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Will AJAX Threaten Windows Desktop? 476

prostoalex writes "They are not your father's HTML pages anymore. AJAX interfaces are getting more complex and versatile, relieving the user of the necessity to reload the page, and thus are becoming more like your average desktop apps. The catch? AJAX apps work in any browser out there, making the OS layer a bit irrelevant. Will the trend threaten Microsoft desktop near-monopoly? Or are we hearing the story of poorly debugged device drivers again?"
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Will AJAX Threaten Windows Desktop?

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  • Slow pain (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @08:52AM (#13263474) Homepage Journal
    It wont be any enormous instant change. But it will be a very slow methodical one. I notice that many companies are developing more and more web applications rather than buying expensive proprietary software. As companies break free of the proprietary software on their own, they will be more open to alternative OS and hardware solutions. All it takes is one salesman to go in to such a company and win them over.

    AJAX helps because there was a set of desktop applications that could not formerly be made into equivalent web applications, but they now can be. You'll see MS take some losses over the years if the trend continues.
    • Re:Slow pain (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metternich ( 888601 )
      Indeed, There has been talk of the Doom of the Desktop for years, and sure enough there are increasingly many apps that don't require it, but that there will be some big avalanche of abandonment is unlikely.

    • Re:Slow pain (Score:5, Interesting)

      by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:00AM (#13263509)
      I doubt it. AJAX is good for applications that *need* the internet (Google Maps -> streaming map data. GMail -> email). In my opinion they will never really replace pure binaries.
      • Re:Slow pain (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bigman2003 ( 671309 )
        I will admit it, I am a bad programmer.

        One of the main reasons I am a bad programmer, is that I have been one of the people with a 'tool' (standard desktop apps) who has been looking for a place to use it...instead of having a project, and then looking for the tool. I have searched high and low throughout the place where I work for projects to fit what I wanted to do.

        I got tired of writing web apps a few years ago, and I decided that I was going to start writing some desktop apps, and distribute them in th
      • Re:Slow pain (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wild_pointer ( 263802 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:38AM (#13263672)
        AJAX is also good for intranet applications that need to access the companys database for example.

        It much easier to upgrade an AJAX application than a traditional application for 2000 employee computers.

        The IT staff probably loves this trend!
        • It's not really correct to state that AJAX is good for Internet or database (meaning network information) access apps. A better model is that AJAX is good for apps that DON'T require X, Y, or Z, for appropriate values of X,Y,Z.

          Plain old executable client side apps written in C can access network information as well as any AJAX app. But they can also do anything else your client OS allows an app to do. You can have a full-featured, fully interactive user interface, local data storage, high performance, inter
    • Re:Slow pain (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tricorn ( 199664 ) <sep@shout.net> on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:57AM (#13263749) Journal

      The ONLY advantage that something like AJAX has is that most people now have browsers that can support it. Other than that, it is an extremely poor "cross platform" virtual windowing/execution environment - it substitutes one type of incompatible platform (CPU, OS) for another (Web browser). Sure, supposedly Web browsers are supposed to all be conforming to a standard that can be used, but we all know they aren't.

      Web development, especially when doing something like this, is no less expensive, and can easily be much more expensive, than creating a classical application. If you want cross platform, it would make much more sense to do such development to another platform which most people have, which is Java. Web browser or JVM, in either case you need to do an installation of the platform once (or it can be pre-loaded on your machine, of course). Different JVMs should be more compatible than different Web browsers currently are. People who complained that Java was too slow should be absolutely aghast at the speed of AJAX.

      With something like Java Web Start, all of the convenience of just going to a Web page to start your application is there, along with the ability to cache and update applications. You can certainly do anything in Java that you could do in a Web browser, and you can do it a lot faster.

    • I notice that many companies are developing more and more web applications rather than buying expensive proprietary software.

      I see the same thing across my customer base. Private side is probably a little ahead of the gov clients in that regard but they're all moving the same general direction.

      That's a good thing all around in my book. If the apps run in any browser, then the underlying OS is not significant.

