Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Jnan Dash, Eric Robertson, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: IoT User Interface, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Adobe Flex

IoT User Interface: Article

Book Review: Advanced AJAX by Shawn M. Lauriat

"Advanced AJAX: Architecture and Best Practices" (Prentice Hall, 2008, 360p)

Brian Dillard's "Agile AJAX" Blog

Because AJAX moves so much application logic from the server to the client, it forces many developers to master a wider range of web technologies than ever before. To work effectively on AJAX projects, front-end developers have to concern themselves with database performance, business logic and other server-side concerns. Back-end and middleware developers, meanwhile, have to make friends with XHTML, CSS, JavaScript and a wide range of browsers.

Sure, it's possible to develop AJAX apps in a siloed team environment. But it's not the easiest way, and it rarely provides the strongest results.

Shawn M. Lauriat's "Advanced Ajax: Architecture and Best Practices" (Prentice Hall, 2008, 360p) bridges the gap between developers with exclusive client- or server-side skills. By exploring tools, technologies and best practices for every layer of the AJAX programming model, this solid new programming manual promises to plug the holes in any developer's resume. Lauriat's tops-to-tails approach offers something for almost any developer, but it also guarantees most readers will find some sections remedial. As this review will demonstrate, that's not necessarily a liability.

The book's first four chapters focus almost exclusively on the client-side technologies that are my own personal speciality. Lauriat's announces his goals early, shortly after pointing out the introductory nature of many existing AJAX books and tutorials:

"This book, instead, looks at using Ajax to create rich, browser-based interfaces for enterprise-level web applications, taking into account the flexibility, reusability, scalability, and maintainability necessary for such an undertaking. Ajax does not exist in this book as the latest and greatest acronym to hit web development. It instead exists as a tool like any other - extremely useful in some instances and totally wrong in others."

This focus on AJAX as a means rather than an end continues in the author's examination of user-focused application design:

"Ajax-based functionality fits best where it makes a given task easier for the user, rather than just replicating functionality easily achieved by simpler, faster-developed means. Using half a dozen JavaScript files, numerous CSS files, and several Ajax calls just to render a company home page uses a lot of time and memory for very little benefit to the user."

Having established his mission statement, Lauriat dives right into the specific technologies and approaches that client-side Ajax demands. He makes the case for semantic markup, web standards, progressive enhancement and accessibility in a way that should compute for server-side developers who may be encountering these concepts in depth for the first time. Advanced AJAX doesn't tackle these concepts to the level that, say, Jeffrey Zeldman would, but Lauriat doesn't scrimp on the real-world details. He provides compelling examples of the way high-contrast design, resizable page layouts, easily targeted controls and even the draft ARIA spec can enhance accessibility and usability for everyone, not just disabled users.

Once he's covered the basics of how to use client-side technologies appropriately, the author examines the specifics of client-side architecture. He explains JavaScript's object model and prototype-based inheritance with the appropriate level of detail for programmers better versed in Java or other server-side languages. Extensive code examples eschew jQuery and other AJAX frameworks, allowing readers to understand the nuts and bolts of cross-browser JavaScript development. Here, again, Lauriat displays a knack for providing neither too little nor too much detail. He discusses design patterns and strategies for abstraction just like he discusses Ajax itself: as tools rather than mandates. Readers with previous exposure to MVC architecture and event-driven programming should gain a better understanding of those techniques. Novices, meanwhile, should learn enough to understand the code samples and perhaps find their curiosity piqued for further study.

Having covered client-side technologies and architecture, Lauriat finally turns to development and debugging tools. Validators, browser consoles and plug-ins, profiles and unit-testing frameworks all get their due. Here, as elsewhere, Lauriat delves into the nitty-gritty of developing applications for IE, Safari, Firefox and Opera. He suggests tools and techniques for each browser environment without getting into political asides. As with the earlier chapters, I came away with a more complete, holistic understanding of topics in which I already considered myself well-versed.

Taken as a whole, the client-focused chapters of Advanced AJAX are worth skimming even for senior client-side developers. For programmers just getting acquainted with the UI layer, these chapters provide an extremely concise, yet thorough treatment of a huge number of important topics. I'm extremely impressed with Lauriat's book, and I haven't even gotten to the sections that will cover the most new ground for me personally.

The book's remaining chapters deal with everything from security and database optimization to server-side architecture and game development.

The server-side portion of Advanced AJAX uses PHP code to illustrate its many and varied lessons about AJAX architecture. It's not that I have anything against the popular web-development framework and scripting language. It's just that, after spending my career in the ASP Classic and JSP trenches and slowly ramping up on Rails in the last year, I'm not the ideal target audience for these code samples. Adding "PHP" to the title of the book might have limited its potential audience, but it also would have been more accurate.

That said, there's a lot of value here for adherents of any server-side framework. Lauriat discusses each topic from a general perspective before diving into the code. The technical approach to a given problem would obviously differ by framework, but the high-level approach wouldn't. If you don't mind skimming past the content that doesn't apply to you, Lauriat's advice about developing stable, scalable, accessible and secure AJAX applications transcends framework allegiance.

Chapter 5, "Performance Optimization," delves into database performance, caching, profiling and debugging. Chapter 6, "Scalable, Maintainable Ajax," covers everything from modular architecture to the concatenation of CSS and JavaScript files for faster deployment to the client. Lauriat covers the basics of MVC development in Chapter 7, "Server-Side Application Architecture." Security gets its due in Chapter 8, "Keeping a Web Application Secure." These chapters will make quick reading for anyone not interested in the lengthy PHP code samples, but the general principles are solid and worth taking to heart.

The book's final few chapters prove the most compelling for a general web-development audience. Lauriat devotes an entire chapter to documentation, coding standards, programming guides and style guides - including a look at JSDoc, the open-source, automated JavaScript documentation tool. But it's Chapter 10, "Game Development," that brings everything together. Lauriat uses PHP and cutting-edge client-side code (via the HTML 5 canvas element) to build Universe Conflict, an AJAX implementation of the venerable Space War! shooter game. Given that most example applications tend toward e-commerce or CRUD admin interfaces, it's refreshing to see Ajax employed for something frivolous and fun. That said, Lauriat convincingly demonstrates that games require the same architectural and security principles as any other application. The author closes with some final, high-level conclusions in Chapter 11.

Overall, Advanced AJAX proved to be a worthwhile read despite my lack of PHP mojo. Of its 11 chapters, 5 1/2 are full of examples that could be applied to any development framework, while the other 5 1/2 are full of sage advice that requires translation for non-PHP platforms.

The publisher has made a sample chapter of the book available on its website.


Full disclosure: The author received a free promotional copy of this book for review.

More Stories By Brian J. Dillard

Brian J. Dillard joined Pathfinder Development in August 2007 as RIA Evangelist. After 12 years of focusing on the view layer of large consumer web apps, his role at Pathfinder Associates is one of research, development and ongoing commentary. He prototypes new rich UI features; contributes to open-source and client projects; and otherwise helps build Pathfinder's competency in the AJAX world. Along with Pathfinder CTO Dietrich Kappe, Dillard contributes to the 'Agile Ajax' blog (http://blogs.pathf.com/agileajax). He is also the project lead on Really Simple History, a JavaScript library for AJAX bookmark and back-button management.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, discussed how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your aud...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...