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Ajax and the Ken Burns Effect 239

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fun-with-code dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IBM DeveloperWorks has an interesting project posted that shows how to design a client-side slide show using the 'Ken Burns Effect.' From the article: 'If the Web 2.0 revolution has one buzzword, it's Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax). [...] Here, you discover how to build XML data sources for Ajax, request XML data from the client, and then dynamically create and animate HTML elements with that XML.'"
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Ajax and the Ken Burns Effect

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  • by crazyjeremy (857410) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:20PM (#15181392) Homepage Journal
    Ken Burns effect from wikipedia:

    "In his documentaries, Burns often gives life to still photographs by slowly zooming-in on subjects of interest and panning from one subject to another. For example, in a photograph of a baseball team, he might slowly pan across the faces of the players and come to a rest on the player the narrator is discussing. ... This technique came to be known as the Ken Burns Effect, even though he did not originate the technique, and has become a staple of documentaries, slide shows, presentations, and even screen savers."

    Ken Burns effect in Ajax: Use good ole DHTML and XML to whip stuff around on your screen. Or as the link says "I animate the images with random slow moves, zooms, and fades to give a pleasing version of the Ken Burns Effect without having to download Macromedia® Flash or any other heavyweight animation tools."

    • The Ken Burns effect? I'd always just thought of it as the cheap way of dealing with a lack of material to work with. I wonder if he's proud that his name has become synonymous with a method of padding out content?
      • Isn't most of what's on TV just padded-out content anyway?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, Ken Burns has a wealth of material to work with, but none of it moves. He scowers the public records, historical accounts, and personal diaries to find these very insightful, personal accounts that really bring to life a time before universal capture of moving images. He scans and pans over static images to create a backdrop for what is essentially a book on tape. He does an excellent job considering the lack of movies and video, but not for lack of material.
      • No, the reason is that the source material (e.g. the photographs) have way more information than can be displayed on a standard def television screen. Panning around a zoomed image is one way to show all the detail that's there.
        • > No, the reason is that the source material (e.g. the photographs) have way more information than can be displayed on a standard def television screen. Panning around a zoomed image is one way to show all the detail that's there.

          Actually, the main reason is that 1) most TV viewers expect to see action rather than still images, and 2) a lot of Ken Burns's material either predates motion pictures OR was never captured on video media. It's common knowledge in the broadcast industry that most viewers a
      • You just reminded me of why I despise Ken Burns. I was about halfway through The Civil War, which I had mostly enjoyed up til then. Then I realized I was watching a hyper-sentimental set of images from a veterans' reunion for the third time. Not the same reunion all three times, of course, but all three sets of images pretty much said the same thing. Then I realized I wasn't watching history, I was watching sentiment porn.

        But this sort of crap plays well with the big corporations that underwrite Burns's p

    • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:10PM (#15181606) Homepage Journal
      It isn't really Ken Burnsy unless there's corny and/or maudlin music playing in the background. Also, the pictures have to be so goddamn sentimental, you want to puke.
    • Ken Burns effect in Ajax: Use good ole DHTML and XML to whip stuff around on your screen. Or as the link says "I animate the images with random slow moves, zooms, and fades to give a pleasing version of the Ken Burns Effect without having to download Macromedia® Flash or any other heavyweight animation tools."

      Great. So now I have to sit through pointless slideshows on web sites instead of pointless Flash animations. That makes things so much better. I think I'll go back to reading books.

      • Ken Burns didn't.
      • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @01:12AM (#15183334) Homepage

        The point of the article isn't to entertain you with a slideshow. It's an intro guide/tutorial to AJAX for developers interested in the technique. Personally, I found the article to be very informative, and a good exercise for learning the basics of AJAX. Now I can go on and implement AJAX in the interface of my real web applications, which are much more complex and have a purpose other than to simply demonstrate how AJAX works.

        It's kinda like when you first start programming you might begin with a simple "hello world" program. That doesn't mean C/Perl/whatever language you're learning is useless just because the hello world application was designed as a simple programming exercise.

        So you can stop complaining everytime AJAX is mentioned. If you're not a web developer, then it might not interest you, but that doesn't make it pointless; you just don't have any use for it. Instead of looking for stupid things to complain about, just skip the article and go read your books or something.

      • Great. So now I have to sit through pointless slideshows on web sites instead of pointless Flash animations. That makes things so much better.

        Actually it does - at least now the pointless slideshow isn't sucking 60% CPU.

