as in countries like India, Pakistan, China, etc. people use the Internet for more advance tasks apart from mails/chats etc. But its the next two big slices of the pie, Europe (24%) and North America (23%), that should raise a concern. In these regions, people use the Internet for day-to-day activities ranging from buying toilet-paper online to financial transactions on the web. And age-group stats are interesting as well. With such a diverse audience, the last thing, you would like a new feature in your website to do is increase the end-user's learning curve and thus decrease the usability-kudos you planned to earn by using AJAX.

Not going any further in details, take some time out to read thru the following articles. These might help you get a better insight(specially the drawbacks) about AJAX. Bear in mind all these are just opinions. There are no defined rules in web-usability. At the end of the day, it's the person who visualizes the interface, makes the call, INTUITIVELY!

To AJAX:
http://www.sourcelabs.com/blogs/ajb/2005/12/......

or,not to AJAX:
http://alexbosworth.backpackit.com....


Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post should not be considered as mine. However, you are encouraged to leave your opinions/comments/suggestions.
Comments:
Interesting.

But I'm going to AJAX. I've already been exploring the techniques to use it with Coldfusion.

I'll make a prototype and try to win support from the managers, but the usability issue is rightly raised, if it makes things difficult for the user, we may not go on this path.

thanks anyway. :)
 
long long time no update. how come.
 
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