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AJAX development is difficult

Alex Hui
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 28, 2006
Posts: 4
Hello everyone,

I'm a system architect and currently studying to use Ajax in a new project.

Hearing many discussion about Web 2.0. Looks like everyone thinks Ajax is the future of web applications. However I still think Ajax is still not ready.

As we are moving the user interface to the web browser, browser is no longer a document presentation client, but a application user interface rendering client. So, we are actually using HTML + Javascript as a UI modeling language.

However, to be a good development platform, it must have a number of features:
- Standard
- Portable
- Structural
- Code is easy to reuse
- Easy to code (can do simple thing with simple code)
- Easy to debug
- Reasonable development cost

I see Javascript can score a "F" grade in most subjects above. Some are because of historial problem, while others are cause by the lack of a good low-cost programming tools. I wonder what development tools I should use if I want to develop a very complicated AJAX UI(Notepad?). How can I trace my code in a page with 1000+ lines? How can I watch a variable in my code runtime(inserting alert()s?)?

If I have a programmer who don't know Java. He can still build a swing based UI in reasonable time with Eclipse and visual editor. However, if I have a programmer who don't know Javascript. Can he do similar thing with Javascript with notepad and a browser?

IMO, to make Ajax really work, we must first have a development tool that makes Javascript development as easy as writing Java under Eclipse (as least have some code-assist).
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

You haven't researched this subject very well. There are numerous Javascript editors out there that fill your development needs, with the exception of a visual editor because nothing in Javascript should be constructed the way a UI should.

Firefox has numerous wonderful plugins for debugging javascript. A tool I live by is Venkman's Javascript Debugger which lets you step through your javascript as it is being parsed by browser.

Oddly enough a google search on Javascript Debugger has this as the first hit. Obviously, you didn't search google before gathering your opinions.

I'm not saying Ajax is the best thing in the world. Like any technology it has it's place and can be over used and is to an extend overhyped IMHO. But that is neither here nor there with regards to your post. Seems a bit troll'ish to me, but we'll see where this goes.


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Eric Pascarello
author
Rancher

Joined: Nov 08, 2001
Posts: 15376
    
    6

I see Javascript can score a "F" grade in most subjects above. Some are because of historial problem, while others are cause by the lack of a good low-cost programming tools. I wonder what development tools I should use if I want to develop a very complicated AJAX UI(Notepad?). How can I trace my code in a page with 1000+ lines? How can I watch a variable in my code runtime(inserting alert()s?)?


Um, you just need to open your eyes a bit. Download Firefox, install the Firebug extension. It will change the way you look at debugging and spotting errors. Most new IDEs have good support of JavaScript.


If I have a programmer who don't know Java. He can still build a swing based UI in reasonable time with Eclipse and visual editor. However, if I have a programmer who don't know Javascript. Can he do similar thing with Javascript with notepad and a browser?


There are things called toolkits out there that already do this for you. Anything from prototype.js to Dojo, to DWR, to GWT, and so on. Do a search for Ajax toolkits and you will be amazed.


IMO, to make Ajax really work, we must first have a development tool that makes Javascript development as easy as writing Java under Eclipse (as least have some code-assist).


IMHO: You need to understand tha language behind Ajax before you can say anything about it. I could say the say exact thing about coding applets. They are piece of crap because I do not understand how to code them. How can anyone architect a good solution without understanding the engine that is behind it.

Your perception is exactly what a lot of seasoned developers on the server see. They are going into a cary place where unmanaged code is now ruling the world.

I would say pick up a book on the subject. I would say mine (I am biased), read it and understand it. There is more to Ajax than just JavaScript. (But JavaScript is the big part.) Hire someone that knows Ajax, goto a conference, or goto training.

Can you get away with not using Ajax? Yes....

Eric
Alex Hui
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 28, 2006
Posts: 4
Dear everyone,

Thanks for all reply.

Please don't be mistaken I'm a ajax hater. To me Javascript and Ajax is just another way to implement application UI presentation. Anyway this will not replace all server side investment.

My point is, out of my experience, complicated UI development with Javascript is never as straight forward as other languages like swing or VB (and traditional html forms with proper server side control). Most likely developers will have to face many browser specific issues, compatibility issues (different js library won't works well together, or one js component can't be use twice on the same page). Even a small change may take days to make.

Life will be easier if there is a powerful and free Javascript editor that most people are using (like eclipse). Please tell me if you know one.

Glad to see there are some Javascript library the help Ajax development. That's the beginning of code reuse. But why it doesn't comes with its offical documentation? Like every Java API have its own Javadoc?
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30751
    
156

I think a lot of the problem is that we are used to using JavaScript for tiny problems. So we didn't follow much development process and created code that is hard to understand/maintain.

For an AJAX application, it is more important to create code worthy of production. I was very impressed with how Eric's book addressed this.


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61413
    
  67

The book being referred to is Ajax in Action by Dave Crane and Eric.


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