      I'm guessing MSFT will counter this trend by binding web applications to client specific AP

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @08:54AM (#13263485) Homepage Journal
    I was under the impression that the answer was a pretty resounding "no". Some things have to be done locally. We had the same discussion about Java, which at least was a general-purpose programming language.
    • by cnettel ( 836611 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:02AM (#13263524)
      Well, pipes are wider and CPUs faster. This enlarges the domain of "stuff you can do in really stupid ways" (that is, relatively thin client for a rich UI).

      Another thing to note is that a full trend towards this, with the logical loss of not only a proprietary operating system, but a general-purpose OS of any kind on the client, could be a far more severe threat to user freedom than any "trusted computing by limiting access to ring 0" scheme...

    • Layers and layers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:27AM (#13263629)
      When I first started programming mincro computers (as they were called then) the program was entered with dip switches, then a bit later there was a computer specific rom that had enough information to operate a front panel and read a tape.

      The along came things like microsoft Basic. The computer would boot into an interactive language environment. If you wanted an operating system, you wrote a program in the language that could do primitive reads of some storage device (paper tape, cassette and later 8" floppy), on that was a larger basic program that would do operating system commands like list the files on the tape/floppy and allow you to copy them.

      then along came DOS. While mini computers (like vax and prime and wang) had had OS's for years these were new to Mini computers. now the computer booted to the OS and if you wanted to program you had to load BASIC or fortran to create a programming environment.

      Then along came the PC. suddenly there was this thing call the BIOS that normalized a lot of hardware kinds to a more uniform hardware API. And there were these device drivers that patched the OS.

      THe OS slowly became more layered in design but that was transparent to the user.

      the next big leap were browsers and quickly JAVA, which were touted as a normalizing layer over the OS to make machines more common at a higher level of abstraction above the OS.

      Everyone thought webapps would rule. Never happened.

      Maybe it was just too soon. Or maybe it's because MS torpedoed JAVA's cross platform success.

      Now were seeing the rise of Javascript and XML. A few years back that would have been a joke. But I guess computers hand interpreters and high speed internet have gotten fast enough now that you can do slick things Google maps. Fast enough for simple common operations like Calendars, editors, spreadsheets and what-not.

      my own feeling is the interface itself is still pretty crude. I'd rather run local apps. On the other hand if I were a corporation I'd probably tell my employees they dont need a faincy calendar or editor they need a siimple one we can maintain on a server.

      So my feeling is that for the most part this is just another layer on a rather large stack of layers. and probably the slowest one yet. It offers little improvement to the user but does simplify maintainence and offers attractive corporate benefits.

      • by Dr. Photo ( 640363 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @10:06AM (#13263803) Journal
        "When I first started programming mincro computers (as they were called then) the program was entered with dip switches, then a bit later there was a computer specific rom that had enough information to operate a front panel and read a tape."

        And I wore an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time...
      • So to finish the thought....

        basically what happens over and over again is that someone keeps trying to add a programming language over the top of all the previous layers of abstraction.

        And then someone else moves the functionality of the programming language into an abstraction layers (e.g. the OS or the browser).

        then someone comes along and implements a programming language that lives over the applications api.

        oroborus.

    • Many things do have to be done "locally", but that depends on just how locally you mean. These days, local networks are reasonably common (if only so that 4 family members' computers can share a network connection), and sticking a web app on one of these computers is certainly technically feasible. The application-as-service idea is a non-starter, but there's still the possibility of having applications that a group member runs for the group.

      Personally, I think that Java didn't get anywhere in this space be
  • No. Any questions?

    After all, why use a web based program when a binary runs several thousand times faster, you can save data on your hard drive a lot easier and there's no lag in downloading or streaming new data for the next web page.

    Sorry everyone, but it's not going to happen.
    • Try saving and accessing a terabyte customer db on your peecee.
      The idea is not that doom IV will be web based.

