Archive for August, 2009

What is Ajax (and what is it not)? Part 1 of 3

Posted in Accessibility, Ajax / Scripting, Resources, Web Standards

AjaxLately I’ve noticed a huge variance in the usage of the term Ajax. So I’ve decided to take some time to explore the topic and share my findings in a few blog posts. In this first post, I’d like to share some info from the original blog post that defined and popularized the new interaction design approach. I’ll include some historical details, various definitions, and even a few technical bits and pieces thrown in for good measure.

In the next post, I’m going to create a development sandbox to jump in and have fun implementing some popular examples in a controlled environment. I’m hoping to create a repository for my own future use as well as document competency in this area of web development. I’m not planning to reinvent the wheel here… there are a ton of great resources already available. I’m going to poke around and see what’s out there and then put together my own simple demos. Admittedly, some of the demos will be true Ajax (according to the original definition) and some will follow the more general purpose definition which I’ll call “animation effects” created with a combination of JavaScript, CSS, and other technologies. There are some great JavaScript frameworks, such as jQuery, Prototype, YUI, and Dojo, that dramatically simplify Ajax (and pseudo-Ajax) development. I’ll include a variety of examples using some of those frameworks as well.

In the last post, I’d like to explore the topic of Ajax accessibility. Is it true that Ajax creates websites that can’t be accessed by people with disabilities? Does Ajax hurt your website’s search engine ranking? Can Ajax be implemented in an accessible way? I’m not completely sure, but I’m hoping to find out! The Web Accessibility Initiative has created a development suite called Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) to help with accessible Ajax solutions. I’m really excited about ARIA’s possibilities, so I’ll spend some time exploring it as well.
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