What is AJAX?

Description: AJAX is another acronym that is commonly used in web applications - but do you know what it means? Read on to find out.

The term AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Small wonder everyone refers to it as AJAX, but its name is actually self explanatory if you know enough about web programming to know what its components are.

Let's examine each component to better explain what AJAX actually is. JavaScript is a type of computer language which is used to script and create web pages. XML is used as a vehicle for transporting that language as and when needed. Asynchronous simply means that specific requests and processes do not have to occur simultaneously.

The AJAX application basically allows for the interactive use of web pages - something that is becoming more and more prevalent nowadays. But it doesn't stop there. It also makes it possible for anyone viewing a particular website which uses AJAX to alter the appearance of a page in some way without having to refresh the page to make it happen.

In short, AJAX speeds the whole process up. Instead of waiting to see the changes, they happen virtually straight away. A good example of this would be if the person visits a website wanting to buy a specific product. There is a basic description of that product and a number of icons to click on, which enable them to see that product in different colors.

A website which doesn't have the AJAX facility would experience a delay while the relevant page loads, showing the right color product that the customer has selected. On a website which does make use of AJAX the picture would change virtually instantly - no waiting, no inconvenience and no problems. All you see is a simple, clean and effective change on one part of the web page - which doesn't affect the rest of that page at all.

This makes AJAX indispensable for many sites, especially ecommerce ones where the impatient customer can decide to go elsewhere long before the information they want is returned to them.

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