Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A very readable discussion of AJAX frameworks

Modern web development ("web 2.0") is about creating applications like Gmail that combine the performance of a traditional application with the advantages of distributed code and server-side data storage. This is the kind of product we were trying to create in the 1990s, when we were beat up by the death throes of client-side Java. Those were dark days, but XMLHttpRequest [1] and a slightly more stable version of JavaScript [2] have enabled 21st century vendors to produce some very interest web apps. The next step was to create collections of functional code fragments (Frameworks) to support building new products; these are called AJAX Frameworks.

Dr. Dobb's has a very nice summary of modern AJAX frameworks that can be read by anyone who's every put an HTML page together. The authors ended up choosing a free Yahoo framework, but in part this was due to some requirements that excluded Google's (also free) AJAX framework from consideration. I liked the discussion of JavaScript compression, in part because I made a minor contribution to our engineer's adoption of html compression back before that was routinely done ....
Dr. Dobb's | AJAX: Selecting the Framework that Fits | May 1, 2007

...The smaller the footprint of the framework used, the less likely performance degradation occurs. The total compressed JavaScript file sizes required by YUI (22K) and Prototype (32K) are significantly smaller than the single custom Dojo JavaScript file, which is about 200K. All three libraries performed well with a high-speed connection; however, the YUI and Prototype/Scriptaculous prototypes performed faster with 56K dial-up connections...
It's a quick read, and it's a remarkable one-stop view of commercial web development.

[1] Wikipedia: "The XMLHttpRequest concept was originally developed by Microsoft as part of Outlook Web Access 2000." It pains me to confess that Microsoft actually added value to the Internet, but I think this was in the days before Ballmer killed IE development in order to keep the Microsoft Office franchise intact.

[2] Sigh. Microsoft helped there too with ECMAScript. When they have competition they're not all bad, shame that they always kill the competition.

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