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The Buckblog

assorted ramblings by Jamis Buck


26 February 2005 — 2-minute read

In a recent article, Jesse James Garrett describes “Ajax”, which is the term he has coined for describing “Asynchronous Javascript +XML”. The question a lot of people have been asking is, “why rename this, when it has existed for years?”

I, for one, see a lot of value in a name. How many of you have tried to have an intelligent discussion with coworkers about “XMLHTTPRequest”? First of all, it’s next to impossible to say more than once or twice per minute.

As I recently posted on Ruby-Talk:

It’s certainly easier to talk about “Ajax” than “that technique that uses XMLHttpRequest to send asynchronous requests to the server via Javascript without having to reload the page.” That’s the point, I think—not that something new has been discovered, but that a label has been given to that thing to make it easier to discuss. I’d even go so far as to posit that the reason Ajax has taken so long to really start gaining attention is because there’s not been an easy way to talk about it.

Think about design patterns. Most people agree that these are good things. However, most of these patterns are not new—it’s just that they’ve recently been given names to facilitate discussion about them.

When you give something a name, you can define and then hide an entire host of assumptions behind it. That’s where the value comes from.

At any rate, I really don’t care what people call it, as long as they define it somewhere, and the term becomes widely used. Ajax meets the first criterion, and is rapidly growing to meet the second, so I’ll use it.

On a somewhat related note, I’ve written my first Ajax-enabled application. It’s a simple word game-feel free to try it out right here. No guarantees how long that link will remain viable-it’s running on a manually-started lighttpd instance. But enjoy it while it lasts. (Note: it has only been tested on Firefox and will almost certainly not work correctly with IE.)

Oh, and if you want to download the app itself, grab it here.