    • Unfortunately, without subpixel precision the Ken Burns effect looks too lame.
    • Didn't they do they same thing at the opening credits of the "Cheers" TV show?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:20PM (#15181394)
    It's Exxxcellent.
  • by heinousjay (683506) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:24PM (#15181419) Journal
    The use of AJAX technique in that example is spurious, at best. It's almost sad, really, since that's probably the only reason this article was accepted.
  • by gregmac (629064) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:26PM (#15181427) Homepage
    Yes, AJAX is great. Of course, the XML bit of it gets in the way, it's simpler to just grab the appropriate HTML or Javascript code directly from the server. Why write something that outputs in XML, then write client-side Javascript to re-interpret it and run javascript code or create HTML? XML is just a complication for most tasks.
    • It's probably worth the extra effort and wasted resources just to be able to call the finished product AJAX.
      • In practice, AJAX means Asynchronous JavaScript And XMLHttpRequest. Nothing in the XMLHttpRequest [wikipedia.org] object's interface requires that the retrieved data be XML; it could be in other notations such as CSV or JSON.

      • Only if you specify which AJAX we're talking about. Remember, the one dies before the end of the war and the other soon after (so it's kind of a lose-lose situation). A better name might have been AENEAS (Asynchronous ECMAscrcipt Needing Erratic Access to Server), but what's done is done.
    • Ah but you see, if HTML were used it would be called AJAH, and that doesn't sound anywhere near as buzzy as AJAX. the X(ML) makes the difference!
    • With XML, you can return raw data that can be formatted much more flexibly on the client-side. For instance, I have a search that returns the data in XML. That way, I can update the status section, include the search results, and even zoom to the first result. If it sent back preformatted HTML, I would only be able to update the search results bit.

    • I agree that this example is using xml requests for no reason. The list of images could have been a plain javascript array embeded in a tag in the html page. I think this article has more useful information about how to create slideshow effects using javascript. Although xml requests could be useful for other purposes this is not one of them. One thing that could make them useful for a slideshow is if it consistat of hundreds of images so xml can be used to load the data in chunks.
    • Two reasons :
      1) The data you are using might not live on your server. (You could certainly write server side code to connect to the external server).

      2) The Asyncronous bit. You're moving away from the idea that the server creates and delivers HTML to the idea that a server delivers data and the application renders it - i.e. back towards a client-server architecture. Using the wrong tools, but we don't really have a lot of choice in that.

    • I'm using this technique to animate avatars in the project seen in the sig (that part is not out of Subversion yet). I also tried to avoid XML in the beginning, to avoid overload, for the same reasons as you point out. However, when things start to get more complex, you need to send multiple values and stuff like parameters, and XML is the answer. For really simple stuff, I agree responseText is sufficient. When more starts to get going on, for starters you need to envelop the messages with order/timestamps
    • Yes, AJAX is great. Of course, the XML bit of it gets in the way, it's simpler to just grab the appropriate HTML or Javascript code directly from the server. Why write something that outputs in XML, then write client-side Javascript to re-interpret it and run javascript code or create HTML? XML is just a complication for most tasks.

      For legacy sites, your argument is valid. However, given that HTML is just a rule-breaking XML, I don't quite see what the fuss is about.

      If I'm using AJAX for something useful,
    • With XML, you have a standarized generic output that could be parsed by any number of clients. Thus, the AJAX/javascript browers-based client is just one of many ways to access and display the data. You could also be serving the data to a java Swing app or a MS VB app, and the server wouldn't care. By using XML, you keep everything portable and generic.

      Now, if you are writing somthing to serve your kids' photos to grandma and you know she will only view it on your webpage, then you can get away without u
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:30PM (#15181437) Homepage Journal
    I still definitely refrain from Ajax like hell. The concept of delivering the load to client's computer whereas being subject to limitations of the visitor pc, and the risk of not being able to deliver the content as wanted or even at all, is one too big to take. Processing everything server side, and printing out just plain old HTML formatted result to a client pc, thus bypassing all overzealous anti-virus, privacy, anti-spyware and security software and any limitation the client pc has, is the surest thing to do, dont you think ?
    • I realize that because this is about websites, the dynamic changes slightly, but at some point you have to accept that technology has moved forward. There are industries where that happens much more quickly than in others (3d games come quickly come to mind, where they try and use every bit of performance they can get from all the newest cards), but it happens in all industries. While there are still people with Pentium 2's or older, how far back are you going to support? I think that any computer bought wi
    • Processing everything server side [...] dont you think ?

