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Books & Articles I wrote.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Lots of great comments - and Ajax reply ...

This is in reference to some comments on my earlier post.

Hi Thomas - love the resume site btw! I really just wanted to get some comments on the blog so i thought i'd be controversial :)

To answer your question:

I wonder, in the purest curiosity, how you were able to modify the web page
display in 1999. I did an Ajax-ish thing shortly after that and had to use (to
learn a little) Java to generate a decent display.

There were a few ways. Here is a great article that outlines some ideas back in Januaray 1998. It does focus on one browser and Xml was missing, but is we are to ignore the underlying parts of Ajax, the actual concept worked fine.

A common way which i wrote about in the old Active Web Magazine (from Pinnacle) a long time ago (it seems) is to use XHTML, CSS, DOM, XML, XSLT (a lot!) adn Javascript, with the XmlHttpRequest being one of Remote Scripting [1], RDS [2] and even fiddles of IFrames, hidden frames and such (granted this part is less than standard!). Here's an example from 2002 using Xml Request [3]. There are earlier examples around (we used them!).

Combined with Xml Rpc on the client (and server), you could make web apps and even Office apps much smarter. In fact Xml Rpc from the client (and later the IE Soap client) allowed you to do pretty much anything you want (bet you'll pull my up on cross-browser!! ;))

Michael Cornig of Microsoft (you still around??) even wrote Jsml (once found at jsml.net) which i saw demoed at Chris Sells Web Services DevCon in Boston some time back. This used the Ajax type concept to relay information back and from the server(s) using these techniques (and a MVC type model for the web). I don't know that it really took off, but it was certainly the start of some great thinking.

The POINT is that i love that this stuff is happening. Heck i used Xslt on the client when it was in the old working draft format - it was great! We then ended up at a point where there was little client work done at all (in fact even .Net 1.0 pushed this concept) but now we are moving back towards a smarter client that does more than just business validation (i've not read enough about how Ajax concepts will affect postback - or work with it - pointers anyone?).

I was just a little confused over why it was such a big deal. I guess what i take away from it is that a LOT of people are now doing this and as James points out in an mail he sent, there are some great ideas around it now - that is the real point.

In any case, i hope it continues. I'll be making sure more of it goes into my work. The old problem of working on other browsers is not a big issue. My biggest worry is that as we move to more ubiquitous devices (pda's etc) where there is limited support for these technologies, there may be some snags. But until then....

[1] http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/rmscpt/Html/rmscpt.asp

[2] http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/workshop/author/databind/datasources.asp

[3] http://jibbering.com/2002/4/httprequest.html

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