Everything You Need To Know About What is AJAX? Its Importance And Benefits?

What is AJAX

Everything You Need To Know About What is AJAX? Its Importance And Benefits?

Everything You Need To Know About What is AJAX? Its Importance And Benefits? 1200 628 Status200

The advances in web technology have surfaced over the past many years that helped web developers and entrepreneurs in their respective businesses. As a web developer, you have to know complete details about what is AJAX, its significance, and its benefits. So the AJAX system is one of the widely used technology and was available on the marketplace around 1999. AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML and is a new technique for creating better, faster, and more collaborative web applications with HTML, CSS, XML/JSON, and JavaScript. Technically, AJAX is not a software program but is an SDK that facilitates web developers to render server-side code on the front end asynchronously. Jesse James Garret named this technology AJAX. The use of the AJAX technique for web applications is beneficial and simplest enough.

AJAX uses HTML and CSS for presentation, XML or JSON for content, and JavaScript for both content fetching and dynamic display. However, when you deeply study, you will come to know what is AJAX in JavaScript and its significance? AJAX permits web pages to be updated asynchronously by interchanging data with web servers. That’s why it is possible to update parts of the web page without reloading.

With the help of AJAX, a developer can

  • Update a web page without reloading
  • Request data from a server
  • Receive data from a server
  • Send data to a server
  • Make better usage of the server’s bandwidth

What Is AJAX?

AJAX is a technology used for optimizing the speed of web applications, by permitting to send or receive small parts of data to and from the server in the background. The origin of AJAX began with the Microsoft development Remote Scripting Approach in 1998. The content transferring methods had appeared in the layer of Netscape 4.0 (1997) and in the element IFRAME of internet explorer 3 (1996). By 2000, Netscape lost its browser market. Later on, in 2005, the brand new AJAX drew up the attraction of cyber civilization and became an important tool for web development and applications. Since then, AJAX is the central part of every topic and story related to the web 2.0 generation.

Significance of AJAX in Web Development:

AJAX is the most famous and rich internet application technology and is getting industrial momentum with various toolkits as well as emerging frameworks. But at the same time, AJAX is supported by JavaScript, has browser compatibility, and is pretty easy to debug and maintain. Basically, this info is for those who want to know a little background of what is AJAX?

“It is the procedure of the data exchange with a server, and updating parts of the web page based on the server’s response without refreshing the whole page”. It is safe to presume that the introduction of AJAX further facilitates the developers in devising revolutionary technology such as Web Sockets, which further allowed web developers to craft modules such as Push Notifications, Peer-Peer communication, and real-time chat applications.

Fundamental Roles of Ajax in Web Applications

Here are some of the most fundamental roles of Ajax in web applications.

Auto Reloads Page

 The developer uses the AJAX technique that helps to auto-reload the page with updates. AJAX provides a pooling mechanism and better use of it can definitely prove as a bandwidth-friendly approach.

Secured Connection

AJAX helps to secure the user’s data and pass that data to the server. So one of the important features of AJAX is its one-one interface between server and client. We can say AJAX is helping not only in increasing efficiency but also in securing the data in a more defining manner.

API integration

AJAX provides a gateway to the client for API integration. This allows the web developer to build efficient applications out of the box, by calling only the needed API endpoints to trigger AJAX for asynchronous data population into the app’s front end. 

Open Source

 AJAX is an open-source web development program and therefore you’ll find numerous client-side frameworks that support this technology. This induces adaptation and diversification within the developers’ communities. One of the key reasons why it is still popular and relevant even after two decades when it was first launched.

Bases of AJAX

There are some key important features of AJAX, and is based on the following standards.

  • A browser-based data presentation using cascading style sheets (CSS), and HTML
  • Data is served via XML or JSON from the server to the client-side and vice versa.
  • Data is fetched using the XMLHttpRequest object in the browser behind the scenes.
  • JavaScript is used for triggering the AJAX.

