|By Vishwas Lele||
|June 1, 2006 11:45 AM EDT||
I have three goals in this article. First, I want to provide a high-level overview of AJAX-style applications. My second goal is to provide a detailed description of asynchronous callback features of ASP.NET 2.0. Finally, I want to provide an insight into upcoming enhancements of tools and frameworks for building AJAX-style applications.
AJAX-style Web applications exhibit the following characteristics:
- Asynchronous requests made to the Web server. The browser user interface is not blocked while waiting for a response from the Web server. The browser can continue to respond to user interaction while awaiting a server response.
- Exchange of nonpresentation XML-based data between the browser and the Web server. The XMLHttp object makes it possible to communicate with the Web server without the need to reload the page.
- The user experience is richer. For example, when a Google map user drags the map in one direction, an asynchronous request is made to the server in the background, to continue to fetch tiles beyond the edge of the screen. This way when the user drags the map further, the new image is readily available. This creates a perception of a speedier response.
- Since the state is not lost across XMLHttp-based calls to the server, AJAX applications can avoid rerendering the UI widgets each time.
- More logic residing in the browser reduces the number of roundtrips to the Web server, thereby improving the overall latency of the system.
Fortunately, the arrival of things such as Atlas, AJAX.NET, and the Google Maps API etc. is a sign of better support for building AJAX-style applications in the future. In the next section, we will look into how the support for building AJAX applications is evolving over time and what to expect from the newly announced toolkits such as Atlas.
In other words, it is possible to have interaction with the Web server in the background without causing a page reload - a side effect of the exchange between the browser and the Web server.
Using the XMLHttp object is straightforward. For the sake of simplicity, let's just consider IE specific syntax. The syntax for XMLHttp implementations on other browsers is similar.
In the code snippet shown above, the first step is to instantiate the Microsoft.XMLHttp class. Next, we set the properties on the XMLHttp instance we just created, including the address of callback function that will get control when the XMLHttp request is complete. The callback function address is needed because we are making asynchronous calls to the server (an intent conveyed by setting the third parameter on the open method call to true). Inside the implementation for the callback function, we make additional checks to make sure that the request is complete.
request = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
request.onreadystatechange = CallbackHandler;
request.open("GET", URL, true);
if ((request.readyState == 4) && (request.status == 200)
string response = request.responseXML;
// Update the relevant sections of the UI
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