Click here to close now.

Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Elizabeth White, Linda Thayer, Ming-Tao Yang, Adrian Bridgwater, Peter Silva

Related Topics: AJAX & REA

AJAX & REA: Article

What Is AJAX?

AJAX isn't a technology, or a language, and there's no recipe to implement it

(October 7, 2005) - AJAX isn't a technology, or a language, and there's no recipe to implement it; it's just a combination of various components to achieve something you otherwise couldn't: asynchronous http requests. However, since early 2005, when Google and Flickr popularized the concept, its use has grown rapidly.

The name AJAX is short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It uses the JavaScript XMLHttpRequest function to create a tunnel from the client's browser to the server and transmit information back and forth without having to refresh the page. The data travels in XML format because it transmits complex data types over clear text.

AJAX uses XHTML for the data presentation of the view layer, DOM, short for Document Object Model, which dynamically manipulates the presentation, XML for data exchange, and XMLHttpRequest as the exchange engine that ties everything together.

Because of these requirements, AJAX works on I.E. 5.0+, Mozilla 1.0+, Firefox 1.0+, Netscape 7.0+, and Apple added it to Safari 1.2+.

Traditional HTML sends a request to the server, which processes it and either returns a static HTML page or dispatches the request to some scripting language such as ColdFusion, which creates and returns an HTML page for the browser to render. When this method has to retrieve new data from the server it has to repost and reload another HTML file. In many cases perhaps only a small portion of the returned HTML code varies and the shell itself remains the same resulting in huge overhead because the data has to be downloaded every time.

Some classic examples of applications that would benefit from AJAX are searching for information and displaying it back in a table, related select dropdowns, or checking if a user exists before submitting an entire form.

As we can see, AJAX offers many advantages over traditional HTML applications, but we shouldn't overestimate it. Because the data is JavaScript-driven, one of the main drawbacks is that search engines won't index any of the dynamically generated content. It's definitely not SEO-friendly.

People familiar with MVC will have a better grasp of the concept. Though details of MVC are outside of the scope of this article, the three defined components are Model, View, and Controller. The controller mediates between the data model and the view. It responds to events, which are usually actions by users, and changes the view or model as appropriate. The view consists of the HTML. JavaScript reacts to events triggered by the user and alters the existing rendered content with DOM. ColdFusion will be our model layer and can consist of one or more files.

Building an AJAX platform or engine from scratch can be a difficult and lengthy procedure. There are many AJAX engines available for download and you're welcome to use any of them. The only difference between implementations will be the data encoding, transmission, and decoding methods. The views and models of the MVC will be the same. My examples will be based on CFAJAX, a community-driven Open Source project. One of the problems with CFAJAX is its poor documentation. There is no manual or even a complete FAQ. So I will explain how to set it up step-by-step and work around its downside.

To use AJAX you'll need to really know JavaScript and DOM. But by the end of this article you'll be able to set up AJAX, a ColdFusion model, make basic calls, and exchange simple data. As the applications grow and become more complex, the AJAX engine will remain the same, and the CF model will have more functions, but your JavaScript will have to manipulate more and more objects and that's where it's really at.

Enough chatter, let me show you how it works.

First, go to www.indiankey.com/cfajax/project.asp and download cfajax.1.2.zip (see AjaxCFC for an improved framework). This file contains the core engine, some utilities, and some examples. Let's set up a folder in your Web root or whatever accessible folder you like called 'ajax.' Put the 'core' folder located in the cfajax zip file inside your 'ajax' folder. There are only two important files in this folder: 'engine.js' and 'cfajax.cfm.'

The engine.js contains the whole AJAX object that we'll use as our tunnel and cfajax.cfm has some basic functions that your ColdFusion model will have to include to decode the AJAX packet. Other files, not so core anymore, are 'util.js.' which contains a series of DOM functions to facilitate HTML manipulation when the server response is received, 'rico.js,' used for a built-in accordion example, and 'settings.js,' which aren't really settings, only the location of your ColdFusion model and an error-handler function. The only reason why this file exists is to hide the location of your ColdFusion file should someone open and view the source of your HTML file, which in my opinion is counter-productive because you have to edit this file and add a location variable every time you want to use AJAX with different models. The security should be built into the ColdFusion file.

