I got really aggravated by an article I read today and more specifically from the statement "before AJAX". It kind of gave the impression that they were not talking about an acronym but rather an important period in human history (e.g. "Before the fall of Communism") 

It seems to me that everywhere, everyone is talking about AJAX and it's becoming ridiculous. In just 7-8 months the web got cluttered with all kinds of AJAX addicts, Evangelists, "leaders" and people claiming they were doing AJAX even before XmlHttp was in the browser. It's almost like the infamous Web 2.0... Everyone talks about it, but no one knows exactly what it is. Am I wrong in believing that the significance of AJAX is overrated?

As Rumen posted in his blog, AJAX was here a long time ago. Actually, more than people are ready to admit (many people firmly believe that MS cannot innovate and consider AJAX to be a Google invention). The thing is, AJAX is not a panacea. It's a development paradigm that does bring a lot of benefits, yet it does require excellent client scripting skills and that's something that few people have and that few people are likely to have in the short term.

When I say that AJAX is not a panacea, I want to stress that despite the obvious and not so obvious benefits, the successful implementation of an AJAX app is by no means easy:
1. Unless you use a commercial package like r.a.d.callback, you have to write and maintain a lot of complex JavaScript code. Even with r.a.d.callback and the in-built AJAX support in products like r.a.d.grid, r.a.d.combobox, and r.a.d.treeview, it's not easy to create an entirely AJAX-based application. If you are doing something simple, OK. But it's definitely not trivial to bring the desktop functionality to the web. It took us a lot of effort to create the HelpDesk sample. Even there, many things were specifically stitched for our own demo purposes and were in no way "clean" implementations
2. ViewState Management in ASP.NET- one of the most serious issues that is seldom mentioned
3. Challenges in updating only the relevant parts of the page. An AJAX app might avoid page refreshes, yet it may not give you any performance and responsiveness gains if not properly implemented.

I firmly believe that it's all about people - Google, the MSN team and many others are doing a good job not because they accidentally live in the AJAX era but because they employ very talented people. My take is that before the Atlas framework and the products of third-party control vendors like telerik mature (so that they make the AJAX paradigm more "accessible" to a broader audience without strong JavaScript skills) AJAX will be mostly hype and less so a common paradigm.

p.s. a short edit here - one of my colleagues sent me a link to this great post by Rick Strahl (http://west-wind.com/weblog/posts/2725.aspx). You should definitely read it! His post answers my question whether I am the only that's pissed off from so much hype and so little substance.
About the Author

Vassil Terziev

As Chief Innovation Officer at Progress, Vassil Terziev is responsible for identifying growth strategies and new market opportunities, as well as promoting internal innovation.


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