As I've mentioned before, Baseline Magazine is one of my favorites. I love their detailed case studies because they are long enough to provide real meat. When I was CIO, I often turned to Baseline for ideas about how others were doing things. One of their regular features is a primer on new technology. I guess the idea is to keep CIOs up to speed. It's better to think of it as an early warning system. If there's something in the primer you don't already understand, you're probably behind.
This month, the primer is on AJAX. Here's the summary excerpt: "Ajax, a collection of programming technologies, delivers online content to users without reloading an entire page." Not bad for a one sentence description. The article says the downside is that AJAX is hard:
Creating an AJAX application from scratch is like having to build a brick wall but first having to figure out how to create the bricks. "Sexy Web pages are great," says Forrester Research analyst Mike Gilpin, "but the dark side to AJAX is that it's really, really labor intensive." That's why AJAX-like applications haven't achieved widespread popularity.
Of course, as the primer says, this will get easier with the right tools. Some would claim those tools exist now, although it's not likely that your IT department will start a Rails project anytime soon. I just read a Burton report about Ruby and Rails that recommended "caution" and maybe a pilot project. At any rate, when your CIO says something about AJAX in the next staff meeting, you might wonder if they learned about it from Baseline.