Book Review – Ajax in Action
Publisher: Manning Publications
Published: Oct 2005
|If you are looking for some Ajax code to copy and paste into your webpages, this is not the book for you. But if you are creating Ajax web applications on a large or small scale and need to consider such aspects as design and refactoring, security, speed and system resources, then this book will help answer some of these questions. Although the authors, Dave Crane, Eric Pascarello and Darren James, discuss mostly the client-side of Ajax, their approach for this book is to re-teach web programmers away from the standard/classical webpage and introduce a new way for the server, browser and webpage to work together through Ajax.|
With Ajax, the user does not have that familiar "click and wait" routine as the webpage refreshes to reflect changes. With Ajax, as the information is passed to the server and data is returned to the browser, there is no need to refresh the webpage. Therefore we need new ways to keep the user informed as to the process. A few of the new visual feedback components discussed here are the status bar, pop up dialog and inline highlighting. All of these happen asynchronously.
Many books do not address the topic of security. One thing I liked about this book was that the authors discuss potential security issues when using Ajax and several possible ways to close these security holes. Another area covered was performance issues such as speed and system resources. First you learn ways to monitor the performance of your Ajax application and then how to analyze and improve your code.
The book finishes with five sample projects which are built step-by-step. The first is an Ajax web form. In this project you learn how to use Ajax to link form input fields in such a way as to pre-populate the values (choices) in the form fields. The choice made by the user in one form field causes the values for the second field to be updated as necessary. This can be done without reloading the webpage because the two fields are linked and Ajax does the updating in the background. Next you learn how to create an Ajax type-ahead suggest feature (such as the Google SuggestTM) and ways to possibly improve on this using an object-oriented TextSuggest component. Moving from forms to more advanced user interface features, you will learn how to create an Ajax portal project such as A9.com, an Ajax based live search system and how Ajax can work with external RSS protocol instead of a server.
The authors first walk you through coding these projects and then show you how to refactor each into reusable components. When you have finished, you should have a code library that you can apply to any Ajax web application.
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