      • by Tx ( 96709 )
        Try saving and accessing a terabyte customer db on your peecee

        When did that become an "average desktop app"?
        • Applications like this are in vast usage in companies. Besides office applications, editors and browsers they should outnumber most of the other applications.

        • I would consider Google to be an "average desktop app". The main search page may not use AJAX, but Google Suggest [google.com] does, and that looks like it's supposed to replace the main page eventually.
    • by Tx ( 96709 )
      No. Any questions?

      I was just about to post that exact response :). Of course there are areas where AJAX apps have an edge right now, and maybe in the future when we all have gigabit broadband etc etc, those areas will increase.
    • Re:No. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Remind me again which business application needs to run several thousand times faster, needs to have data stored on your local unbacked-up-hard drive, and has so much information that streaming data to the client over 100Mbit causes any appreciable delay?

      You win if you say any graphics design/layout program. You lose if you say almost anything else commonly in use by businesses today.
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pete ( 2228 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:43AM (#13263693)

      It's not Photoshop or heavy-media type applications you should be thinking of, it's the simple end-user-interacts-with-database type applications - where you don't need to have lightning-fast feedback. It's the sort of applications that can work fairly well even as "traditional" web applications - eg. webmail, usenet, flickr, etc.

      Using AJAX-like techniques just opens the gate a bit further and makes it possible for quite a few more types of applications to exist and run on the "web" platform.

      And the thing is that lots of non-computer-geek people really like web applications - they tend to be simpler and easier to use, there are no download/install issues, you can in theory access them from any computer with a network connection and a web browser (ie. just about anywhere), you don't have to worry about managing or backing up your data because it's being looked after by professionals (for what that's worth *grin*)...

      No, webapps in general (and AJAX-type web apps specifically) can't do everything. But they can do a hell of a lot more than you might think.

      • And the thing is that lots of non-computer-geek people really like web applications

        True. This is a case of people only get fat when the availability of food is high. Webapps are fat. Computing power is readily available.

        I personally abhorr the near unanimous adoption of webapps across many industries. Take the insecurity of the world wide web, couple it with the featureware of most browsers, factor in bugs and/or poor design in the underlying OS, and then write Yet Another Translation Layer which wil

      • Even the database stuff is an order of magnitude more difficult to implement on the web than on the desktop. Sure you *can* make a screen that allows you to edit orders (or whatever) add stuff, pop up calendars, automatically restrict drop down lists to appropriate responses (say lists of provinces), or whatever, but with AJAX it takes your programmers ten times as long to do as it does in Java or VB or C# or whatever. So you can use a web app, but at ten times the cost. Deployment certainly is a factor,
    • Re:No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ultranova ( 717540 )

      After all, why use a web based program when a binary runs several thousand times faster, you can save data on your hard drive a lot easier and there's no lag in downloading or streaming new data for the next web page.

      You're making the assumption that the bulk of data handling is going to happen in the web browser (which may be the case in AJAX, I don't know anything about it). This is simply not true.

      For an example, take a look at mldonkey [nongnu.org]. The engine runs as a separate process, and lets the user acce

  • by platypus ( 18156 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @08:59AM (#13263506) Homepage
    Many enterprises are plagued with too many proprietary, non-modular fat clients needed for Customer Care, Service Management, Billing, HR, etc. etc.
    The people on this sometimes have to work with 1-5 apps for one transaction (e.g. Cable Service Customer calls Customer Care about a billing problem for a PPV event, CC maybe agent has to look in one app details of the Customer, in another if there was a know outage, in a third if the money was transfered from the customer, and then maybe open a ticket in a 4th, etc., all while copying&pasting data from one app to the next)
    All that because each of the applications just offers a dumb fat client to access it per default.

    If vendors - which should have no interest in that kind of lock-in - started to offer modern Web GUIs, that would be a step in the right direction.

    Though expect that these Web interface will pop up, and have already, I also know that the underlying interfaces often doesn't lend itself for easy integration with others.

    • Though expect that these Web interface will pop up, and have already, I also know that the underlying interfaces often doesn't lend itself for easy integration with others.

