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Deliberating as to whether AJAX is actually a future-proof term

After thinking about my previous post for a second I realised that it is questionable as to whether it is really appropriate to use the term AJAX for many of the new ‘Rich Internet Application’ (RIA) platforms. All this jargon is harmful to the general perception of such technologies due to their inaccessibility to the uninitiated.

So in relatively simple terms an RIA is essentially just a web site transformed into a more complex web application through use of many common application user interface features such as trees, lists, calendar date pickers etc. But AJAX is a term used to describe the technology behind many of the original platforms that provide these rich user interfaces – Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. My problem here is with the XML part of the acronym as many of the newer platforms, to my knowledge ThinWire included, don’t actually directly manipulate XML in the user interface. Or at least its not part of the core functionality of the RIAs mechanism of operating. Sure you might be able to do stuff with XML data within the confines of the platform, but then you can also do stuff with many other data formats too and it would be nonsensical to list all these in an acronym describing the nature of how the RIA actually works.

Of course dropping the AX leaves ‘AJ’ which is not as audibly pleasing a word. AJ also could be prey to a similar fate as the XML in an (unlikely but possible) shift away from JavaScript as a browser language, and additionally a term describing that browser language says little about what it is used for anyway. I am coming round to the idea of calling such things RIA platforms instead to describe any kind of technology which might lie beneath a Rich Internet Application. As there are so many RIA platforms out there with many different modes of operation this seems like the logical solution.

One Comment

  1. ssims says:

    I realised after posting this that many RIA platforms do use XML as a method of pushing data between client and server in the form of a JavaScript XML HttpRequest. However I still believe my point is valid: The issue is that with today’s sophisticated RIA platforms the programmer of the application and the user very rarely directly manipulate the JavaScript itself directly. Therefore the AJAX terminology has little meaning in such circumstances – it is purely a matter of opinion but I believe one need not list the technologies made use of to implement a certain pattern of working – particularly if this is to potentially change or become obsolete.

    To draw a comparison it is a bit like calling an application that uses SQL to talk to a relational database an ‘SQL application’. It would be better termed a database linked application, or simply an application – even though SQL is an established solid standard for communicating with databases.

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