Monday, October 20, 2008

Fast Website Development using AJAX

Some of the most visible and successful information retrieval systems are available through web browsers. Recently Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or AJAX, significantly improved how users interact with web interfaces. The Google maps service is an excellent example of how AJAX improves interaction between users and large amounts of data.

Ajax is a new web approach that marries the benefits of both screen and paged-based approaches. By allowing more sophisticated functionality using easier-to-implement web standards, Ajax is proving a real alternative for creating powerful web applications.

Here are certain features of
AJAX which makes it outstanding and strong contender:

Freedom from the Page Refresh

Typically, when users enter information into an input field on a page-based web application, nothing is done with that information until they press "submit". After they press "submit" the information is sent to the server, a response is returned, notifying the user of success or failure. During this time, which typically changes based on the speed of the connection and the amount of processing being done, the user sits and waits while the page refreshes. While we've found that the actual download time doesn't lead to user frustration all by itself, we have seen that users desire (and expect) immediate response to their queries—reloading a page can result in user confusion. For example, users often find it difficult to recognize pages containing error messages, particularly if they can't see the error messages without scrolling.

Ajax applications, on the other hand, don't need to refresh the entire page to update information on it. Instead, Ajax apps can simply update parts of the page at any time, giving users an instantaneous response to their inputs and queries. This allows users to continually see what they're working on and react to any changes, errors, or updates the interface notifies them of.

Instant field Checking & Saving

One of the most beneficial features that we sometimes take for granted in desktop applications is the capability to instantaneously check the data we type in. In spreadsheet applications, for example, our name entered in a numeric field will instantly produce an error that we can fix immediately.

On the Web, it is easy to check fields on the client side using JavaScript. This produces an immediate effect, and mimics the behavior of a desktop application. However, for security reasons it is necessary to check all fields on the server end as well. Fortunately, Ajax allows that to happen, too.

Single Screen Interface

One of the biggest reasons to use the screen-based approach is the simplicity of a single-screen interface. In User Interface Engineering's reports on Flash, we found that single screen interfaces proved very useful for people, providing several advantages over page-based applications.

One advantage of a single-screen is that users can see the big picture of the application, seeing all of the steps necessary to complete the application. This gives users a clear idea of what is expected of them during a transaction. On a page-based application, they might have to click through several pages without knowing what is ahead of them.

Single-screen interfaces also allow users to modify and change information in the order that they choose. If they want to add their billing information first, for example, they might be able to do that. Or, they might want to go back and change something that they already did. In a single-screen interface this is easy. On the other hand, most page-based approaches force users into a specific sequence.

Relatively Easy to Implement

Most of Ajax's benefits mirror those of sophisticated screen-based applications. However, there is a big hurdle to creating these sophisticated applications: they are full-fledged programming environments that require advanced programming skills and a long-term commitment to proprietary technology. This makes creating interfaces in this way expensive and time-consuming.

Because Ajax applications are built using nothing more than current web standards, they are relatively easy to create. Most web designers familiar with building paged-based apps can migrate an interface to Ajax rather quickly. Also, enterprising Ajax developers have created easy-to-use building blocks that allow developers unfamiliar with the approach to migrate their applications over without having to write code from scratch.

Everyone talks about AJAX. We give you a plan to implement it.

A-1 Technology gives you a jump-start on developing your next application UI project. In 30-45 days we develop a UI strategy plan, come up with a visual design, determine the best AJAX / RIA technology that matches your requirements and back-end, and provide a full implementation plan for optimizing your application UI in the next release.

Contact us for more details by filling the contact form .