Chapter 2. JavaScript for Ajax

Ajax is centered around the clever use of JavaScript. It isn’t a web framework, like Struts or Tapestry, and it isn’t some fancy new technology with a cool acronym; Ajax boils down to using JavaScript to interact directly with the web server, avoiding the submit/response cycle all too familiar to web users.

Java programmers have typically avoided JavaScript, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad ones. Certainly, adding another layer of scripting to a JSP page can only add to the confusion. However, JavaScript runs entirely on the browser and is therefore very fast. There’s no waiting for the server to generate a response: JavaScript can compute a result and update the page immediately.

Ajax adds server interaction, but without the Submit button. Whenever data is needed, the JavaScript in the web page makes a request, and the server replies with data—but not another HTML page. The server returns data that the JavaScript displays in the existing page. The result is that your web application feels a lot more like a desktop application. In short, you can achieve a rich application experience in your web pages by using Ajax.

This book won’t attempt to teach JavaScript, or even to analyze its pros and cons. I assume that you have had some exposure to JavaScript. If you’re new to it, check out JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, by David Flanagan (O’Reilly). This is the best JavaScript reference available. JavaScript isn’t Java, though reading JavaScript ...

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