Some people will claim that they can provide you with AJAX functionality without writing a single line of JavaScript; I disagree. Although you could use ColdFusion libraries to generate JavaScript, the results will be limited to the functionality provided. AJAX means asynchronous JavaScript and XML, not ColdFusion. So if you want to use AJAX effectively and provide solutions to new problems, you should learn JavaScript.

Now that we have our CFAJAX in place, let's create an index.cfm file and a model.cfm file in your ajax folder. For larger applications I would store the views in a 'views' folder and models in a 'models' folder, but I digress. Shall we concentrate on the basic example?

Open index.cfm and include the 'core/engine.js' file. Then create a 'getGreetings' and 'getGreetings_result' function. We'll call getGreetings onLoad for now, and the results function will just alert the response.

The 'engine.js' file creates an object called DWREngine; it means Direct Web Remoting. We will mainly be using a method called '_execute.' Execute takes four or more arguments. The first argument is the ColdFusion model location, then a queryString, a methodName, and a callback function, which is the JavaScript function that will be called when we get a response from the server. Execute also takes some optional arguments. It's not documented, but Execute will take any number of arguments, which will be parameters to be passed to the called method, and they have to be put between the third and fourth argument. I'll show you an example later.

Right now the file looks like this:

Our model.cfm will be extremely simple. All we need to do is include the 'core/cfajax.cfm' file and a getGreetings function:

model.cfm
<cfinclude template="core/cfajax.cfm">
<cffunction name="getGreetings" returntype="string">
  <cfreturn "Today is " & DateFormat(now(),'MMMM DD') & ", Greetings." />
</cffunction>

Well, that was easy; we just finished our first AJAX application.

More Stories By Rob Gonda

Rob Gonda is an industry visionary and thought leader, speaks on emerging technologies conferences nationwide, and combines unique approaches to technology and marketing strategies. As a head of Creative Technologies at Sapient, Gonda is an interactive technical “guru,” who provides the knowledge and experience required to run high-level, multi-channel interactive campaigns that reach millions of consumers. Gonda has more than 15 years of experience in web development and 360 marketing campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, Adobe, Guinness, Toyota, Taco Bell, NBC, and others. His areas of specialty include emerging technologies, marketing strategy, social media, digital out-of-home, mobile, behavioral targeting, and multi-channel synergy. Before joining the strategy and technology leadership teams at Sapient, Gonda was co-founder and chief technical officer at iChameleon, a Hollywood FL-based agency renown for its emerging experiences and creative technology. In addition to his agency work, Gonda the chair for the digital media council at the Advertising Research Foundation, is the former editor-in-chief of the AJAX Developer’s Journal, co-author of “Real-World AJAX: Secrets of the Masters”, a passionate blogger who authors www.takemetoyourleader.com, and contributors to various publications such as Ad Age and Ad Week. He is a frequent figure on the speaker circuit, having presented at conferences from the senate’s CIO emerging technology to SXSW and Omma. Rob’s mission is to develop forward-thinking expertise that will ensure clients are always on par with rapidly changing technologies and maintain its ethos of evolving. You can reach him at rob[at]robgonda[dot]com and read his blog is at http://takemetoyourleader.com

Comments (27) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Swamy 04/21/08 03:57:36 PM EDT

Hi, I need a basic clarification. will Ajax can be implemented in ColdFusion 5 version(on IIS/oracle 9i). If yes, please help me by providing some information like How to setup engine files and how to get it worked in CF5.

karthikeyan Palani 01/20/08 03:21:17 AM EST

Hi Rob,
Thank you for the introduction for ajax with coldfusion .It is very easy to get started.

Hello Ajaxer 09/10/07 10:07:01 PM EDT

did u recognize the Ajax interface as you posted your feedback, or you have no clue what Ajax means?

ajaxer 09/10/07 09:36:31 PM EDT

too bad you didnt use AJAX on this site...

SYS-CON Brazil News Desk 04/06/06 10:25:25 AM EDT

It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999. Enjoy Rob Gonda's highly popular ColdFusion Developer's Journal article on AJAX, the hottest software development of 2005, with plenty more heat promised for 2006.

news desk 02/13/06 08:41:32 PM EST

It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999. Enjoy Rob Gonda's highly popular ColdFusion Developer's Journal article on AJAX, the hottest software development of 2005, with plenty more heat promised for 2006.

