You may know this feeling. You’re at a house party and you go to refill your glas of wine. When you’re back the people you were talking to are gone. You look around and join a new group of people. And they look at each other and go silent.
It’s not your odor or your tipsiness. It’s because you’re late. They were talking of a hot topic, but no one wants to introduce you to it, give you a short summary of what they were talking about. But hey, it’s just a house party. It’s all cool.
Sometimes when I read about new trends on the net I feel like being late to the party. It’s like everybody else already knows what they were talking about, only I am asking questions. Being the geek I am, despite my efforts to dissolve that image, this is something that bugs me. I admit it. It’s less the fact nobody told me about the new hot topic. It’s more like “How could I not see it coming?”. Because of course I did see it coming. I was just not paying attention. If you’re going with the flow on the internet, if you dig really deep into it, then it’s almost impossible to not notice any movement in the developers scene. Still, you may oversee something that’s going to be the next star, especially when you don’t know what it actually is.
Ajax is the new kid on the block. It’s just like that with Ajax: on every blog you read, everybody who is talking about it already seems to know more than you. Some act like they are experts, but don’t look for links in their blog entries. Frankly, some of these experts have no clue what they’re talking about. I told you, it’s just like on a house party.
So what is Ajax? The Amsterdam soccer team? A swiss car? Is it the lesser or the greater Ajax in the Illiad by Homer? Kitchen bleach? Or a fictional company in Mickey Mouse? Ajax may have had many meanings in the past. In future however, it is likely these other meanings of the word will be overheard. At least among web developers, information architects and designers, Ajax serves a different purpose. Ajax is a new hype to be, as more and more big companies are actually adopting the technology. Consequently, blogs are tumbling all over pointing out smart usage of Ajax.
Calling Ajax a technology by itself may be a little bit too much. It’s more a smart combination of existing technologies within a set of robust rules. It is a common pattern in web evolution: While big players like Adobe and Macromedia (or now Adomedia or Macrobe) are spending a lot of time, marketing and financial efforts to establish and tigthen grounds for their proprietary technologies, it is the webs nature of evolution that finally comes up with a solution that actually works, using existing technologies, without a plugin.
You can find some Ajax demos on Mat’s website. If you’re more experience driven than interested in digging in code, go check out Googles Earth- and Moon-map projects or Amazon’s Diamond Search engine.
Technorati search on Ajax
The Amsterdam soccer team
Ajax, a swiss car
Ajax, King of Salamis in ancient Greece
Ajax, a kitchen cleaner containing bleach
Ajax, a fictional company in Mickey Mouse cartoons
Adobe bought Macromedia
Google earth map and satelite pictures
Google moon map
Amazon’s Diamond Search engine