      No :p
      Available processing power of the client is the same when several clients access the web page.
      Available processing power of the server degrades with the number of clients...

      You must know you're target audience, and send most of the job you can to them (never trusting them), or by your logic, why send HTML, you better render it and send it as an image so that the client don't spend time prossecing all those HTML tags :p

      • This is very true (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:15PM (#15181620) Journal
        IF you are going to take the view that you are not going to rely on the client having certain capabilities when are you going to stop?

        Render the page server side as an image? So you presume the client has image capability?

        I think that for to long we have tried to include everyone. Bending over backwards to support crap browsers with broken functions just to make sure nobody was left behind. Well fuck it. At a given point you must just be able to say, "upgrade or our site won't run".

        If you don't the price is going to be that other people can move ahead and use new technologies while you are stuck with an ever dwindling but always present group of people who still use the same software from a decade ago.

        Ask yourselve if this is normal in the real world.

        Old cars can't run on modern petrol. Yet how many gas stations keep an old pump around for cars from before WW2? Try to get some polaroid film from your average camera store. A lp player from a highstreet electronics store.

        Get the picture? So why on earth are we still worried about people using browsers 2 generations out of date.

        • by honkycat (249849) on Sunday April 23, 2006 @01:22AM (#15183360) Homepage Journal
          I would say that you should generally stop when you've given up enough that your web site is no longer capable of serving its purpose. If you are building a site to share photographs, then there's no real need to handle the case where the user can't render an image because your site will be worthless anyway. If, however, you're a news site with photos alongside articles, then you really ought to take the time to support text-only users.

          Also, you need to separate "backward-compatibility" from "downward-compatibility." The latter is, IMO, the more important of the two. The difference I am getting at is that backward-compatibility concerns a protocol change that breaks or is not supported by older browsers, whereas downward-compatibility concerns an interface capability requirement that can't be worked around by a software upgrade.

          There are users who can't use nifty features for a lot of reasons. Blind users have a hard time with web pages that don't render well in text mode for a screen reader or Braille "display." Users on a handheld device have limited screen area and processing power. I myself often use a text mode browser on a brand new PC before I get X up and running. If your web site can be useful to these people, then it's worth being downward compatible.

          Backward compatibility is, IMO, a bit less of a must-have, but I still would advocate maintaining it unless it's a serious hardship. Not many web sites need or are even improved by these new technologies. There are exceptions, but I find that advanced HTML rendering techniques often make sites *less* usable to me. Arguing "upgrade or die" to support something that's "cool" rather than something that's "useful" seems like a poor policy.

          Your examples of gasoline and Polaroid film fall into this backward-compatibility category. Gasoline is not a great example for this discussion because there is good reason to actively discourage people from using the older more dangerous formulations. Still, pragmatically, at some point there just isn't enough demand for something to warrant continuing to provide it. I think it's worth trying to keep things compatible if you can.

          And I don't know that I've seen many cases of people "bending over backwards" for compatibility. Most places, IMO, don't do nearly enough of it.
        • I call bullshit on SmallFurryCreature's comment.

          Our local CVS pharmacy, on Nahatan Street (which is the "high street" of my population-30,000 U. S. burg) does carry Polaroid film. Two kinds, in fact: Polaroid 600 and Polaroid SX70.

          The last time I checked, the local Best Buy carried not one but two LP turntables... AudioTechnica and Sony if I remember correctly. And our local Radio Shack has LP cartridges. I haven't seen an LP "player" in the flesh, but I get a number of mail-order catalogs that offer functi
    • You avoid it as a developer. I avoid it as an end user. I can barely spectate from a distance on AJAX sites, thanks to my slightly-below-average connection. I'm fairly sure Blogspot's main page uses AJAX for the scrolling list of recent posts, and it maxes out my Celeron D. Digg comment pages take over a minute to load on my computer.
    • I'm not aware of any anti-spyware, virus etc issues with Ajax that wouldn't also impact a normal http get request or other Javascript.

      With Ajax, using it to update a part of a page instead of the whole page, you get less load on both the server, the connection and the client. I like it, in principle. Some effects just aren't possible to do in a usable way if you need to re-generate and transfer the whole page for every little update.

