Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ajax: Pushing the limits of the web architecture

The first time I heard about ajax, it impressed me deeply: to break the monolithic browser/server interaction into this tiny interactions was such a powerful thing. Right away I tried it, loved it and embraced it in the current project that I was managing at that time Peoplecenter ... Today when looking for some books in Amazon I played with their tags system (a nice implementation of folksonomies) or when trying the auto-correct features of the new google toolbar, I was very impressed with the extent to which the web is really changing thanks to ajax. It's obvious that we're abusing the web's architecture and original purpose (isn't that what users always do??) and having to come up with such a complex solution as ajax is, development-wise, is a consequence of this lack of original intent in the browser. The web architecture was not conceived to do what it does today, and was not designed either to do what I suspect it will do tomorrow with Semantic Web, but still, the web platform is an evolutionary path we can't argue with. Most probably we'll be seeing more and more of this patches, work-arounds and evolution of the web as it was originally envisioned, until eventually we'll have to come up with something that has all we love about web as an end result for the user and main platform characteristics but re-engeneered to make sense development-wise as an architecture.
Hopefully in the meantime GeneXus can come up with some more "magic" to allow their users to benefit from ajax without having to deal with the annoying (for most of the mortals) details, like they're already doing with Transactions. I was hoping we see an ajax implementation of the IsValid event in Web Panels soon, although I understand the scope is not minor ...

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