AJAX Toolkits Reviewed
AJAX - What is it?
With the advancement of web technologies, it became evident that web pages with static content were not only resource intensive on server
side due to repeated web requests but also the fact that manual refresh was needed for most of the times creating a tedious user experience.
What it simply implies is that a manual reloading of page is no longer needed, the page gets reloaded asynchronously in background
without any user intervention and also making the page more interactive from user perspective by using these set of technologies.
As with any technology platform, when it needs to be rolled out on a large scale and efficiently, software applications that do most
of the work come in handy, these are popularly referred to as Toolkits. Let's take a look at some of the most common AJAX toolkits:
It is very small in size for downloading and to use it, simply change the source in src attribute to the path where the downloaded jQuery resides.
The above HTML tag src points to the local jquery.js library(can be a link path too) and here is where it is defined after which various
functions can be used based on jquery.
JQuery overall is extremely small in size and works very well on most browsers.
You can download jQuery from here
Using it involves a bit of configuration. Basically a web host from where it can be accessed should be first in place like www.mysite.com/lib/yui
Once the kit is downloaded, ensure that the extracted archive maps to the above location to start using YUI.
YUI as a whole is very rich in functions but needs better documentation.
You can download Yahoo Kit from here
DojoToolKit is one of the easiest and free AJAX toolkits with very good documentation and community.
Using it offers more flexibility as webmasters don't really need to install it if they wish. Ways it can be used is as follows:
- Directly from Google and AOL's content delivery network (CDN).
- The manual local install on server.
- From the nightly build for advanced web masters (this involves getting the latest code from the dojo repository).
You can download Dojo from here
Google Web Toolkit
Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is also completely free and provides a rich set of Java APIs/widgets which can be either used directly or by modifying.
Installing GWT involves downloading and extracting the archive locally on hard disk. A bunch of folders are created with ready to use examples
as a step by step learning process.
The ready to use examples can all be run from within a browser to get a good idea of how the completed AJAX apps will look like if they
are based on these.
GWT is extremely flexible, lightweight and easier to use as well as understand compared to YUI.
You can download Google Web Toolkit from here
This too has a very small footprint and easy to install as well as providing support for browsers on different platforms.
It is used by invoking the in-built functions for calling the library and customizing AJAX applications based on that.
The way it does that is by basically extending the DOM thereby enabling developers to write their own functions as well as define custom classes.
This toolkit has both excellent documentation as well as easy to use libraries.
You can download Prototype from here
Mochikit as with other free popular AJAX toolkits provides extension to DOM thereby enabling custom calls as well as writing custom classes.
It is possible to create advanced animation effects, event handling as well as providing input widgets and form validation with Mochikit
just like the rest but the documentation is not very extensive.
Installation involves extracting the downloaded archive to /lib folder on server and modifiying the <head> section to point to the
path where Mochikit was installed.
The usage of libraries in Mochikit is quite simple though and powerful to incorporate in regular web based applications.
You can download Mochikit from here
MooTools is a compact free AJAX toolkit with very simple and clear in-built calls which makes it easy to use.
Installing just involves downloading the file and putting in the appropriate server path after which the index.html needs to be changed to point to the path where the downloaded file was stored on server.
The examples on developer site are self explanatory and so is the documentation.
You can download MooTools from here
Pyjamas is a clean and robust AJAX toolkit with an extensive user base and easy to read documentation.
Installing involves extracting the downloaded archive and running the startup python script bootstrap.py followed by build out which sets up
the developer sandbox.
You can download Pyjamas from here
As with all the above most commonly used AJAX toolkits, developing full featured AJAX based web pages become easier if you select the
most appropriate type of kit applicable to your own business requirements.
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