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Ajax's Disruptive Influences?
Views: 1156 | 1-11-2010, 07:42 | Category : Web Development

There's an article over at AjaxWorld magazine about why Ajax is so "distruptive" in that it changes the playing field for normal software development. I think the first part of the article is great: it talks about how "Web 2.0" sites don't need to have Ajax, and how Ajax is encouraging better Web software design by encouraging developers/architects to write their applications as APIs.

(Article is at

However, I'm not sure I agree with the five "Disruptive Influences" of Ajax:

1. "The End of Software Upgrades, Fixes, and Security Patches"

I don't see how this is Ajax-specific. Non-Ajax web apps...same thing?

2. "Software and Data Available Wherever You Go"

...Because it's browser based? Again, not much to do with Ajax.

3. "Isolated Software Can't Compete with Connected Software"

The "Web as a platform" in which Web sites use services from other Web sites has been around for a long, long time.

4. "Deprecation of the Traditional Operating System"

Not binding software to the OS, again, has naught to do with Ajax.

5. "Software That Is Invisible"

Web software is naturally of a lighter weight than desktop. Its smaller control set has encouraged more elementary UI. Like anything else, it can be used well or poorly, but not much to do with Ajax specifically.

So what do I think is the disruptive force of Ajax?

I don't think the major disruptive force of Ajax is one that specifically disrupts software on the desktop. Instead, I think it's just that a lot of Ajax and/or RIA sites do something a lot of software doesn't: make users happy.

A good example is Google Maps (or Yahoo! Maps Beta). It's so easy and natural to use a draggable map that using MapQuest again becomes painful. Heck, it's fun to use Google Maps for the first time.

Even with this aspect, though, I wonder the disruptive force of Ajax is overblown. I'm sure the first GUIs were mindblowing. However, once everyone can do it, a lot more people were available to screw it up. And I think Ajax will go the same way. Right now, a lot of the high profile Ajax sites are employing the top people in the Ajax community. It makes sense that they'd then, therefore, be of good quality. What's going to happen when an Ajax site goes from being a rarity to the norm? I'm sure we'll see some lousy, disapppointing Ajax UIs.

Tags: Ajax, Causing Trouble

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