Ajax takes off Matt 06 Apr 2005

42 comments Latest by pb

Pretty impressive how rapidly and effectively the term Ajax has taken off. Since Jesse James Garrett coined the term, Fiftyfoureleven.com has experienced a tenfold increase in hits to the page where it collects links on the topic: “The whole concept tipped when someone (quite conceivably a connector) explained what it was all about and gave it a simple, undaunting name.”

…Before Ajax, I was documenting xmlHttpRequest links and resources and I’d get a few hits a day to that page - less than 100, some from del.icio.us but most from Google. I was ranking well for ‘javascript’, ‘xmlHttpRequest’ and the terms you’d expect. Post Ajax I easily get over 1000 page views a day on those pages alone.

The Wall Street Journal article that helped spread the word offered this explanation of Ajax: “In the past, to change even a small part of a Web page required reloading the entire page. But Ajax knows to fetch only the part of the screen that needs changing…” It’s a good elevator pitch for non-developers since it emphasizes the benefits of Ajax, not the technology behind it.

The article also ponders how much Ajax will come back to bite Microsoft in the ass (many of the Ajax technologies were developed by Microsoft). “The obvious question is how far programmers at Google or elsewhere can go with Ajax. Specifically, can they build Ajax versions of Word or Excel, thus threatening half of Microsoft’s revenue?”

42 comments so far (Jump to latest)

ac 06 Apr 05

Great, so someone coins a new phrase in a shitty effort to attach themselves to a concept thatís been used for several years. What about the developers that found this solution? Do you see them hitting dozens of blogs shamelessly promoting themselves? No, theyíre working on the next cool idea that inevitably some loser will try to stamp there name.

It bugs the hell out of me that some yogurt eating, marathon running, no meat eating, Starbucks sucking marketing jackass gets as much credit for coining a stupid phrase then the developer that created it.

Geoff 06 Apr 05

Before seeing the term “Ajax” (via this site), I hadn’t really experienced XMLHttpRequest in action. However, I can’t live without it now, and many sites seem lethargic when done the ‘old’ way.

I switched midstream on several projects and am using it to replace customized desktop apps. I realized that I could make a web app that looked just like the desktop apps I was previously writing (using the previously hyped XML-SOAP methods).

Could this be done with XMLHttpRequest instead of “Ajax”? Sure, but it’s nice to have a term to refer to it by, and a community of tutorials and examples to benefit from. Having a hip name didn’t hurt Java, Javascript, or other languages/technologies.


Dan Boland 06 Apr 05

The thing that bugs me the most about the whole Ajax revolution is the fact that I can’t find any resources that will help me learn how to use it or even understand it at its basest level. The closest thing I’ve come to that is Sajax, and that still doesn’t help me much. Does anyone have any links to any resources that tell me more than what Ajax does?

ac: As much as I hate the way you presented yourself (what’s wrong with yogurt, running and vegetarianism?), I actually kind of agree with you… at least in the sense that I can’t stomach that shit-eating grin that Jesse James Garrett (even his name sounds smarmy) has on his face.

Jamie 06 Apr 05

Great! Now someone please rename “RSS”! Adoption of RSS would increase a ton if someone came up with a better name … and please avoid acronyms.

JF 06 Apr 05

Ruby on Rails has Ajax built in — there’s not a whole lot you’ll need to learn. The code came from the development of Backpack, so it’s being tested and improved all the time during the Getting Real Backpack development process. The Rails community is also pitching in with clean transitions and tighter code.

Backpack is fully ajaxed and it will be a great example of the benefits of this tech when it’s released later this month.

ac 06 Apr 05

Dan: Sorry, just really pissed with the whole Ajax thing. Not just me, but numerous developers at some well known organizations have been using this technique for a long time. How is this new? How long has this been available in ASP world? Why canít the creator of this term also include a code snippet with dissertation? Because he really doesn’t understand it? He should just stick with building custom choppers on the Discovery Channel.

Mike P. 06 Apr 05

Definitely looking forward to backpack.

The traffic has lulled at times but is still super high. It was quite fun to watch this thing take off, not just around the web, but in quantifiable numbers in my logfile.

Darrel 06 Apr 05

is there any work going on to make Ajax accessible? For now, it’s dependance entirely on javascript makes it less than ideal for many public facing sites, IMHO. Certainly cool in a defined environment, though.

ac…the lesson learned…any new product/technology/methodology is nothing special until you brand it with a catchy name. ;o)

ac 06 Apr 05

acÖthe lesson learnedÖany new product/technology/methodology is nothing special until you brand it with a catchy name. ;o)

It’s special when it’s used regularly….long before it gets tag with a catchy phrase.

