Learning JavaScript + AJAX

It’s the second day of the four day training. A lot of things were covered:

  • Modern Web UI including progressive enhancement, accessibility, and design.
  • Applying Spring JS, an abstraction around other AJAX toolkit. The coverage includes AJAX events, client side validation, and rich widgets.
  • Working directly with Dojo Toolkit, including DOM scripting and Dojo widgets (Dijit).

The progressive enhancement is a great concept. The basic idea is to have your web pages start with plain HTML and then “decorates” them with richer L&F and more interaction on the fly. The key benefit is better compatibilities with different browsers which all support HTML but not necessarily JavaScript. When JavaScript is supported by the browser, the pages are enhanced by the embedded JavaScript; when not, the pages just render well as normal HTML.

I didn’t pay much attention to the JavaScript and AJAX even though I followed through the class and the labs. Why?

First of all, I don’t see much future of JavaScript and AJAX. They are all cool technologies but too complicated for the purpose to build rich Internet applications. For one thing, I don’t know how to use them without having a very similar sample on my side.

To make AJAX work, you have to be able to edit all sorts of XMLs, CSSs, JSPs with some magic tags with zero clue in the first place. You also have to know how to use tools like Spring JS, and Dojo for example. Things might be better if the integration with GWT is done. For people don’t know GWT yet, it is a tool that allows you to program in Java AWT but get JavaScript.

Secondly, I don’t see myself coding with JavaScript or AJAX any time soon or ever. Whatever details learnt will soon be forgotten. My brain is like RAM, and the tutorial is like a hard disk. RAM is limited in size, so is my brain. As long as I know where to load the information when I have to, I am good.

Last, but not the least, I have other choices like Adobe Flex, Sun JavaFX, Microsoft SilverLight. The Flex is based on the Adobe’s Flash technology. You can develop your client side application and package it as a .swf file downloadable to the client side. With their Flex Builder IDE, it’s pretty straight-forward to develop a nice front end in a similar way as a standalone application. Due to its huge success, Sun came up with JavaFX and Microsoft with SilverLight (). By the way, I don’t think JavaFX has a bright future because Sun doesn’t seem to have enough expertise on client side.

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