      It certainly has problems, though - it messes with conventional navigatio

      • I'm not aware of any anti-spyware, virus etc issues with Ajax that wouldn't also impact a normal http get request or other Javascript.

        Unless, as is the case in some institutional IT installations, an overzealous proxy or group policy set on the web browser blocks all scripts from executing. What alternate content do you have in your applications' pages' noscript element?

        all in all, I prefer Ajax to abuses of Flash

        So if the user requests audio feedback for specific operations, or I want to make a s

        • You didn't understand the quote you made: the guy said that everywhere AJAX doesn't work, javascript doesn't work either (and we all know that most web applications, AJAX or not, have problems if you don't have javascript/jscript). Of course, places that don't allow javascript, will always have problem with webapps, but it's not an AJAX exclusive problem.

          HTML itself does allow for audio. It's not nice, but you could do it, without flash.

    • In this day and age, there's no reason anybody should be using Netscape 4, or any version of IE below 5.5.

      It is not unacceptable to require users to be able to view CSS2, HTML 4, Javascript 3, and DOM1. These things are all old tech at this point - with well established standards with many years to have evolved, and supported by almost all of the market.

      This isn't even about IE versus NS. You support the standard of those things I said, and your stuff will work on anything that's 6 years old or newer.

      What
      • It is not unacceptable to require users to be able to view CSS2 [which is] supported by almost all of the market.

        Among web user agents that run natively[1] on Microsoft Windows, a beta version of Opera is the only one that provides a reasonably complete implementation of CSS2. The others, including the latest releases of the top two (Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox), fail the Acid2 test. In fact, IE fails much more basic CSS2 tests.

        [1] Here, I define "natively" to exclude cygwin1.dll,

        • While Opera's CSS implementation is rather golden in my opinion (*see rant below*) the Acid2 test doesn't test for compliance of CSS standards. This has been said many many many times.

          I sure wish the webstandards.org guys would place a notice atop the test page, in big red letters, "THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE STANDARDS COMPLIANCE TEST"

          *RANT* I personally suspect alot of supposed Opera breakage is just legend from old versions and poor understanding, or testing of, standards by web designers. It's annoying
    • by Shohat (959481) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:43PM (#15181708) Homepage
      This is why Gmail has an alternative to the Ajax interface , and you can switck to HTML mode , and it just removes the AJAX dependant features :
      * Filter creation
      * Settings (Including Forwarding and POP)
      * Spell checker
      * Keyboard shortcuts
      * Address auto-complete
      (from http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answe r=15049 [google.com])
      Google really sets a fine example here by letting users choose what kind of interface they prefer , even though they could easily just ignore these users, as I personaly dont know anyone that uses this feature . Making a dual interface for AJAX applications on all these fluffy Web2.0 sites is a good idea , specially for mobile/light clients like that 100$ laptop [mit.edu]
      • All those are dependent on AJAX? Wow, I must be really clever, cos I reckon I could do them without.
        • None of those features need AJAX per se, but an AJAX interface enhances their usability, and in the case of auto-complete, is the only real elegant way to implement it.

          I've developed tons of web applications without the use of AJAX too in the past, but I can recognize the potential benefits of an AJAX interface. So rather than dismissing it off hand because it's become fashionable on Slashdot to bash anything Web 2.0-related, I'm learning as much as I can about AJAX so I can implement it in my next projec

    • What risk are you talking about? It's perfectly possible to have fancy Ajax effects that degrade gracefully when the client can't handle them. You don't have to choose between Ajax and backwards compatibility.

      The only risk is if you're a middle manager who isn't going to be doing the actual coding, and you don't know whether your developers are in the 10% who know what they are doing or in the 90% who copy the multitude of bad examples out there. And if you're in that position, I'd say you've already

    • The above got marked as insightful? Jeez. I wish I could write functional websites in plain old HTML. It would make my life a lot easier. But it's rather like saying: "Why do we bother having event loops? What's wrong with simple old single-threaded programming?"
      • Exactly. There seems to be a lot of arrogant, short-sighted web developers on Slashdot who have started a trend of bashing on anything Web 2.0-related. Most of the web services/applications the term describes are of pretty high complexity having taken many years to mature, and many innovative technologies/techniques have thus been developed in the processes of creating these second generation web applications and services. But a lot of Slashdotters can't seem to get over the superficial image of the 'buzzwo

    • >Processing everything server side, and printing out just plain old HTML formatted result to a client pc, thus bypassing all overzealous anti-virus, privacy, anti-spyware and security software and any limitation the client pc has, is the surest thing to do, dont you think ?

