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July 11, 2006

Ajax Design Patterns: Create Interactive Web Applications using Programming and Usability Patterns

Sebastopol, CA--"People have heard loud and clear that Ajax matters, and equally, that Ajax must be done right," says Michael Mahemoff, author of the new Ajax Design Patterns (O'Reilly, $44.99). "The fundamentals of Ajax are actually fairly straightforward for anyone with a background in web development," he adds. At the same time, he is quick to point out that Ajax is a moving target. "Browsers are evolving quickly, developers are doing more with the web than ever before, and companies like Google continue to find new ways to coerce the web into doing amazing things no one had ever foreseen."

Mahemoff's book is a reference for developers, designers, and managers who want to learn how Ajax is being used in the real world. According to Mahemoff, he began work on the book after he studied a number of early Ajax applications and published an embryonic set of patterns to his blog. "I explained at the time that Ajax is no magic bullet, and that we need to look at how to design effectively and not just use Ajax for the coolness factor," Mahemoff recalls. "The response was overwhelming and led to an approach to crafting that initial seed into a book of Ajax patterns.

The patterns in the book fall into four categories:

  • Foundational Technology patterns: Overview the raw technologies required for Ajax development
  • Programming patterns: Expose techniques developers have been discovering to ensure their Ajax applications are maintainable
  • Functionality and Usability patterns: Describe the types of user interfaces used in Ajax applications, and the new types of functionality that Ajax makes possible
  • Development patterns: Explain the processes being used to monitor, debug, and test Ajax applications
  • Ajax Design Patterns gives readers an understanding of what is possible and what's not with Ajax, and shows them how Ajax is being used in the real world. Technical discussions followed by examples bring readers up to speed with core Ajax technologies, such as XMLHttpRequest, the DOM, and JSON. Readers will also discover the patterns that developers are using to produce high-quality Ajax architectures, streamline performance, and improve usability.

    Aside from observing the amazing rise in Ajax itself, to Mahemoff, it's been fascinating to take a step back and look at how advanced enabling tools and technologies have become. "I first got into patterns in 1997 and the change is remarkable," he says. "First off, the notion of patterns is widely accepted in the software industry, and almost everyone seems to appreciate the need for collecting Ajax patterns. Moreover, it's so much easier to study a broad cross-section of applications now, thanks to the web and related technologies. Not only are web applications accessible at the click of a link, but there are so many of them out there to be studied. A single category, like 'Ajax word-processors' will usually have a dozen examples to consider, leading to rich, broadly applicable, patterns.

    "Furthermore, the combination of blogs, wikis, and podcasts--all simple but exceedingly powerful tools--means that information can be disseminated so much faster than before," he continues. "While writing this book, I was able to publish an idea on my blog or Ajaxian.com, and within a day, it had been scrutinized by the community. Promising design ideas--such as the incredible (at the time) use of auto-completion by Google Suggest's--rise to prominence in a matter of hours. Indeed, the sharp rise of Ajax is a perfect illustration of these mechanisms."

    Additional Resources:

    Ajax Design Patterns
    Michael Mahemoff
    ISBN: 0-596-10180-5, 635 pages, $44.99 US
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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