zulkiply menulis "If anything about current interaction design can be called glamorous, its creating Web applications. After all, when was the last time you heard someone rave about the interaction design of a product that wasnt on the Web? (Okay, besides the iPod.) All the cool, innovative new projects are online.
Despite this, Web interaction designers cant help but feel a little
envious of our colleagues who create desktop software. Desktop
applications have a richness and responsiveness that has seemed out of
reach on the Web. The same simplicity that enabled the Webs rapid
proliferation also creates a gap between the experiences we can provide
and the experiences users can get from a desktop application.
That gap is closing. Take a look at Google Suggest. Watch the way the suggested terms update as you type, almost instantly. Now look at Google Maps.
Zoom in. Use your cursor to grab the map and scroll around a bit.
Again, everything happens almost instantly, with no waiting for pages
Google Suggest and Google Maps are two examples of a new approach to
web applications that we at Adaptive Path have been calling Ajax. The
a fundamental shift in whats possible on the Web.
Ajax isnt a technology. Its really several technologies, each
flourishing in its own right, coming together in powerful new ways.
The classic web application model works like this: Most user actions
in the interface trigger an HTTP request back to a web server. The
server does some processing — retrieving data, crunching numbers,
talking to various legacy systems — and then returns an HTML page to
the client. Its a model adapted from the Webs original use as a
hypertext medium, but as fans of The Elements of User Experience know, what makes the Web good for hypertext doesnt necessarily make it good for software applications.
This approach makes a lot of technical sense, but it doesnt make
for a great user experience. While the server is doing its thing,
whats the user doing? Thats right, waiting. And at every step in a
task, the user waits some more.
Obviously, if we were designing the Web from scratch for
applications, we wouldnt make users wait around. Once an interface is
loaded, why should the user interaction come to a halt every time the
application needs something from the server? In fact, why should the
user see the application go to the server at all?
How Ajax is Different
An Ajax application eliminates the start-stop-start-stop nature of
interaction on the Web by introducing an intermediary — an Ajax engine
— between the user and the server. It seems like adding a layer to the
application would make it less responsive, but the opposite is true.
Instead of loading a webpage, at the start of the session, the
away in a hidden frame. This engine is responsible for both rendering
the interface the user sees and communicating with the server on the
users behalf. The Ajax engine allows the users interaction with the
application to happen asynchronously — independent of communication
with the server. So the user is never staring at a blank browser window
and an hourglass icon, waiting around for the server to do something.
Whos Using Ajax
Google is making a huge investment in developing the Ajax approach.
All of the major products Google has introduced over the last year — Orkut, Gmail, the latest beta version of Google Groups, Google Suggest, and Google Maps
— are Ajax applications. (For more on the technical nuts and bolts of
these Ajax implementations, check out these excellent analyses of Gmail, Google Suggest, and Google Maps.) Others are following suit: many of the features that people love in Flickr depend on Ajax, and Amazons A9.com search engine applies similar techniques.
These projects demonstrate that Ajax is not only technically sound,
but also practical for real-world applications. This isnt another
technology that only works in a laboratory. And Ajax applications can
be any size, from the very simple, single-function Google Suggest to
the very complex and sophisticated Google Maps.
At Adaptive Path, we have been doing our own work with Ajax over the
last several months, and we are realizing we have only scratched the
surface of the rich interaction and responsiveness that Ajax
applications can provide. Ajax is an important development for Web
applications, and its importance is only going to grow. And because
there are so many developers out there who already know how to use
these technologies, we expect to see many more organizations following
Googles lead in reaping the competitive advantage Ajax provides.
The biggest challenges in creating Ajax applications are not
technical. The core Ajax technologies are mature, stable, and well
understood. Instead, the challenges are for the designers of these
applications: to forget what we think we know about the limitations of
the Web, and begin to imagine a wider, richer range of possibilities.
Its going to be fun.
By Jasses James Garette