      What I like about AJAX is the possiblility for improving content served up by small embedded systems. I have a simple web server on a piece of telco exchange equipment ( running threadX + interniche tcp/ip & webserver ) that can ju
  • Where are the sepia tones, jazz soundtrack, and pedantic voiceover?

    Tom
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:41PM (#15181485)
    Ken Burns effect? What, it takes 10 hours to get through the thing?
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:43PM (#15181491) Homepage Journal
    ...Web 2.0 is a buzzword itself. I've seen an article that showed that many of the "Web 2.0" technologies are largely older technologies that have been renamed and rehyped, this time around, they took hold.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:00PM (#15181558)
    Client-side slide shows are nothing. This is the coolest Ajax UI ever [photobucket.com]. This simple yet Ajax intuitive UI:

    • was built with off-the-shelf, re-usable components
    • was assembled in minutes and required no debugging
    • has a scalable architecture
    • uses well-defined interfaces to separate objects
    • is inherently cross-browser compatible
    • runs on Windows, Linux, and OS X
  • I've used Ajax a bit to develop an enterprise application and it just tends to turn into one big mess (perhaps by my own fault but nevertheless ;) ). Is there a completely object-oriented Ajax library out there because this would significantly improve the usability of ajax.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:25PM (#15181643)
    First, I will say this is a pretty slick piece of work. But the actual rendering (download the example and give it a shot) is nowhere near as smooth as what can be accomplished with an iPhoto slideshow, or with Flash.

    I'd guess this is due to inefficiencies in the browser itself. I've seen similar issues when I've played around with animating multiple text objects (moving, resizing, and changing opacity) in the past.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:34PM (#15181669) Homepage
    Javascript will never get the timing right, and it will look tacky.

    Now here's a good Flash animation. [cartoonnetworkla.com] Try doing that with "Web 2.0".

  • by s4m7 (519684) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:47PM (#15181723) Homepage
    It's tough to show what this looks like in a browser without a movie. So, I took a single snapshot of the show and present it in Figure 6.

    it's tough to show you what this looks like in a browser, when i'm plainly viewing it... WITH A BROWSER?

    wtf?

  • Basically, this guy uses Ajax to download the list of images from the server, then uses DHTML to move them around the page.

    Whoop-dee-do. It's like something that could have been done in 2000.

    This is the stupidest example of Ajax I have ever seen. You use Ajax asynchronously to fetch ocuments on demand in order to reduce page reloads - you don't use it to download a 1kb list of images from the server you will only be using once during that page load.

    Ajax is a useful technology (I use it often), but this

  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @04:16PM (#15181799) Homepage
    I don't get it, why do they fully detail a web cool app without a live demo??

    Are there any examples of this in action?

  • The Ken Burns effect was a term coined by Steve jobs with iphoto was launched. The Pan and Scan effect as it is properly called has well been around long before Ken used it. We just associate it with him because most of his Documentaries are about subjects that had only or mostly still images to use in the show. I am Highly amussed now that a Purly Steveism is not a main stream term. If you can show me a use of Ken Burns Effect prior to iPhoto please link me up.
    • Sorry, thats blatently incorrect. Apple chose to use the term, Apple did not make up the term. I studied film at Hampshire college, where they never ever fail for a moment to remind you that Ken Burns got his start in film there. Over. And. Over.

      That effect was referred to as the Ken Burns effect off and on even then, which was 12 years ago.

      The term "pan and scan" has nothing to do with the ken burns effect. Pan and scan is specifically used in the industry (and solely used, in my experience) to refer to th
  • by Moskie (620227) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @04:30PM (#15181832)
    They're onto something here, but they botch a very important step: what they do with the XML once it's returned. Instead of generating the HTML through Javascript as they do, it makes much more sense to use XML transformations.

    I've taken the dive into Ajax recently to do dynamic in-page searching. For a web-app I develop for my work, on a particular page the user needs to select a client (from the thousands we have in our database). I have a spot on the page where they can provide search criteria for the client they want to select. I perform the search with Ajax, display the results, and the user selects which client they want to pick.

    I've found the the step of displaying the results can be slowest step. At first, I had the Ajax function return a JSON associative array containing the data. I would then loop through it and create the HTML I needed through Javascript (much as they do in the linked example).