      The neat thing about web-based applications is that you only need one thing to make integration work: a promise that the application interface is as stable as possible. With that, I can make my application integrate with your application simply by firing up curl with the appropriate URL and post and cookie variables. This gets harder if
    • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:19AM (#13263591)
      All that because each of the applications just offers a dumb fat client to access it per default.

      All that you are doing with AJAX is writing the dumb fat client using a different, less capable programming environment than what is used today.

    • The last place I worked at, I regularly used four or five different administration tools that behaved almost as well as "real" desktop apps. Unfortunately, all of them required IE - and the sad part is that only one of them was actually served from IIS.

      Hopefully we see more apps run on all browsers moving forward.
  • ...it might make Microsoft's offerings less relevant. if most tasks people need to do can be done with online office apps at (say) OpenOffice.org, and other online apps from Google and other companies, that could make standalone applications irrelevant if their browser-based replacements are sufficiently compelling.

    Once you can do everything you need to do on your PC without Microsoft, the same way you would with Microsoft (eg, in Safari or Firefox rather than IE, but the same links and buttons), it's much
  • ...I'm guessing Microsoft doesn't fear it as much as you'd like them to. Here' a little [longhornblogs.com] extra [wikipedia.org] reading [wikipedia.org] for you, it should clear things up.
  • Monopoly (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Will the trend threaten Microsoft desktop near-monopoly?

    No, it will strengthen it. According to the article, Microsoft is already creating a proprietary toolkit for AJAX.

    We recognize the need in certain scenarios for browser-based, standards-based stuff and that's where we have ATLAS technology, which is going to simplify the development of AJAX content

    Perhaps they hope their toolkit will become the standard.

    • AFAIK, Atlas is a toolkit directed at the developer. It's server-side parts, connecting to ASP.NET and a collection of client scripts (working in Firefox...) that does the mundane stuff like hiding different ways to create a xmlhttp request and some dom differences.
  • THe increasing bandwidth makes Ajax like applications for speeding up the user experience pretty unnecessary. It will be used for adding possibilities to have distribution free programs (no install means no questions asked, no 1001 configurations to support), but for speeding up it is pretty useless.
    • I think you are wrong. If your server is exactly opposite to you on Earth, you will have to face a (very roughly) 150 ms ping for anything you do. This is only due to the theoretical speed of light in vacuum. Bandwidth might increase, but latency remains as a significant problem for static serving.

      A page roundtrip will be expensive. Downloading the complete set of all data the app will ever need in one static page is also kind of expensive (even with gargantual bandwidth). Sideband data, in one form or anot

    • I think you're missing the point of AJAX: it's not about making things faster, it's about adding features such as:

      Server-push of data (so if something updates server-side, you can push it out to clients).

      No need to refresh the page to commit changes - changes can be sent to the server without the user having to submit the page. This is mostly good because it means the client doesn't have to re-render the entire page. It's also good if your users tend to forget to submit after making changes.

      It can also use
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wootest ( 694923 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:01AM (#13263520)
    The web applications that benefit from AJAX benefit because the experience is snappier, and because it can behave a little more like a desktop application. That's all.

    Making web applications look, feel and work like desktop applications take time and require hard work, and it's mostly useless because the tasks that wouldn't be hurt by being transferred from a desktop application to a web application are few. Programs like The GIMP and Photoshop are near impossible to do as web applications, and that's not because HTML wasn't build for web applications, but because they shouldn't be web applications in the first place.
    • Ruby on Rails [rubyonrails.com] has some easy-to-use AJAX features mixed in for good measure. And Ruby as a language is pretty nifty.

      Scalable Vector Graphics [w3.org], whenever most browsers get around to supporting it (the spec is kind of complex/full-featured), will enable another round of cool stuff. Especially when you consider the XML can be slurped in the background using AJAX

      Now if the browsers would only fix/clean up the mouse and keyboard event model (jscript/ecmascript abstraction layers only help so much) and finish CSS2 s
      • by wootest ( 694923 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @11:31AM (#13264207)
        Good points, but none of them countered my argument. Most things are possible given the right browser plugins or built-in browser support (as XMLHTTPRequest and Javascript themselves are examples of) - I never debated that. I just think that it's insanely stupid to build certain kinds of apps as web applications because their implementation could be better off being built as a desktop application.