Rob Gonda 01/23/06 01:35:58 AM EST

Neither FF or IE will allow cross-domain scripting.

This is a securiry risk, read more here:
http://getahead.ltd.uk/ajax/cross-domain-xhr

There are ways around it like a Server Side proxy, or third party JavaScripts like Ajax Extend (http://ajaxextended.com/)

-Rob

Morgan 01/23/06 01:21:16 AM EST

Ok had a little time to kill and decided I'd give Ajax a try and see what all the hype was about. Downloaded and installed cfAjax folowed install directions step by step. all seemed fine untill I tried to run one of the sample applications. Then I got the following error.

Permission denied to call method xmlhttpRequest.open

I decided to load a full version of ajax and still got same error In looking for an answer I keep seeing the following as the culprit with no real solution.

This error occurs when you try to make requests off-domain.

which in pouring over the code I cant find anywher that the examples are making calls to off-domain. So lets cover the basics..

yes error is same in both ie and moxilla

no I'm not using a local file (ie //file/ajax/example)

no I dont have a firewall running between my work station and my development server

yes both machines are windows running IIS

yes the url has http (ie http://myDevelopmentServer/ajax/examples/text.htm

yes I created a virtual host for ajax in both IIS and my CF Administrator

So I guess that covers it Any help would be great

Robert Blackburn - DevBlog 01/17/06 09:52:59 PM EST

Trackback Added: What Is AJAX?; While I am on the topic of CFDJ articles, there is another one titled What Is AJAX?. This one begins a lot like my earlier p...

Baz Web Development: Ajax, FastCGI, Joomla 12/31/05 05:34:46 AM EST

Trackback Added: Another “What Is Ajax” Introduction; What Is Ajax?
— It’s become very popular lately, even though it’s not exactly new. It’s been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999. Enjoy Rob Gonda’s highly popu...

Rob Gonda 12/24/05 01:51:46 AM EST

Mohan, I am glad I could help; I definitely tried to make the article so easy and straight forward so everyone can get AJAX started. This will be one of the major topics for 2006.

To stay up to date with AJAX, please check my blog (www.robgonda.com) http://www.robgonda.com

Best,

-Rob

mohan 12/23/05 08:20:53 PM EST

i am new to AJAX this is a wonderful article. After seeing this article i am going to implement CFAJAX in our (production) search form.

thank you veryyyyyyyyyy much

regards mohan

Rob Gonda 12/15/05 11:56:06 PM EST

Perhaps, nothing really prevented anyone from using it; Jesse James Garrett just had to come up with the idea/concept. By the way, don't miss Jesse at the Ajax Seminar (www.ajaxseminar.com/)

Rob Gonda 12/14/05 09:25:12 PM EST

It is indeed; AJAX involves combining any server scripting language with client side, hence, JavaScript. I can see how you could probably automate a two related select boxes without writing JavaScript, but certainly not an RIA or Web 2.0 application.

Editor 12/14/05 06:53:44 PM EST

SYS-CON will soon launch a dedicated online AJAX section but it will not be called "AJAX Developer's Journal" or "AJAX Magazine." Thanks and best regards.

P.S. Please stay tuned for SYS-CON's complete educational offerings to be announced soon.

Rob Gonda 12/13/05 10:54:35 PM EST

I just looked at the source code attached to the article, and you're right, it's missing model.cfm.
You may download the complete source code at
http://www.robgonda.com/blog/index.cfm/2005/11/17/CFJD-Article-2

no comment 12/13/05 04:50:31 PM EST

I have cfajax working, but your example model.cfm doesn't do anything. What am I doing wrong?

news desk 12/11/05 08:17:11 PM EST

So What's AJAX? (Part One of Two) It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999.

ajax 12/11/05 05:09:45 PM EST

So What's AJAX? (Part One of Two)
It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999.

So What's AJAX? 12/11/05 05:01:05 PM EST

So What's AJAX? (Part One of Two)
It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999.

CFDJ News Desk 12/11/05 04:41:45 PM EST

So What's AJAX? (Part One of Two) It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999.

Rob Gonda 12/09/05 12:34:48 AM EST

by the way, check out my latest alternative to cfajax. I developed an ajax CFC framework.

check it out at http://www.robgonda.com/blog/projects/ajaxcfc/

Rob 11/26/05 07:06:09 PM EST

For more information please visit http://www.robgonda.com/blog

Rob 11/22/05 11:46:03 PM EST

Just testing this feedback again... Trying to find out exactly what's happening.

