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AJAX

Ajax, or AJAX, (Asynchronous Javascript And XML) is a web development technique used for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user requests a change. This is intended to increase the web page's interactivity, speed, functionality, and usability.

Ajax is asynchronous in that extra data is requested from the server and loaded in the background without interfering with the display and behaviour of the existing page. JavaScript is the scripting language in which Ajax function calls are usually made. Data is retrieved using the XMLHttpRequest object that is available to scripting languages run in modern browsers. There is, however, no requirement that the asynchronous content is formatted in XML.

Ajax is a cross-platform technique usable on many different operating systems, computer architectures, and web browsers as it is based on open standards such as JavaScript and the DOM. There are free and open source implementations of suitable frameworks.

The core justification for Ajax style programming is to overcome the page loading requirements of HTML/HTTP-mediated web pages. Ajax creates the necessary initial conditions for the evolution of complex, intuitive, dynamic, data-centric user interfaces in web pages—the realization of that goal is still a work in progress.

Web pages, unlike native applications, are loosely coupled, meaning that the data they display are not tightly bound to data sources and must be first marshaled (set out in proper order) into an HTML page format before they can be presented to a user agent on the client machine. For this reason, web pages have to be re-loaded each time a user needs to view different datasets. By using the XMLHttpRequest object to request and return data without a re-load, a programmer bypasses this requirement and makes the loosely coupled web page behave much like a tightly coupled application, but with a more variable lag time for the data to pass through a longer "wire" to the remote web browser.

For example, in a classic desktop application, a programmer has the choice of populating a tree view control with all the data needed when the form initially loads, or with just the top-most level of data—which would load more quickly, especially when the dataset is very large. In the second case, the application would fetch additional data into the tree control depending on which item the user selects. This functionality is difficult to achieve in a web page without Ajax. To update the tree based on a user's selection would require the entire page to re-load, leading to a very jerky, non-intuitive feel for the web user who is browsing the data in the tree.

 
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