        There's another side of this, too. If you have Photoshop or The GIMP or Paint Shop Pro installed, you can, with very few exceptions, snag an image from anywhere, get it into your program, edit it in a familiar environment (including usage of your own filters, shortcuts and what have you), and get it out of there. That's the whole point of desktop applications.

        Web applications work just fine with text and to a lesser degree with file attachments, but making it work gracefully with other kinds of media, including rich text (yes, I know about contentEditable HTML and so on), video, sound and pictures (vector- and pixel-based) *built in* would require a major reworking of the way web developers work with HTML and Javascript. And what are we left with? A sub-optimal clone of desktop applications.

        You say that I could have my drawing app as a web application. I don't *want* my drawing app as a web application. Making everything into a web application is a text book example of having a hammer and everything looking like nails.

        Web applications are neat. (I would recommend everyone and anyone to read http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/location_field [daringfireball.net].) Desktop applications are neat. Moving certain desktop applications to web applications (or vice versa) to gain certain benefits is very neat. I never once contested this. But to *cram* all of one class into the other class for no particular reason, that's just not neat, beneficial or useful.
  • by Freexe ( 717562 ) <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:02AM (#13263525) Homepage
    Maybe Thomas Watson's quote about there only being a market for 5 computers isn't so far off the ball.

    If moving CPU cycles and storage on-line to big company's (compare how fast it takes to search all your emails in gmail and Microsoft outlook, and how much space is available and backed up), then i can see the demand for new, faster PCs for a lot of people to decline.

    When that starts to happen, who needs the newest and latest OS, or even a PC anymore when you can do it on your WiMax enabled pda and opera.

    Things like Ajax only help move this data off the PC on-line and reduce the need for both a OS and PC

    • by cnettel ( 836611 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:11AM (#13263558)
      So, are you going to pipe video uncompressed over these lines? With HD we actually need the same magnitude of computing power that's provided by current CPUs, or custom chips. If we continue to desire higher quality or the same quality with lower bitrates, CPUs are still needed. And, possibly, storage.

      My real reason to be weary of this is another matter -- I want to be able to control and store my own data. If all I have is a browser and any real app requires a server, which I'm not able to run, then that's not a very appealing scenario. Will enough non-geeks appreciate this?

      • SunRays send video over ethernet. They work well. Are we going to send video over modems? no, but overbroadband on LANs, yes. And on WANs, someday.
  • This is why Microsoft had to kill Netscape. They were afraid websites (using Java) would make the OS irrelevant. Now that it's starting to really happen they actually seem to be helping us get to that point (IE7 CSS improvements).
    • No, it isn't. Microsoft had to kill Netscape because they hate to NOT have the majority of users in a particular field, particularly if they feel that area is a growth area or a high margins area.

      It had nothing to do with their belief that web browsers would make the OS irrelevant. If it had, they would've brought that up in the anti-trust case levelled against them in the US. (Well, your honor, we feel that these two industries are absolutely intertwined, and we therefore were not using our monopoly in one
    • Microsoft decided to kill off Netscape long before Java existed.
  • Here is a well written article that explains AJAX well .. it was quite popular in the blogosphere some time ago ...

    http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/ar chives/000385.php [adaptivepath.com]

  • No way (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:12AM (#13263562) Journal
    AJAX doesn't make it easy to develop cross-platform web applications. Look at all the browser incompatibilities in the developing of Gmail and more recently MSN's start.com page.

