CIL2006, Day 1: New Web Site Tools & Technologies: AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript & XML)

(Jason Clark was the speaker)

– Google maps, sproutLiner, Yahoo Instant Search, Google Suggest, Scriptaculous wiki
– Rather than everything on the page changing when you request new info, only the new info loads (no page refresh) – this makes the page and the site faster.
– scriptalicious – showed a drag and drop interaction

AJAX uses:
– javascript
– xhtml
– xmp httprequest() objects
… to communicate with a server side request

Library use of AJAX:
– browsing subject titels
– predisplaying indexes and database categories
– complex ILL or contact forms
– federated searching
– opac and digital library interfaces

Used the right way, ajax can help save the time of the user – that’s good.

He showed something  he built – it searches amazingly fast, only the new info changes (in this case, the search results) – nothing else on the page changes

There’s a lot of potential here…

Why is it good?

open standards. Reduces number of pages needed
faster interface
more efficient use of bandwidth
the xmlhttprequest object – becoming a w3c standard

why is it bad?
– breaks the back button
– decreased usability
relies on client side processing (many didn’t actually work during his examples)

when to use it?
search functions
processing large datasets
validating complex forms
predictable, controlled user environment (this is needed) – right now, it should be add-on functionality)