A reader from Omaha, NE writes:
What are your thoughts on this whole Ajax phenomenon in webapp development?
That’s a great question. It’s almost like I wanted to answer that question and fabricated the query just to set up the situation.
I am totally 100% supportive of Ajax as an idea. I think we’ve been yearning for better interactivity on the web almost since it began. I think it was around 10 years ago that Macromedia shipped a Netscape plugin for Director and I thought we’d get the kind of interactivity we wanted. Of course, it wasn’t open and didn’t catch on until it became Flash and we finally got to play Dress Up Steve Jobs in our browsers. I had high hopes for client-side Java until I used it. And even then, I thought that it would eventually cease to be annoyingly slow. Then I started to code in it and realized that it was too heavyweight of a solution — we needed something simple on the order of HTML.
Now is the part where I propose a solution. Two, actually. First, what the hell ever happened to web services? I was so excited about those and they never really showed up. The best aspect of web services in my mind, was that you could write a rich client app in whatever language and platform you wanted, and use XML to communicate back to an HTTP server for data. So simple! I can use server-side tools for what they excel at (business logic) and client-side tools for what they excel at (user experience). I wonder what Google Maps would be like if it was done this way.