Of course, waiting for new pages to load takes time. If anything, people want websites to feel faster and more responsive, as if they were operating right on their own desktop, not on some far-off server. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, and Gmail are blurring the line between websites and desktop computer programs. The technology that makes this new generation of web applications possible is a programming technology called Ajax.
Ajax lets a web page ask for and receive a response from a web server and then update itself without ever having to load a new web page. The result is a website that feels more responsive. For example, when you visit Google Maps (Figure 13-1), you can zoom into the map; move north, south, east, or west; and even grab the map and drag it around. All of these actions happen without ever loading a new web page.