AJAX: It's frames all over again

Ajaxian: “However, does it make sense to click on a category, see a “loading”message, and then re-render in the same page? I don’t really think so. “



This is just the 2006 version of frames, with all the problems that frames get you: Loss of the address bar, and loss of search engine visibility. In one app I’m building, I scaled back my use of Ajax, so distinct objects (products in a shop is a good example) has separate URLs.



Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. And adding a separate permalink mechanism doesn’t solve the problem, either, because now you have to learn a new way to produce a link for each site you visit, instead of the tried-and-true way. And there’s no keyboard shortcut. With the address bar, Cmd-L, Cmd-A, Cmd-C, Cmd-TAB, Cmd-V copies and pastes the URL into another application, and is already firmly entrenched in my tactile memory.

Easter

5 comments

Jarkko Laine

Ditto. I think the applicability of AJAX for a given action is actually pretty easy to grasp, albeit maybe a bit harder to put in words. I'll try anyway: If there's ever a chance of needing to link directly to an action, don't use AJAX. Your reasons explain it well. Another rule I just made up is that AJAX is a pretty good substitute for actions where you should use POST (i.e. form posts), but not for normal GET requests. This doesn't probably apply universally but seems like a simple rule of thumb. This leads back to the linking issue, since you can't pass around links for POST requests anyway.
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Hamilton Chua

It did not occur to me until you mentioned it in this particular situation but I agree, it's not a panacea. In some cases though it pays to do ajax, on a recent project I got Yahoo's UI library (http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/index.html) and used the tree widget to represent folders in File Storage (OpenACS). Ajax allowed me to mimic to some extent (not totally) the user's experience with windows explorer which in my beleif is an improvement from the one page one folder view file storage currently has. Also what about admin interfaces with ajax where search engine optimization does not matter. If you still remember dotLRN, you had to (and still have to) click so many times before you got a portlet in the location you wanted. Would be nice if an admin can move portlets around like this ... WARNING ... shameless plug follows ... http://www.solutiongrove.com/mashups/ :-)
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Hamilton Chua

oops the correct url is .. http://www.solutiongrove.com/mashup/
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Robin Benson

What percentage of the target audience bookmark a single product or image during their web-surfing? In this age of "always on", compare with just leaving a window/tab open, as most purchases are made according to price and convenience (i.e. if a book is $1 cheaper but you need to front up tomorrow at 11AM to get the discount, only a small percentage of the market will bother - people want what they want, when they want). But there are - of course - exceptions. Oh - BTW - I am not a fan of frames ;O)
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Think about how many web sites have the "email this page to a friend" feature. You want people to send links to product pages to their friends, to check out and buy.
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