Over the past two days, I’ve been reading this great review of the new iPod. It’s taken me a long time to get through it because I’ve been busy relaxing and I got all side-tracked with some AJAX stuff. Anyway, the review is awesome and what I got out of the whole thing, is that if you want a portable video player, keep waiting for the next big thing from Apple. Their video support isn’t great and doesn’t really allow you (for free and simply anyway) to add whatever old videos you have to put on your iPod. Bottom line; if you don’t have an iPod yet and you want one to play your tunage on, go for it. If you have one and want another for videos, this isn’t really what you’re looking for.

     Anyway, my AJAX side-tracking was totally worth it. Basically AJAX is a term used to describe combining a bunch of pre-exising technologies to build interactive web sites that don’t make the user wait as much. Great examples are:

     1) You’re signing up for another site (this is the millionth one now) and then you type in your username and then submit the form and you get the all-too-familliar error: “The username you have selected is already in use.” And then if the web-dev had the time, or is worth their salt, you’re presented with the same form and all the other information is filled in and then you have to pick a new user name. With AJAX though, you can make it so that when the user loses focus on the username field, a javascript calls a different part of a script in the background and then creates another row in the table which gives you that same error message, but you didn’t even have to submit the form to get that response.

     2) You’re on a page and you’re searching for something you type in your search terms and the whole page goes away and then comes back with a new page (headers, footers) and your results. Using AJAX, you can actually make the search query go behind the scenes and then your entire page doesn’t need to be re-built, just the results would be added to your page. Same coolness, less waiting.

     Anyway, the whole thing has made some of my form dilemmas a whole lot easier and way cooler on a user interface level. The one thing I will say is that I don’t get the AJAX libraries that people have put out. For me, if I don’t understand why it’s working than it will just create new problems for me when I’m trying to debug the code (more specifically; debugging javascript in Internet Explorer is a bitch, “Unknown error on line x char x” isn’t helpful, especially when Firefox works perfectly with the same code.)

Author: Ian

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