    We need to re-standarize Javascript or at least make sure all the browsers implement a 100% compatible version. And i don't think that will work since not even HTML is properly rendered by any browser at all.
    • This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately in regard to AJAX. While it is nifty looking and gives things and edge from an end user perspective as a developer you are (in some cases) putting a lot of logic on the client, and most likely setting yourself up for a lot of debugging headaches in the future. In the case of Microsoft and Google they have the resources to cope with this, but for the rest of us... I dunno, maybe I am completely off base, but my experience trying to debug little things
  • Java (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scrotch ( 605605 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:16AM (#13263577)
    They said the same thing about Java, right? Which is faster than web apps (even if you think it's slow compared to C) and has more access to the file system and it's resources.

    The way to make the Desktop unimportant is to have cross-platform applications become the norm. Word processors especially, but also browsers, mail programs, etc. Only when the apps that average folks use every day can be found on every platform will the platform cease to be so crucial.
  • Well, no matter how good browser based applications get those browsers are still going to have to run on an operating system, on a computer somewhere.

    We have also seen how hard it is to ordinary people who are not IT enthusiasts to switch operating systems, especially away from windows.

    I don't think AJAX is a threat to microsoft windows.

    However, the real question is if microsoft sees it as a threat.

    They did years ago when Netscape made similar claims and with far less justification and they took harsh acti
  • Cleaning? (Score:3, Funny)

    by rogabean ( 741411 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:25AM (#13263616)
    I would like to pour some AJAX on my Windows installations... maybe scrub off some of that OS...

    Think AJAX is too harsh to be an effective fdisk?
  • In a word: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Recovering Hater ( 833107 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:27AM (#13263628)
    NO, this isn't going to happen anytime soon. My wife just asked me why someone would want to mix cleaning products and computing, so what do you think ole PHB is gonna say?
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:29AM (#13263637) Homepage
    No. It doesn't matter if something is better or not. What matters is who has the most marketting muscle. We know who, at present, this is. There might be an MS AJAX, but I'm doubting that unless it's successfully patented by them somehow since we see that the whole idea is that it runs anywhere.

    No, we've seen countless "better things" not accepted. I don't think this will be any different.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:32AM (#13263645) Homepage Journal
    Wow, you guys must be really enjoying your high out there. Sure, AJAX is nice, but it's not going to replace desktop apps anytime soon. Note that Flash and Java applets have been available for a long time, and they are actually more flexible than AJAX. Also note that AJAX, contrary to what you may think, does NOT work in all browsers. In many browsers, your experience will still be limited to some text on some page, at best. And people actually _do_ use these browsers.

    As for the people who think that Microsoft is going to get into losses because of this, you should _really_ cut down on your dope. In case you had forgotten, Microsoft has not traditionally been defeated by superior products, and they are actually working on a system of their own for providing a rich user experience through the web (XAML).

    As long as web standards insist on the heavyweight request-response model, they will never achieve the snappiness, responsiveness, and flexibility that can be achieved with proper applications.

    Here's some food for thought: imagine a simple instant messaging program, written in your favorite programming languages. One the connection to your chat party is established, all you need to do is send the text the user types, and wait for incoming text and display it. Now, imagine implementing the same sort of application in an environment where the only possible communication is you making an HTTP request and receiving an XML response.
    • Here's some food for thought: imagine a simple instant messaging program, written in your favorite programming languages. One the connection to your chat party is established, all you need to do is send the text the user types, and wait for incoming text and display it. Now, imagine implementing the same sort of application in an environment where the only possible communication is you making an HTTP request and receiving an XML response.

      You have just described the dominant chatroom software used in Japan

      • Quoth patio11: The question is what it brings to the table that you can't already get from client side apps or java applets. I don't have the answer to that one.

        Phenomenally easy deployment and upgrading. This is a big deal with corporate customers. The company I work for is still stuck supporting 6-year-old versions of thick client apps, just because getting customer IT departments to upgrade is like getting blood out of a stone. No such problems with Web apps, and AJAX makes them sufficiently responsive t
      • ``Anyhow, point being, there is nothing preventing the AJAX model from working for a lot of apps. The question is what it brings to the table that you can't already get from client side apps or java applets. I don't have the answer to that one.''