Adam Michela 06 Apr 05

ac: In the end nobody cares who coined the term.

The term works, and it’s apparent we needed it.

We need to face the facts here, designers make things hot.

Yes, all of us programmers have been using Ajax technologies for some time. So what? We didn’t make it hot.

What’s another part of Web 2.0? Folksonomy. A catchy term recently coined that I don’t hear many complaining about. Why? The underlying concept of faceted classification have been employed by programmers and database designers for decades.

Sounds alot like Ajax. It’s no different.

It’s not the technology, it’s the design.

ac 06 Apr 05

Itís not the technology, itís the design.

It’s both….one does not survive without the other.

Adam Michela 06 Apr 05

Mike: I’m still getting a shitload of referrers from your site and I’m not even sure where I’m clearly mentioned. So ya, I’d say you’re doing well :)

Adam Michela 06 Apr 05

ac: I think you’re missing the point. It’s the designers making it hot. The technology makes it work.

There are lot’s of things that work great. Most require a good bit of design and marketing for people to realize it.

pb 06 Apr 05

How tiresome is it with all the people bragging about how old the technology is?

It’s also really lame that Microsoft shose to link httprequest and XML. There’s no reason that the data has to be formatted as XML and Google, for one, usually doesn’t format it as such.

Also holding the whole concept back is the inability to use xmlhttprequest cross-domain (without changing obscure security privileges).

Mike P. 06 Apr 05

“Itís the designers making it hot. The technology makes it work.” - nicely said Adam.

Kevin Tamura 06 Apr 05

Yesterday my IT guy and I were having the same conversation after looking at the new features added to Gmail (rich formatting). It really seems like Google is not that far away from an Ajax version of word.

Geof Harries 06 Apr 05

Attn: Dan Boland

Do you even know Jesse? I doubt it. So before you go start slamming somebody have the proper courtesy to leave your petty comments at home, and grow up in the meantime.

I met Jesse at the recent IA Summit 2005 and he is a super cool guy, not arrogant or “smarmy” like you’re making him out to be.


JF 06 Apr 05

I’m with David.

Dan Boland 06 Apr 05

Geof Harries: From the limited amount of information I have at my disposal, I get a sense of know-it-all arrogance from the man. I could be dead wrong about that, but that’s what I perceive, and perception can’t be changed because someone else doesn’t happen to like it. Besides, your post implies you only met the man once, so…

About joking his name, I’ll admit that was wrong of me; people can’t help what their parents named them.

JF: I think the thing a lot of people are annoyed with is that Garrett gets put on a pedestal for coming up with a name for a technology that already exists. I agree with David that a catchy label is an important contribution for awareness of the technology, but let’s not give more credit than what’s due. Because the fact is that I still can’t find much information about the technology itself.

Dan Boland 06 Apr 05

Oy… if I screwed up my tags at work as much as I screw them up here, I wouldn’t have a job.

Brady Joslin 06 Apr 05

Those who can explain technology to business managers in a simplified manner while focusing on the productivity benefits will typically reap the highest rewards. The pioneers of a given technology may not have the ability to effectively communicate in this fashion.

Managers don’t care how the technology works, they just want to understand the possible benefits and related costs.

Steve, via Den, Fla and now RDU 06 Apr 05

JF: Within our small group we’re always running into issues of little or no documentation. We find ourselves asking, “Is this too new for good docs? Or, is this just too simple for documentation?”

If the Garret document had a code sample, something to demo this methodology, I feel everything would have been ok. However, it did not and it took some time to figure out that Ajax was really nothing new, or very exciting outside the PHP/Ruby/Open source blogsphere. I kept asking everyone, ďIs that it? Canít be. Really?Ē Anyone remember assembler.org?

To me open source means Open Source. Found a new method for XHTML/CSS/JavaScript/blah-blah-blah? Share it, show it, give us a code sample. Donít write a vague college term paper that provides zero information.

Steve, via Den, Fla and now RDU 06 Apr 05

Those who can explain technology to business managers in a simplified manner while focusing on the productivity benefits will typically reap the highest rewards.

I have this friend with 20+ years of C. Funny, he can explain complex data structures to a 7 year old with ADD. A very successful man.

Tom Loudon 06 Apr 05

We could call it “The technology formerly known as…”. I’m not sure what it was called! At least now I have a heading for the concept in my dissertation, I was going to put XMLHttpRequest.

