The dirt on Ajax

How far will Ajax reach beyond speedier browser experiences?

Stronger than dirt? Earlier this year, developers began talking about Ajax as a technique for building richer client applications from the browser. Will this approach have wider implications as we begin to build out SOAs?

Last month, fellow ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright even raised the specter that Ajax could potentially someday kill the application server. Now, James Strachan asks a similar question: "Is Ajax going to kill the Web frameworks?"

Ajax, or Asynchronous JavaScript + XML, is a set of techniques that involves dynamically placing an engine between the user and the server. Ajax applications transfer only XML-encoded data through the engine, rather than entire Web pages. The most immediate benefit is that the approach appears to speed up Web page interactions. Google Maps employs Ajax for this purpose.

But Ajax may play a greater role in connecting clients to various back-end services. Strachan observes that "the Java ecosystem has zillions of Web frameworks from JSF, Tapestry, Struts, WebWork, Spring WebFlow to things like JSP/JSTL/Velocity etc. There's probably a new Web framework born every day in Java some place."  However, he speculates, the rise of AJAX may "cause these traditional HTML/HTTP web frameworks to become legacy."

Ajax may pick up the templating, editing, and viewing functions that we now rely on HTML/HTTP-based frameworks to handle, Strachan observes.

It's too early to call whether Ajax will be able offer a simpler way to deliver Web services. But this is a technology worth watching.