Chapter 14. Creating Dynamic Content


JavaScript-enabled browsers have always provided a level of control over page content so that scripts can influence what the visitor sees on the page. But it took sophisticated document object models and the automatically reflowing page features of browsers such as Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape 6 to give scripters carte blanche over the page content, both during page loading and after (within security boundaries, of course). This chapter focuses on how to generate content that goes into the page and manipulate the existing content of a page. The next chapter picks up where this one leaves off, showing several specific applications of these powers.

Web programmers who spend most of their time coding for server processing frequently overlook the power that a scripted client can provide to an otherwise dead and dull web page. Their (quite logical) train of thought is to have the server work its magic to assemble content that shoots its way to the browser, where users read it and perhaps enter various things into forms. The browser then sends the form back to the server, where more programming processes the user input. It’s powerful stuff on the server, and applications involving transactions and database access need that power running right where it is.

Users, however, are accustomed to direct manipulation of data and instant feedback from their experience with standalone applications running on their computers. When you change ...

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