the AJAX bandwagon

I digress, but everyone and their brother is jumping on the Ajax bandwagon. Aren’t you?

Alex Bosworth chimes in with some common sense suggestions for
when to and when NOT to use AJAX.

I won’t replicate the list here; that’s what his original post is for, afterall. 😉

Though these suggestions are sure to be quibbled and debated, the point to me seems much more generic: Use tools to improve the user experience only when, and if, it make sense. I’d have to guess that’s the reason for so much “early adoption” and fervor. AJAX seems like the next phase in a movement to fix what’s been “broken” about web transactions for a while.

How do all these new applications compare to the “tried-and-true”? I won’t piss-and-moan about whether anybody has delivered anything truly useful. That’s for others to decide. But the question I keep asking is the simple “did we need that”? When an application delivers a new experience, or attempts to improve an age-old method for accomplishing something, it gets the sniff test. Is it really an improvement, or just different?

It’s encouraging that an awful lot of the AJAX applications I keep seeing are accompanied by equally significant refactoring of the “way we do it”. Under the hood, smart people are solving really practical problems of communication, data-modelling, and data presentation. Design patterns are popping up all over, and a holistic approach to the user experience is coalescing. The future seems bright…

I hope this phase (what I’m tempted to label the “Desktop Publishing Glut” phase) represents a true remodelling of the user experience online, and not just a collection of cool tools for cool tools sake. I suspect, that with all the big-brains out there working the problem, that cool is only the by-product.

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