Ajax builds on common web skills to enable developers to create Web 2.0-style applications quickly and without back-end infrastructure changes
What is it?
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Where did it originate?
In 2005, Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path published Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications, which explained how standard web technologies could enable the user's interaction with the application to happen asynchronously, independent of communication with the server.
The OpenAjax Alliance began early in 2006. Founder members included BEA Systems, Borland, the Dojo Foundation, the Eclipse Foundation, Google, Mozilla, Novell, Openwave Systems, Oracle, Red Hat, Yahoo!, Zend and Zimbra. Microsoft, Adobe, Sun and Cisco joined later.
What's it for?
Several of these toolkits can be used to add Ajax controls to existing applications without ever having to get to grips with the nuts and bolts of Ajax development. But the OpenAjax Alliance says, "Most Ajax applications leverage an Ajax framework but still require some level of customisation by the development team."
Many Ajax frameworks provide support for collaborative and composite applications (mashups).
OpenAjax conformance will mean frameworks remain interoperable, and users can change vendors easily.
What makes it special?
Ajax frameworks enable developers to create Web 2.0-style applications quickly and without back-end infrastructure changes, keeping both end-users and IT management happy. Critics say Ajax breaks some fundamental web and application architecture principles, and increases the vulnerability of web applications.
How difficult is it to master?
What's coming up?
No dominant Ajax toolkit has yet emerged. A survey of practising Ajax developers showed they overwhelmingly preferred open source to commercial offerings.
Rates of pay
Ajax is rapidly becoming a standard requirement for web developers. Experienced Ajax developers can expect premium rates.
Most frameworks come with their own tutorials. A number of training companies offer Ajax for the usual commercial rates - £1,050-plus for a three-day course.