AJAX is a tipping point term

tipping pointJesse James Garrett over at Adaptive Path has coined the term AJAX as a shorthand for Asynchronous JavaScript + XML, which is a technique used in web applications such as gmail, google suggest, google maps, etc. to only load the bits of the page which have changed instead of the whole thing. Nothing to do with Ajax Cape Town.There is a lot of controversy surrounding the term, but most of it boils down to people whining about the fact that AJAX is just a new name for old technology so why is it all so popular now? It’s because AJAX made it easier to communicate the methods used in all the funky new web apps coming out, one word explains something that usually took a few minutes to explain. And the easier something is to communicate, the quicker it reaches its tipping point.It’s why design patterns are so popular. They give software developers a single word to explain common techniques which used to take up a few pages to explain. Unfortunately, the dark side of coining these tipping point terms is that they are often abused by clueless marketers and programmers until they lose some of their true meaning and attain that lovely sheen of bullshit that turns smart people away.That said, I think AJAX is an interesting collection of technology, but I don’t know how practical it is in the real world. Small, well-defined interfaces like the ones Google Labs works on benefit hugely from the enhanced interactivity AJAX provides, but for the sort of large-scale web interfaces I work on which are constantly changing it will just be adding a layer of painful complexity. Besides, when you employ a bunch of rocket scientists like Google does, anything is possible.

2005.04.07