Chapter 8. Adding Advanced Visual Effects

Ajax doesn’t require sophisticated visual effects. The only effects necessary are those that have been demonstrated in previous chapters: the ability to add, alter, or remove page contents; hide or show new data; highlight changes in some way. All of these effects make use of relatively simple and widespread technologies, such as HTML and CSS. At the opposite spectrum of Ajax applications are the Rich Internet Applications (RIAs)—applications that seek to recreate traditional desktop applications in web browsers using Ajax technologies. Among the applications you can create are word processing applications, spreadsheets, email programs, and even graphics programs, such as those like Paint, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), or Photoshop.

The RIA applications make greater demands on the browser’s graphics capability—a demand not met by CSS, or only by simpler implementations of CSS. Though creating such applications is far outside the scope of this book, the visual tools that the RIA developers use are not. Or at least, not so far out that we can’t take one chapter to have a little fun and spend some time exploring the possibilities of what they can add to our in-place edits and polled updates.

There are two approaches we can take to add advanced visual effects to web applications. The first is the one commonly accessible to all web browsers—the effects that can be managed through CSS. These include transparency, sizing, clipping, and so ...

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