The state of Ajax: past, present and future

Ajax, what it does now and in the future.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

SAN FRANCISCO--Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith, founders of Ajaxian, took the stage at the Google IO conference here Wednesday morning to talk about one of the technologies that has helped define Web 2.0, and is of course their area of expertise: Ajax.

The technology is one of the things that made Gmail stand out among its other Web mail brethren, with messages and an entire in-box that would load and open without turning the entire page blank--a large leap ahead of preexisting Web technologies.

World of Ajax
The Ajaxians talked about a multitude of technologies, from the browser to the plug-ins that go with it. Josh Lowensohn/CNET Networks

While the two mainly discussed design and the nitty gritty of coding, they stressed the ever-changing landscape of Web programming, and what users have begun to expect out of the apps they use. Examples include Google's suggest-as-you-type search box, which has since been implemented on the mobile variants for the iPhone and upcoming Android platform, as well as popular shopping sites like Apple's online store.

They also went into setting up Web applications to work like the desktop applications we're used to. One of the main cases they brought up is when users want to undo something they've done inside of a Web app. Since user data is typically just rewritten right to the server, whoever has designed the app needs to make sure they set up some sort of history file that can be called up in case of disaster.

The solution? A high level of coding that runs through Google's Gears service that does all that data crunching in the background while you go about your business. You can see something similar in place in Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Box.net, which will keep copies and revisions of your files, even if you've changed them hundreds of times.

So what's in store for the future of Ajax? Almaer and Galbraith say it's all about the browsers. One they say is leading the pack is Apple's Safari, which has a handful of new built-in animations and effects to allow for easy UI eye candy, reflections, and rounded corners that require very little coding effort by developers.

Also in the fray is Mozilla, which has a handful of "monkey-themed" initiatives that are trying to add the most popular and powerful codes and make the software be able to run them faster and better. Also mentioned was IE8 with its upcoming standards compliant-promised effort which Microsoft is currently beta testing.