        I can see what AJAX has to offer over client-side apps and Java. Client-side apps are platform specific, and have to be recompiled (and probably even partially rewritten) for each platform. And they have to be downloaded and installed. Java apps require a rather lar
  • The thing that MS did right was position IE not as a simple web browser but as an application interface, or remote terminal, if you will. The benifits were very thin net, relief from DLL hell, simple GUI design, and an elegant solution to the incompatibilities between version of MS windows. The problems were security due to the fact that most sites that users visit are not trusted applications, but random potentially malicious content and sever incompativility with standards based web sites(HTML 2.0 was r
  • "Any browser"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Have you actually developed something using AJAX? I'm going to guess not if you think it works in "any browser." It probably works in Firefox/Mozilla, good chance it works in IE6, Opera and Safari if you say a few prayers, and anything else is pretty unlikely. Now, you msy say that's most browsers, and it is, but it is not "any browser." There are still people using Netscape 4 for some unknown reason.
    • The people using Netscape 4 are probably still using Windows 98 as well. Maybe NT4 if they're in an office situation. Or maybe Mac OS 9 or some non-free UNIX variant, but those are real outliers these days. And they all have alternatives, even if it's only iCab.

      I suspect there's more people using IE5 than Netscape 4, because if you're using Netscape 4 you at least at some point installed a browser. If you installed a browser once it's at least conceivable you'll install another one.

      If this stuff has problem
  • SAJAX (Score:3, Informative)

    by Psionicist ( 561330 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @09:49AM (#13263711)
    Just to see what the fuzz is all about I created a small AJAX "app" using SAJAX [modernmethod.com], a small AJAX toolkit for an assortment of languages. Here it is: SAJAX + Google Define-test [online.fr]. Kinda fun and very simple to write. I don't see any obvious use for it though except for larger applications such as Google Maps. Most "interactive" contents over HTTP is message boards and such and they don't really benefit from AJAX directly.

  • OpenOffice is pretty darn close to being compatible enough with Microsoft Office, and getting closer all the time. Office has been the reason for Windows' monopoly of the desktop since the revolutionary Word for Windows 2.0 in 1991, and remains the reason to this day due to its entrenchment with files in use and people trained in it.

    The combination of Linux and OpenOffice is already cracking the Windows monopoly, and it is growning to a fissure. AJAX will have nothing to do with it, because Java Swing is

  • AJAX is good for a number of tasks, but not for every task.

    Here are the obvious things it will NOT replace:
    - gaming.
    - heavy computational operations.
    - real photo manipulation programs.
    - anything that requires access to the computer that are beyond the security model of the browser.

    Javascript is slow when dealing with many form elements, or numerous functions at the same time.

    So what is AJAX good for? More efficient and dynamic web content. Now we do not have to reload entire pages when submtting information
  • by Xugumad ( 39311 )
    Why would I want to use a server side application where a client side one would be fine? If I want cross-platform portability, I'd write it in Java. If we're talking about clients onto data held on a central server elsewhere, sure makes sense. Or, I could use X11, that not only works, but is actually designed for this sort of thing!

    On the other hand, word processors. Sure, I'd LOVE to lose the ability to edit documents if there's a network problem. Oh, and are you storing my files locally or remotely?

    Okay,
  • by schvenk ( 466484 ) * on Sunday August 07, 2005 @10:43AM (#13263991) Homepage
    AJAX apps will replace numerous desktop apps, but not because they're better. Vendors distribute products as Web apps because of a distaste for installing things by IT departments. Not requiring an install on every desktop can mean the difference between getting a sale and not. AJAX allows this to be less of a compromise in user experience, which in turn translates to competitive advantage.

    Even in the Web space, AJAX isn't actually better than anything: Flash is arguably a more appropriate rich application platform and can do everything AJAX can. Java is an even better application platform. But I think people got burned by client-side Java when it first appeared and are wary of it now. In addition, turning your Web app into a Flash or Java app requires significant retraining and recoding, while adding some AJAX does not. Thus AJAX is an easier path to a better product in many cases.

