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Ajax is the present, not the future

October 18, 2007

Ajax is great, but I think most experienced programmers recognise that it’s essentially nothing new.
The PS3 of client side callback scripting, it’s a nicely packaged and hugely hyped paradigm that still has advocates blue in the face from shouting about it and if it hasn’t already, it is coming to a requirements document near you soon.

Rockford Lhotka talks, in a Visual Studio Magazine guest column entitled “The web is dead”, about Ajax being the last dying breath of the web as we know it:

“I submit that AJAX is the last gasp of a dying technology. It is the hack that adds the straw that will break the camel’s back. Yes, AJAX is cool, and it allows some adequately rich interaction while retaining reasonably broad reach, but it also pushes the browser as far as we’re likely to go. Beyond this point, either the browser transforms into a full-blown programming platform or we find another answer.”

And he is spot on.

I think Ajax will be a long dying breath and it will last for some time – the good ajax sites will give rich, plentiful user experiences for some time to come and the web will be a better place for it.
The bad ones will just have rampantly Ajax-ed everything and, get this – as the user types.. the word suggestions come up.
Wow.
How did we ever live without it?

The future is already here – products like Silverlight and the Windows Presentation Foundation from Microsoft have got me converted already and I’m on my first steps to learning about them.
This rich bundle of technology seems to be the evolution of my .NET experience and I’m about to get on the Microsoft Silverlight bandwagon – having tinkered with flash some time ago, but with no success, I’m finding a viable alternative… in the langauge that I already know.
XAML.. now that’s a new one though. Where’s my Amazon bookmark?

Rockford plugs Silverlight in that same column (well, he would, he’s a Microsoft Regional Director).
And again I think he’s right.. for me anyway:

“The Web isn’t dead, but it is about to undergo the biggest transformation in the past decade. Given a choice between writing complex JavaScript that must accommodate differences in browsers to interact with an antiquated browser API, or writing C# or VB .NET code that is consistent regardless of browser or platform, and which uses a modern API, I think most developers would choose the latter, hands down.”

Looks like it’s new technology reading time again.

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