Ajax technology - an introduction

Oct 13, 2008

In a broader sense, Ajax represents a cluster of technologies that were so designed as to create a developer comprehensive and user-end facile language. At both ends, developer and remote user, Ajax creates and delivers rich web applications on a desktop application basis, providing lower bandwidth usage and speeding up loading page time by retrieving data from servers in the background of the page asynchronously. 

The above definition was a simple yet debated fact at the time when Jesse James Garret first wrote about Ajax and its implications. In 2005, the programming techniques that Ajax implied were far from anything new or out of the ordinary. But put together, they envisioned a programming language that would reduce development time and efforts for building a web page to half and would extent user experience to richer web page imagery and faster viewing time. In simpler words, the Ajax technology would make possible the update of a web page or a section of a web application with input from the server, but without page refreshing. Server-side technologies are still needed but reduced in importance, because the web page data is still subject to some updating by accessing the server but at a different level.

 Technology layers

The name “Ajax” is an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, the basic technologies that the Ajax engine incorporates. More detailed, Ajax implies:

  1. Standards-based presentation using XHTML and CSS

  2. Dynamic display and interaction using Document Object Model

  3. Data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT

  4. Asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest

  5. JavaScript that binds everything together.

Actually, to build an application using Ajax technology only three of these techniques are required: XHTML, the DOM and JavaScript. But, if any amount of development with Ajax techniques is involved then all of these techniques will at some point be required altogether. Alongside there is also required a server-side language to handle the actual interaction with the server and the most typically used are:

  • PHP


  • Java

In the following sections of the article, we shall discuss the basic elements, requirements and possibilities of each technique component in Ajax. As a more personal guide, we have also created an exemplified article on how to choose the most suitable Web programming language for websites with specific purposes.

Other articles in this series:

1. Ajax Technology - an Introduction
2. Standards-based presentation using XHTML and CSS
3. Dynamic display and interaction using Document Object Model
4. Data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT
5. Asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest
6. JavaScript that binds everything together


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