    AJAX is also not a silver bullet for application functionality on the Web. For example, an AJAX-based word processor can't directly open and close documents on the user's hard drive. While the solution doesn't have to be local file access, the current state of affairs isn't enough I don't think. Also, Web apps are stuck inside a Web browser, which means limited acces to OS-wide features and unfortunate ties to a UI designed for pages, not apps. These aren't limitations to AJAX only, but to anything confined to a browser window.

    For the promise of AJAX to be realized on a large scale, some things need to happen. Web app frameworks need to incorporate it more. This has already started to happen with Rails, JPSpan, and others, but the integration needs to be tighter and the standard enterprise development environments need to incorporate it. In addition, AJAX permits much more application-like functionality but the Web only natively supports some very basic user interface elements. A standard set of elements, available to everyone with a consistent look and feel, will both make building AJAX apps easier and make for a more consistent, predictable user experience Web-wide.

    Last, it's worth noting that you can do AJAX in earlier browsers than those that support XMLHTTPRequest. It used to be called Remote Scripting, and there's an excellent article on the Apple developer site describing the technique (http://developer.apple.com/internet/webcontent/if rame.html [apple.com]) as well as a library called JSRS that works in v4.0 browsers (http://www.ashleyit.com/rs/jsrs/test.htm [ashleyit.com]).
  • I have been doing web development since 1995. 10 years already! Every day that goes by, the more frustrated I get that HTML/JavaScript has not evolved into something better. Microsoft has been hold things this back with their marketshare and lack of interest in making web development better.

    HTML is too basic for complex web apps. There needs to be more widgets to work with, such as menus and tabs. Something like Mozilla's XUL.

    JavaScript was not designed for complex, large applications. We need a JavaScript
    • Re:I hope not... (Score:5, Informative)

      by aftk2 ( 556992 ) on Sunday August 07, 2005 @12:32PM (#13264541) Homepage Journal
      You know, hordes of Slashdotters might descend upon me for the mere suggestion, but you might try looking at Flash:
      • Many more widgets, interfaces available
      • The user's browser - provided they have the Flash plugin installed, which most do - is irrelevant
      • Reusable, shareable components
      • And, the main reason I thought of Flash in the first place: Actionscript 2 [macromedia.com], which includes strict data typing, class files and structure, etc...

      Flash can be really horrible for a great many things. As a Mac user, I'm unfortunately familiar with its occasionally lagging performance. But it can fit the bill for some things, and I think Macromedia - before they became Adobemedia, of course - were really trying to promote Flash as an application creation tool, rather than just some fancy rich media web plugin. Think about it.

      Oh. And Flash had remoting with XML while the term AJAX was still a gleam in the eye of those folks at Adaptive Path.
  • It's not true that "AJAX apps work in any browser out there." Perhaps the writer meant to say "all the major browsers have versions that support AJAX (XMLHttpRequest)?"

    Most of the web references to AJAX that I've seen correctly point out the importance of checking the browser version, the necessity of testing on many different browsers and versions, and the difficulty of fallback coding if XMLHttpRequest isn't supported. For example, see the AJAX page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX [wikipedia.org].

    This is not to

  • Sure AJAX is cool, but come on! Unless you never run applications that need to use a local file system then, yes, the OS for you will be threatened. As for the remaining 99.9% of us, we'll still need a meaningful file system to work with. Of course you could have all of your file storage stored on a remote server, but again, there always be a number of apps that people won't tolerate that sort of architecture unless bandwidth increases 100x.
  • It is wonder how IT industry hypes things and technologies - ok, it's mabye for cash in from clients, but hey, let's be honest here.

    AJAX is NOTHING particilary new. New is a TREND of creating stylish, clever, user friendly apps in Web. And it is where AJAX comes into play nicely.

    I have a PLEASURE (yeah, for apps there is such word too) to use Gmail or Google Maps. Why? Because it is "user friendly, working app". I don't care how beatiful looks NiceMail (big crap which usually points out user's bad taste to

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