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AJAX? - Web Development Terminology

It's been the hottest buzzword on the block, AJAX, but what does it mean?

Speaking literally, it's an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML, but to a layman that still wouldn't make much sense.

Essentially what this refers to is two technologies ( javascript and xml ) the way in which it is used. Everyone has become accustomed to the fact that if you click a link or submit a form your web page will load to a new page containing information from the action you just took. The web browser redraws the entire page even if just a tiny section needed to change.

AJAX changes this paradigm for the browser. Using AJAX techniques the browser would no longer need to refresh the entire page. It may not seem like a big deal at first, but the technology opens up all new doors as to how a web page can behave. Instead of refreshing the entire page under the old paradigm, a web page can now act more like a desktop application. This allows the programmer and designer more flexibility for user interface.

Simply put, AJAX allows the browser to send data back and forth to the web server without refreshing the page and can do so behind the scenes with or without user input.

There are a few common misconceptions about the term AJAX. Some treat it like a blanket term to describe fancy javascript effects on pages, "Oh, lets add some AJAX to make that fade in and out". This isn't so, AJAX has a much smaller scope with it's meaning constricted down to just the basics. AJAX just means that the browser can send data back and forth while doing other operations.


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