    However, if something along the lines of hundreds of records were returned, the client's browser would freeze for a period of time (depending on the performance of the client's machine) while generating that HTML. This became unacceptable.

    The superior way to display the results is with XML transformations. Beleive me, it's a monumental difference, and if you're doing something like I was, you should look into it. Have the Ajax function return XML, then use an XSLT style sheet to transform those results into the HTML you want to display. It's super fast, and worth the trouble.
    • Do you have any tips on making this work well? I started creating a fairly complex web app that used AJAX and XSLT to transform the results, following precisely the logic you present here. Where it ran off the rails for me (no pun intended) was it meant that for any data->presentation cycle, I needed to fetch two XML documents: the REST data and the XSLT transformation. Since both were asynchronous, in order for anything to happen, both requests needed to (a) resolve and (b) be able to combine their resu
  • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @04:43PM (#15181874)
    Everyone Hates Javascript, no one here would ever admit to allowing javascript run on their browsers due to the infinite number of security problems it creates ... or so says nearly everyone who has posted on this website in the last few years.

    We've read this a thousand times in a thousand stories, only fools let javascript operate despite all the incredible things it can do.

    BUT ... rename it as AJAX ... suddenly its all good.

    What a bunch of buzzword suckers you all are.

    AJAX is nothing new, its just a name for using a certain javascript technique.

    • Firstly, I'll say that I'm still disabling it. But people are no longer hating because rather than lame rollovers that could be done in CSS, redoing links so that they work the same as ordinary html but you can't open them in tabs, or scrolling annoying messages in your statusbar, here javascript is actually doing something useful for once.
  • Java always slows things way down, so whenever i get to a site that does have java, i get out and look for an equivalent bit of information at some other site, or if it is a merchant, i don't buy that item.
  • I thought the "Ken Burns Effect" is the effect that popular US history documentaries have on US national archives. Like the Smithsonian giving Viacom's Showtime cable station a monopoly on access to the archives [boingboing.net]. Kinda like burning the public archives, without burning the money it makes a private corporation.
  • does Web 2.0 have to do with Ajax?

    Ajax is nothing special. It's a structured (HTML) document, and it's Javascript to dynamically reload or change parts of it. It's basically an extension to good old Dynamic HTML.

    Web 2.0 is about wishy-washy stuff like the Semantic Web and intelligent agents etc., all things that aren't really technological, but rather castles in the sky. Ajax is the simple application of down-to-earth technology to take static web pages a step further.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @05:42PM (#15182036) Homepage
    This is the animated equivalent of chartjunk. It does not improve a bar chart to make the bars look like Cuisinaire rods instead of rectangles. It does not improve a slide show to move and zoom the pictures in random directions.

    This is a silly demonstration of technology for technology's sake.

  • by caudron (466327) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @09:25PM (#15182733) Homepage
    ...is what happens with al the people who actually need static content to particpate in this supposedly improved New Web Order.

    Think about it from the perspective of a blind man. His screen reader presents the content to him. He makes a choice or otherwise interacts with it. AJAX jumps in and dynamically changes a bit in the middle of the page. Now...how does he know it was changed? Answer? He doesn't. He's excluded by default from this whole "Web 2.0" thing.

    I'm not interested in bringing everyone's experience down to the lowest common denominator, but it's getting kinda bad for people who need 508 compliance [section508.gov] just to be a part of this great new medium.

    If it were some remote corner of the web, I'd keep my mouth shut, but as more sites move to AJAX content, they cease being 508 compliant. And this is a very recent phenomena. Until AJAX (for the most part), the web was essentially static. Changes to a page initiated a postback event and the screen reader was thus informed that a change had occured. Not so anymore.

    This was sort brought to my attention recently as I am redoing a .com (they want it all ASP.NET 2.0-ified) for a fairly large corp and 508 compliance is a pretty big deal...and truthfully it should be. We talk about wheelchair ramps and other physical accomodations, and even computer accessibility, but AJAX is circumventing our current accessibility model.

    We need to either drastically improve the screen reader technology or make ourselves more aware of the poeple we exclude with these "advances".

    Disclaimer: Yes, I know that "Web 2.0" is not directly about AJAX but rather about collaboration, but AJAX is the preferred technology used to implement said collaboration.

    Tom Caudron
    http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]
  • I figure this OpenGL screensaver, iSlideshow [toronto.edu], might be of interest given the topic. It allows you to select a set of images and play them back ken burn's style.

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