Hichcliffe on Ajax

I know I’ve written a fair amount in response to Dion Hinchcliffe‘s posts, but I wanted to point out his latest offering which highlights a number of great Ajax resources. He’s tends to look at Web 2.0 objectively in a way that I appreciate. Lately he’s been on a roll.

I’ve said before that we need to be careful about laying our hopes and dreams at the feet of the (supposed) almighty Ajax. I still believe that, but I think it can fill a niche that desperately needs to be filled. I was talking with Eli Neiburger today about the new MiLE client. (You may remember from a previous post of mine that MiLE was recently hacked. Badly.) Their new client, much to my chagrin, is java. Java is a network administrator’s nightmare, a relic that urgently needs to be put out to pasture. I’m truly disappointed. For what that client does, an Ajax alternative could easily take its place.

Ajax is well positioned to address the need for client-side, stateful applications. I’d like to see the “next gen” ILS and ILS support software take advantage of it in place of Java. Requiring a contemporary web browser is a much more reasonable expectation than requiring customers to juggle different versions of the JRE. I understand that using java has helped to defray operating costs for vendors, but with Web 2.0 technology, the same level of ubiquity can be achieved without penalizing the customer by encumbering them with a ’90s albatross. This could easily be done using the model I (and others) have been begging for: light clients, extensive, standards-based APIs. The tools Web 2.0 has made available obviate the need for complex client-side applications.

Let me be clear on the difference between what I’m suggesting in this post as opposed to what I’ve said about Ajax in the past. I do not think we should launch into projects that require our patrons to have Ajax-capable browsers. I think that would be premature and somewhat irresponsible. I’m saying that the applications vendors require libraries to use on the back-end should adopt Web 2.0 technologies, such as Ajax. Shedding an old technology like java should be a priority.

Hinchcliffe’s article also serves as a good starting point is you are looking to read some material that will familiarize you with Ajax. He also points out that it is improving, and worth keeping an eye on.

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