AJAX is not a technology itself. Rather it is an approach to application development that usually includes a number of attendant technologies such as:
The XMLHttpRequest is the defining technology of AJAX because it gives a web browser the ability to make dynamic and asynchronous data requests without having to unload and reload a page. This is what allows Web 2.0 apps to have such niceties as pulldown menus, spellcheckers, and live updates that provide a desktop-like feel.
XML is commonly used at the format for transferring data between the server and the client but you aren't limited to XML. You can use preformatted HTML, plain text and JSON and the files can be created dynamically by server-side scripting. You could spend years scouring the web for resources on each of these technologies but if you want to learn AJAX you are better off starting with the online resources that show you how to combine these technologies with the goal of delivering rich Internet applications (RIAs).
AJAX is not particularly difficult to learn and appeals to both experienced programmers and web designers alike but beginners will certainly benefit from the wealth of resources and extremely active community on the web. To help you find them, we've put together this list of the best AJAX resources the Web has to offer. You won't find any incomplete or out-of-date links here, as we've compiled 60 quality AJAX resources and tutorials.
Sometimes, the most time consuming part of learning a new programming language is simply installing a working version of the software. With help from these resources, you'll have AJAX up in no time. You'll first need to pick from a variety of popular AJAX frameworks from Adobe, Google, Microsoft, and other vendors.
ASP .NET AJAX Library -- The ASP.NET AJAX Library is a good choice for those working in a .NET environment.
Kabuki AJAX Toolkit -- Zimbra, known for its Rich Internet Applications (RIA) has made its AJAX toolkit available for use in your own web apps.
RICO -- open source AJAX engine
Once you've installed an AJAX framework it's time to start coding. Here are a few starting points for you.
Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications -- an introductory look at AJAX from the person who coined the name.
AJAX Getting Started -- Mozilla Developer's center's intro to AJAX.
AJAX Made Easy -- build a calculator in AJAX.
AJAX Tutorial -- with get, post, text and XML examples.
Cross-Browser AJAX -- while AJAX will run in any browser, there are differences in implementation that you need to be aware of.
Instant Tutorial -- Get up-to-speed quickly with this beginner's tutorial
Rasmus 30-Second AJAX Tutorial -- Short on time? Try this.
ASP .NET Video Library -- If you are using the ASP.NET AJAX framework, you'll want to return frequently to Microsoft's exhaustive selection of videos, tutorials, and documentation aimed at all technical levels to help you learn ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Web Developer.
Alternate AJAX Techniques (Part I) -- XMLHttp isn't the only way to achieve asynchronous client-server communication.
Guide to Using XMLHttpRequest -- Learn to use XMLHttpRequest with PHP and MySQL.
Drag & Drop Sortable Lists -- Lists can go a long way toward making a web app feel like a real app, and this tutorial demonstrates the right way to implement them.
AJAX File Uploader -- How to build an AJAX-powered component that can upload a file to a server and monitor the progress of a file upload request in real time.
Building a Drag and Drop Shopping Cart with AJAX -- Unsurprisingly some of the first sites to gain Web 2.0 functionality were ecommerce sites. This article shows how to create an interactive shopping experience that allows items to be added to a shopping basket using drag and drop.
AJAX Tutorial with Prototype -- This article shows how to build a zip code verifier.
AJAX for Java Developers: Google Web Toolkit -- Independent software developer, Philip McCarthy, provides a hands-on appoach to creating dynamic web applications entirely in Java (with source code).
AJAX and PHP by Cristian Darie, Bogdan Brinzarea, Filip Cherecheskü-Tosküa, and Mihai Bucica.
AJAX Design Patterns by Michael Mahemoff.
Head Rush AJAX by O'Reilly Media.
Mastering AJAX by Brett McLaughlin of O'Reilly Media.
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