The Invention of AJAX

AJAX was invented in 1999 by Microsoft and just took the software world six years to catch up. There are two technologies for AJAX

  • Ability to capture and initiate asynchronous HTTP requests (web 2.0)
  • Ability to enhance data presentation and usability on the client-side

Working of AJAX

Computer users always wish to have their applications working in a faster and efficient mode. There was always a need to implement a technology that could introduce fast data loading with reliability and a sense of real-time information visuals. Traditional legacy software follows the rule of a complete page load that eventually leads to higher consumption of server bandwidth. This procedure is reasonable but time-consuming and inconvenient. To overcome the above problem, AJAX was brought upon the I.T horizon. It offers partial content requests and responses to update the DOM.

One of the advantages of AJAX supported page, the users will never see a page refresh and a white window. However, the transactions become fast and smooth because during AJAX implementation, the DOM updates and replace with the latest requested server’s response. The JavaScript commands of the user’s actions are delivered to the processor of AJAX instead of creating queries and requests to HTTP and servers. So if you want anything from the server, all you have to do is write some additional codes for partial data retrieval. The AJAX request will be transferred to the server asynchronously, the server will send the data response in JSON/XML and then, it will get populated back to the app’s client.

As we now know that AJAX is open source and numerous client side frameworks have implemented this technology, which any web developer can use to inherit its functionality. Therefore, we will discuss how to trigger AJAX requests by using JQUERY to showcase what is AJAX in JavaScript.

$.ajax({   //$ represents DOM

  method: "POST",    //http method 
  url: "Test.php",   //Server side resource
  data: { FirstName: "Adam", LastName: "Doe" } //JSON Object
})
  .done(function( msg ) {    //.done will get called as soon as the ajax request gets executed successfully
    alert( "Data Saved: " + msg );
  })
 .fail(function() { //This will be called if ajax request doesn’t execute successfully
    alert( "error" );
  })
  .always(function() { //This callback will always be executed no matter the ajax call completes successfully or fails
    alert( "complete" );
  });

Important Features of AJAX

There are several implementation wise important features of AJAX in web development.

Let’s have a look!

  • AJAX is a user-friendly approach
  • Does not depend on server technology
  • Makes web pages faster
  • Increases the performance of the web page
  • Support for client-side template rendering
  • Assists in the data view control
  • Support for live data binding
  • Reduces consumption of server resources
  • Responsive and rich user interfaces
  • Needs no traditional form to submit and the whole page refresh
  • Only some part of the page is refreshed/tweaked
  • Processing is similar for all browser types
  • Faster interaction and development of web applications
  • The server uses a reduced amount of bandwidth
  • Improves user’s interactivity
  • Offers better usability

Advantages and Disadvantages of AJAX Technology

When we talk about technology and its uses, there are pros and cons of everything. Like other techniques, there are many advantages and disadvantages of AJAX.

Advantages of AJAX

Increased Speed

The purpose of AJAX is to increase the performance, speed, and usability of web applications. So, the AJAX technique reduces the server traffic inside requests and lowers the time consumption on both side’s responses.

Asynchronous Calls

One of the most significant advantages of AJAX is it allows users to make asynchronous calls. However, it permits the client browser to avoid waiting for all data to reach before starting the rendering (Lazy Loading).

User Friendly

AJAX system enables web applications in a faster, responsive, and user-friendly way. It helps in retaining user engagement by allowing multiple updates on a webpage at a given time.

XMLHttpRequest

It is a request type that is in wide use for sending a request to the AJAX pages. These are also known as asynchronous HTTP requests to the server for sending data to both sides.

Bandwidth Usage

The bandwidth usage is one of the advantages of AJAX that helps to improve performance as well as speed. Rather than transmitting the whole page’s content, this technology helps to fetch partial contents so as to make the best use of the Server’s bandwidth.

