This, to most of you, will be one of those no-brainers that won't need explaining. But, as I said on Tuesday, it's my mission to convince you all of how useful Ajax is. So, I need to try and sell it. I like to think I know my readers (although I've not been so sure lately) and that not all of you know everything already. Lots of people need to see what a tool can do for them before they take the effort to learn how to use said tool.
The web is a static kind of place. You ask for a web page. It gets sent to the browser and that's that. If you want any more information from the server you have to send off another request for it. For a user this can become irksome if they have to submit and wait for a form each time the data in the page needs refreshing.
With Ajax we can make the web more dynamic. Based on user input we can fetch fresh data and update the page without the user's knowledge.
The real reason why is like this: This kind of behaviour will fast become the de-facto. Users will soon cotton on to what is possible and start to expect amazing things of you and your applications. Telling them "You can't really do that" will become less and less acceptable. If you don't want to be left behind you need to stay ahead. Learning to embrace technologies like Ajax will definitely help.
As with most things the clincher is in seeing samples of what can be done. You've probably already seen the amazing things Google have been doing, so here's are some more sites using Ajax. A good example is the Live Search at Ripped Tickets. Use the form at the bottom of that page to search for something like "The Felsons". See how the "view" of bands is built as you type. How can you fail to be impressed? Just think how impressed your boss/client would be with something like that!
Let's look at some examples closer to home:
- Julian Robichaux was first off the blocks with a Google Suggest-esque Domino Directory lookup called Notes Suggest. Something you can pretty much put to use straight out of its box.
- Julians' incredibly useful LDDMonkey script also uses Ajax.
- Bob Obringer is working on the "Ultimate Domino View Navigator".
- I've got a work-in-progress that prevents save "conflicts" in a document. Similar to my original demo but now cross-browser.
What will my contributions be? Mainly form-based stuff I expect. Starting with some simple things like an update to my first ever Notes community contribution and half the reason codestore got started. I've got plenty of ideas for using Ajax to improve Domino forms. Maybe we can make them as spiffy as The Form Assembly's.