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Serversided or blindsided?
Author: mikael bergkvist
Published: 4/14/2005 3:03 AM
Category: XML
Summary: Is AJAX helping DHTML - or finishing it off?


Serversides or blindsided?

By Mikael Bergkvist

Lately, I've been visiting places like Google maps, and blogs discussing AJAX, webapps using javascript, the xmlhttp-object and some sort of server backend, where the xmlhttp-object shuffles data back and forth between the app and the server in real-time.
It's particulary impressive when Google maps use it in conjunction with satellite images, and let you zoom in on Googles own headquarter.
- That's very much "big brother" and it generated some buzz in the media because of it.
Thank god they cannot update the images live, only once every six months - but that will probably change too, given time.

Thing is, the interaction between the app and the server is so fast in these cases, and it happens so often, that one cannot help but wonder if there is any real need for anything client side, except for the fetching of xml?
It's not like it's offloading anything with requests made so frequently, and the processes on the server are so 'heavy' that adding some bells and whistles to them would hardly make any difference.

If you wonder what the heck I'm talking about, please visit this site, and choose animations 1-3.

For more information, please visit

These are all done serverside - the only clientside code is the mechanism fetching the pure scriptless xhtml from the server.
These examples are running miopages - I need to mention that, because it means that DHTML can be used on the server for the animations.
It then "broadcasts" the animation as a xml-stream to the webpage, playing the animation live on the webpage as a result.
- To avoid xmlhttp-calls 'stacking up', each new 'frame' is called from the downloaded xhtml itself, so it might run slow or fast, depending on the connection, but it wont stop completely.

Of course it runs in FireFox as well as any other browser that supports the xmlhttp-object, as the upcoming Opera 8 and IE5x.
- Basically, that includes, or will soon include, all modern browsers.

It's a great thing, the xmlhttp-object is very useful, but it's possible it will not rejuvinate DHTML as some expect it to, but that it might infact blindside it, making it obsolete.

Future browsers might support the xmlhttp-object by means that do not require any scripting at all, and if that happens, then everything we associate with Flash and DHTML might be done serverside instead, broadcasted to the browser in real time as an xml-stream.

I know all the arguments against such a thing, but modern AJAX-apps contradicts all these arguments already, and they are still increasingly popular...
- So, it's a distinct possibility.


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