Form Validation

The AJAX technique provides proper and instant form validation unlike traditional form submission, where client-side validations occur post submission. AJAX gives speed, therefore, one of the significant advantages of AJAX usage.

Drawbacks of AJAX

There are several disadvantages of AJAX from different perspectives.

  • It can increase development and design time.
  • The AJAX system is more complex than building classic web applications.
  • JavaScript disabled browsers cannot utilize the application.
  • The pages with successive AJAX requests cannot register themselves with the browser’s history. So when you click the browser’s back button, you may not return to the earlier state of the page but may return to the full page.
  • The dynamic web page also makes it difficult for users to bookmark the specific state of the application.
  • AJAX technology offers less security because the client has access to download all the files.
  • You can only implement it if you know about the API layer of the server.

The Characteristics of AJAX:

When we talk about AJAX and its characteristics, we know that it is a web designing approach and is used on the client-side to develop asynchronous web applications. AJAX is not a single technique, and it is a set of plenty of technologies. So there are numerous characteristics of using the AJAX system to communicate with servers proficiently and to know what is AJAX in JavaScript.

The Web Page as an Application

There are many important features of AJAX, and the most beneficial one is its use as an application. The AJAX web-based applications are more effective and intelligent as compared to HTML pages. They interact with the Backend server and act like desktop applications. AJAX web pages provide fast and full user response because these are more responsive than HTML pages. Therefore, this technology is a prerequisite for developing a Single Page Application (SPA).

Data Storage on the Server

The server executes the complete HTML page in traditional web apps. On the other hand, in AJAX technology, the server does not have to change all the pages because of the direct sending and receiving data option to the client-side. In AJAX development, the server has to deal with data, not with the web page. So it delivers better scalability and performance.

Provides Dynamic and Continuous user Experience

The AJAX technology provides a dynamic user experience, and a user can directly interact with pages. On the other hand, in classical web applications, the user has to wait to receive a server response after sending a request to the server.  The user cannot perform any other task during this process. So, it is one of the most important features of AJAX that you don’t have to wait for the server response. You can get asynchronous communication with the server that provides you necessary nonlinear workflow.

The Challenges in AJAX Maintenance and Development:

Poor User Interface

While implementing AJAX, the developer must be extremely cautious while binding the data to the template. Any missed field or entry can lead to the UI breakage.

AJAX Scripting based Approach

There are many advantages and disadvantages of AJAX technology, and the most challenging thing in this approach is it uses a lot of scripting written in JavaScript. So the AJAX in JavaScript is appropriate, friendly, and has many operating systems’ and browsers’ compatibility. The JavaScript code is hard to read, test, and debug.

Mark Up and Language Mix-Up

In classic web designs, the application interface is coded individually with the logic that makes the application easy to manage and develop. On the other hand, AJAX development mixes up design and breaks all mark-up and logic. So it is hard for programmers to design and develop complicated applications. A key solution to this problem is to make use of external JavaScript files and then reference them within the DOM.

AJAX System Examples:

There are multiple examples of AJAX in web development, and some of them are below:

  • Retrieves data from a TXT file, and forms simple XMLHttpRequest
  • Helps to load an XML file by creating an XMLHttpRequest to recover data from XML file
  • Retrieves header information of a file
  • Helpful to recover specific header information
  • Clarify how a web server communicates with a web page while a user typed different characters in an input
  • Retrieves data from the database
  • The example of AJAX with the callback function to fetch the server’s response and then populate it back to the DOM.

Common AJAX Applications:

Google Maps, Social Media Newsfeed, and Google suggests are two examples of new generation web applications. The world’s famous search service leaders invested a lot in the development of AJAX. They recently introduced programs like Gmail beta, Orkut, and Google groups, which are AJAX applications.  However, many companies are following this technique as an Amazon search engine and photo sharing sites. Microsoft has also implemented the window live messenger and windows live mail AJAX supporting programs.

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