Dan Boland 06 Apr 05

I have this friend with 20+ years of C. Funny, he can explain complex data structures to a 7 year old with ADD. A very successful man.

I’ve noticed that people who can explain complex things to other people without talking down to them are the ones who are the most successful.

Adam Michela 06 Apr 05

Steve, I don’t know how you can subscribe to the theory yet remain a fan of 37signals.

What Garret did isn’t very different from some of the things the Signals do.

Garret wasn’t talking about something that was new, or trying to claim he invented it. He said, “hey look… this is what people are doing… this is the future” … “at our office we call it Ajax”

George Oates 06 Apr 05


Steve, from Co, FLA and now RDU 06 Apr 05

I donít know how you can subscribe to the theory yet remain a fan of 37signals.

Who said I was a fan of 37signals?

JF 06 Apr 05

Yeah, and who said I was a fan of Steve, from Co, FLA and now RDU? Oh, no one. My bad.

Steve, from Co, FLA and now RDU 06 Apr 05

Sounds like my wife….

Adam Michela 06 Apr 05

My bad. I figured since you seem to comment here frequently, yet rarely have anything negative or contradictory to say, that you enjoyed reading SVN?

If that were the case, you would fit my classification as a fan. Apparently it isn’t.

So anyway………

Steve, via Den, Fla and now RDU 06 Apr 05

Who said I was a fan of 37signals?

Meant to imply that Iím not a fanboy.

I do enjoy reading SvN. I don’t agree with everything written here, not even close, but I enjoy reading it.

The Ajax thing is so insignificant that does not warrant a catchy name. The Ajax article reminds me of the late nineties and all the self-proclaimed web gurus that are now selling real estate or used cars. I was hoping we were beyond that.

David Grant 06 Apr 05

I’m not sure what all these new “ajax toolkits” and things will look like, but I do know that it’s a feat of engineering for Google to make web apps /that/ good. You’ll have to manually bend the browsers and servers to get results so great.

maetl 06 Apr 05

The great thing about AJAX of course is that non developers don’t care how something works, as long as it works, and it’s handy to have a general purpose label for a newish web design concept. What I can’t understand however, is why designers *need* someone like JJG to “justify” or “invent” a catch phrase before they feel comfortable using the technology which has been available in browsers since at least 2001.

The problem with AJAX (as a label) is that it is skewed towards *X*ML, and detracts from a direct appreciation and understanding of the core technologies involved (Javascript, Javascript, Javascript).

For example - is validating form fields client side an example of AJAX? Does a non-technical user care if the validator is using XmlHttpRequest or just hard-coded rules in the client side output? Not when the end experience is the same…

Two years ago, the buzz was all about, ‘Rich Internet Applications’ (a term coined by Macromedia), but I haven’t seen much RIA talk anywhere lately… Now we have AJAX, and I that will go in much the same way. I think we will soon need a broader and more inclusive term to describe the emerging ui technology of browser based applications…

Anyone interested in the potential of developing excel style spreadsheets using HTML tables and standards compliant web technologies should check out TrimSpreadsheet… Well documented, open source, and doesn’t need buzzwords to demonstrate it’s value…

sloan 06 Apr 05

Ajax term or not, I really think seeing how it is applied (like Google maps) is the bigger catalyst. But together, with an easy to remember moniker, have made it a popular buzzword. Will it take off? Yes and no I think. As it is, no. It is a bit too complicated I think and relying on Javascript I think will hamper its adoption. But now there is an _expectation_ that the web should behave in a better manner. Which is where the real excitement is I think. PHP, Ruby, all of these technologies are now having to meet expectations, which is a major innovating force. Whether it is using the web browser’s xmlhttprequest call or not, the concept of page responding without having to reload is changing how we approach our designs and what we think is possible (or at least, what we are told is possible).

Fred, the real Fred 06 Apr 05

I leave for a few days and I miss all the banter….

Adam Michela 07 Apr 05

Where was I when “fan” became a bad word? haha

pb 07 Apr 05

maetl, I agree that the emphasis on XML is misplaced. The payload can be formattted in different ways. In fact Google rarely formats the payload in XML. More common are key-value pairs and Javascript arrays.

Andy 07 Apr 05

Check out the AJAX forum @ http://ajaxchange.com

/michael. 07 Apr 05


/michael. 07 Apr 05

Again with HTML. Hixie with an article titled ‘Call an apple an apple’.

pb 08 Apr 05

The Ajax thing is so insignificant

That could be the least informed comment of the year.

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