ColdFusion Developer's Journal News Desk 10/27/05 09:13:41 PM EDT

So What's AJAX? It's become very popular lately, even though it's not exactly new. It's been possible to use the concept behind AJAX since browsers introduced the XMLHttpRequest function in 1999.

Rob 10/27/05 08:40:25 PM EDT

I already wrote and submitted the second part of the article. It gets more in depth and provides lots of code examples.

Cheers

Rob 10/27/05 08:38:08 PM EDT

Adam, I cannot help you with FB as I really dont use it much. I built my own MVC framework, but I was an active model-glue user. I can help you with MG or MII frameworks if it works for you.

@CloudExpo Stories
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) ap...
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable o...
How do you securely enable access to your applications in AWS without exposing any attack surfaces? The answer is usually very complicated because application environments morph over time in response to growing requirements from your employee base, your partners and your customers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Haseeb Budhani, CEO and Co-founder of Soha, will share five common approaches that DevOps teams follow to secure access to applications deployed in AWS, Azure, etc., and the frict...
With IoT exploding, massive data will transform businesses with opportunities to monetize almost anything that can be measured. In this C-Level Roundtable Discussion at @ThingsExpo, Brendan O’Brien, Aria Systems Co-founder and Chief Evangelist, will lead an expert panel of consultants, thought leaders and practitioners who will look at these new monetization trends, discuss the implications, and detail lessons learned from their collective experience. Finally, the panel will point the way forw...
SOASTA, the leader in performance analytics, today reported record growth of the CloudTest community, exceeding 30,000 registered users of the CloudTest platform in Q1 2015. SOASTA also announced widespread adoption of its Web and mobile testing solutions, with more than 1,600 customers completing more than 285,000 tests using CloudTest during the quarter. This rapid growth shows that DevOps-driven digital businesses are embracing a more continuous approach to testing, and CloudTest is meeting t...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists will discuss how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations m...
of cloud, colocation, managed services and disaster recovery solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. TierPoint, LLC, is a leading national provider of information technology and data center services, including cloud, colocation, disaster recovery and managed IT services, with corporate headquarters in St. Louis, MO. TierPoint was formed through the strategic combination of some of t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vicom Computer Services, Inc., a provider of technology and service solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. They are located at booth #427. Vicom Computer Services, Inc. is a progressive leader in the technology industry for over 30 years. Headquartered in the NY Metropolitan area. Vicom provides products and services based on today’s requirements...
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding bu...
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to off...
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquir...
SYS-CON Media announced today that John Treadway’s blog has exceeded 475,000 page views. John Treadway, Vice President at Cloud Technology Partners, has surpassed 475,000 page views on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, Microservices Journal, and several others. His blog home page at SYS-CON can be found at JohnTreadway.SYS-CON.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Column Technologies, a global technology solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1998, Column Technologies is a leader in application performance and infrastructure management for commercial and federal markets. The company is headquartered in the United States, with a diverse and talented team of more than 350 employees around th...
ProfitBricks has launched its new DevOps Central and REST API, along with support for three multi-cloud libraries and a Python SDK. This, combined with its already existing SOAP API and its new RESTful API, moves ProfitBricks into a position to better serve the DevOps community and provide the ability to automate cloud infrastructure in a multi-cloud world. Following this momentum, ProfitBricks has also introduced several libraries that enable developers to use their favorite language to code ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Blue Box has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Blue Box delivers Private Cloud as a Service (PCaaS) to a worldwide customer base. Built on a technology platform leveraging decades of operational expertise in cloud and distributed systems, Blue Box Cloud is a managed private cloud product available in both hosted and on-prem versions. Each Blue Box ...
SYS-CON Events announced today Sematext Group, Inc., a Brooklyn-based Performance Monitoring and Log Management solution provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), search analytics (S...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
SYS-CON Events announced today Arista Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Arista Networks was founded to deliver software-driven cloud networking solutions for large data center and computing environments. Arista’s award-winning 10/40/100GbE switches redefine scalability, robustness, and price-performance, with over 3,000 customers and more than three million cloud networking ports depl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points...