Ajax Timeline

  • Late 1998 / Early 1999 – Microsoft releases IE 5.0 with support for XMLHttpRequest
  • Sometime In Between – Oddpost uses XMLHttpRequest to produce a highly functional webmail client
  • February 2005 – Google releases Google Maps to the world demonstrating cross-platform use of XMLHttpRequest (Google also released Google Groups, Google Suggest, and GMail using the technology around this time)
  • February 18, 2005 – Jesse James Garrett writes, “Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications” on the Adaptive Path website.
  • The world jumps on the bandwagon, seeing how cool Google Maps is, and that it’s not just “google magic” — the name “AJAX” and some simple descriptions of the technology allow lots of people to really grasp what it’s about.
  • Everyone who is doing something like this already starts calling it AJAX, too. (except the google engineers, who apparently just call it “javascript” — how modest, and everyone who still called it “XMLHTTP”)
  • Profit

I’d like to point out that many of the “rich application frameworks” that are out there (many of which are described in my rich application frameworks page) have been at this for a while, working on their technology out of the limelight.

It’s just that several powerful trends have collided, and the naming of the beast has, well, given everyone a focusing point. Naming something like this gives everyone a common frame of reference. Not that “XMLHTTP” wasn’t a good name for the idea, it’s just that, well, it’s not as sexy as AJAX. The naming of the technology, the very prominent use of it in Google Maps, the already-breeding realm of rich application frameworks, well, all of them collided and produced this idea in everyone’s head that Javascript isn’t as bad as we had all thought, and that using “modern” javascript could really produce some highly functional, powerful web applications.

Part of it is that javascript left such a nasty taste in people’s mouths that it was relegated to the, “only use if it you have to” realm. I know that’s where I was, having beat myself over the head with the javascript stick back in the day when Netscape still had >50% marketshare. I think a lot of people are seeing this technology and are realizing that we’ve come a long way since then. Really, for the most part, now you *CAN* have one codepath (for most things), and you don’t have to hack, hack, and more hack your way to getting things working on various browsers. Part of it is that we don’t have to test on Netscape 3.0 anymore, and part of it is that the technology has matured enough to not give everyone headaches.

There’s more to this, for sure, but I think i’m hitting the key points.

Some of this was ‘researched’ at various places around the web, but i found the Wikipedia AJAX article very helpful

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I'm a software engineer in New Orleans interested in making things, growing things, big fast computers, media convergence, and pugs.

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