Thursday, June 22, 2006

Slimming down Ajax

Ajax is an impressive technology--both in appearance and potential. Already, it's infiltrated the web in Gmail, Flickr, meebo, Writely, and thousands of other sites that use a combination of Javascript and XML to dynamically refresh page components.

However, that combination, specifically the XML, provides a major drawback to Ajax applications. Each broswer--IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc--parse XML differently. Thus, Ajax-coded webpages need a large amount of browser-specific code to make it work. The program becomes larger and consequently slower on the net. That's bad.

So how can it be fixed? How can we make Ajax work the same on every browser. Webmonkey reports one idea, called Fjax, that uses Flash to parse the XML and thus remove all browser-specific code forking. The result is a much smaller and more streamlined program--all of the XML parsing, for every browser, is done in less than 4Kilobytes. When was the last time you saw something less than 4K?

Already, Ajax provides much of the functionality as desktop programs. Maybe with technologies such as Fjax, we'll start seeing the same speed.

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