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AJAX

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or its acronym Ajax, is a Web development technique for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to shift a great deal of interaction to the Web surfer's computer, exchanging data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire Web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the Web page's interactivity, speed, and usability. The Ajax technique uses a combination of

  • XHTML (or HTML) and CSS for marking up and styling information.
  • The DOM accessed with a client-side scripting language, especially ECMAScript implementations like JavaScript and JScript, to dynamically display and interact with the information presented
  • The XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data asynchronously with the web server. In some Ajax frameworks and in some situations, an IFrame object is used instead of the XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data with the web server.
  • XML is commonly used as the format for transferring data, although any format will work, including preformatted HTML, plain text, JSON and even EBML.
  • Like DHTML, LAMP, or SPA, Ajax is not a technology in itself, but a term that refers to the use of a group of technologies together.

Interactivity
Ajax applications are mainly executed on the user's machine, by manipulating the current page within their browser using document object model methods. Ajax can be used for a multitude of tasks such as updating or deleting records; expanding web forms; returning simple search queries; or editing category trees -- all without the requirement to fetch a full page of HTML each time a change is made. Generally only small requests are required to be sent to the server, and relatively short responses are sent back. This permits the development of more interactive applications featuring more responsive user interfaces due to the use of DHTML techniques.

Portability
Ajax applications utilize well-documented features present in all major browsers on most existing platforms. Though this situation could feasibly change in the future, at the moment, Ajax applications are effectively cross-platform.

While the Ajax platform is more restricted than the Java platform, current Ajax applications effectively fill part of the one-time niche of Java applets: extending the browser with lightweight mini-applications.

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