Why AJAX Failed (Then Succeeded)

E-Week has notes from “Google’s Bosworth” (which must be Adam Bosworth, formerly employed at Microsoft and working on the IE4 team).

Below some notable quotes on AJAX. I really like his style a lot. Also, I can recommend his talk from 2005 on high performance systems (via IT conversations), where he mentions that one Google blog has experienced up to 120,000 hits per second.

A good tool should be transparent, should execute actions in less than half a second and should involve interactive bottom-up learning, “because you change your mind as you go,” he said.

Natural language was billed as a replacement for the GUI, but it failed to achieve that. It also failed as a query language for databases, as a calculation language for spreadsheets and as a document creation language, Bosworth said. “Humans expect a human level of comprehension,” he said, noting that database queries and spreadsheet formulas have to be exact.

eWEEK.com Special Report: Google's Global Reach

But natural language got a second life, too, triggered in part by Microsoft Help, and the next step turned out to be Google, Bosworth said. The trick to being successful with natural language is to “start with a fuzzy problem, one no human can resolve anyway…orient it around search, and the magic is just in the ranking,” he said.

Drawing on the lessons he learned from the initial failure of AJAX, Bosworth admonished developers to think about user activity. “Ask what the frequency is,” he said. “Unless an app is used over and over each day, make it simple, even if more clicks [or] pages are required.”

Also, “Ask how long it takes to execute a requested task,” he said. “If it takes more than 2 seconds, consider not providing the task or splitting it up into small, user-controlled tasks.”

Moreover, “sites where people don’t go a lot don’t need AJAX-style UIs [user interfaces],” Bosworth said. “If we started building AJAX for AJAX’s sake we wouldn’t be doing our customers any favors.”

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

3 Responses to “Why AJAX Failed (Then Succeeded)”

  1. Michael Zuschlag Says:

    Not to denigrate Google’s sophisticated page ranking algorithms, but I think it’s more than a stretch to characterize Google Search as a natural language user interface. Type in “Frogs, but not the amphibians” and you get nothing but amphibians. Google can appear like a natural language interface sometimes only because the content it searches happens to be organized as natural language.

  2. Transparent language Says:

    I think Ajax is good for web users. The use of AJAX on the website can entice the interest of the web users, however it is not that good to the company side. If what I said is wrong, welcome to correct me.