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What is AJAX?

Ajax is not a programming language or a tool, but a concept. Ajax is a client-side script that communicates to and from a server/database without the need for a postback or a complete page refresh. The best definition I’ve read for Ajax is “the method of exchanging data with a server, and updating parts of a web page - without reloading the entire page.” Ajax itself is mostly a generic term for various JavaScript techniques used to connect to a web server dynamically without necessarily loading multiple pages. In a more narrowly-defined sense, it refers to the use of XmlHttpRequest objects to interact with a web server dynamically via JavaScript.

There are 4 main benefits of using Ajax in web applications:

  1. Callbacks: Ajax is used to perform a callback, making a quick round trip to and from the server to retrieve and/or save data without posting the entire page back to the server. By not performing a full postback and sending all form data to the server, network utilization is minimized and quicker operations occur. In sites and locations with restricted bandwidth, this can greatly improve network performance. Most of the time, the data being sent to and from the server is minimal. By using callbacks, the server is not required to process all form elements. By sending only the necessary data, there is limited processing on the server. There is no need to process all form elements, process the ViewState, send images back to the client, or send a full page back to the client.
  2. Making Asynchronous Calls: Ajax allows you to make asynchronous calls to a web server. This allows the client browser to avoid waiting for all data to arrive before allowing the user to act once more.
  3. User-Friendly: Because a page postback is being eliminated, Ajax enabled applications will always be more responsive, faster and more user-friendly.
  4. Increased Speed: The main purpose of Ajax is to improve the speed, performance and usability of a web application. A great example of Ajax is the movie rating feature on Netflix. The user rates a movie and their personal rating for that movie will be saved to their database without waiting for the page to refresh or reload. These movie ratings are being saved to their database without posting the entire page back to the server.
  • AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is a new technique for creating better, faster, and more interactive web applications with the help of XML, HTML, CSS, and Java Script.
  • Ajax uses XHTML for content, CSS for presentation, along with Document Object Model and JavaScript for dynamic content display.
  • Conventional web applications transmit information to and from the sever using synchronous requests. It means you fill out a form, hit submit, and get directed to a new page with new information from the server.
  • With AJAX, when you hit submit, JavaScript will make a request to the server, interpret the results, and update the current screen. In the purest sense, the user would never know that anything was even transmitted to the server.
  • XML is commonly used as the format for receiving server data, although any format, including plain text, can be used.
  • AJAX is a web browser technology independent of web server software.
  • A user can continue to use the application while the client program requests information from the server in the background.
  • Intuitive and natural user interaction. Clicking is not required, mouse movement is a sufficient event trigger.
  • Data-driven as opposed to page-driven.

Source - http://www.seguetech.com/node/398, http://www.tutorialspoint.com/ajax/what_is_ajax.htm

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