Getting Began with Ajax – A Checklist Aside

A Checklist Aside is happy to current the next excerpt from Chapter 27 of Net Design in a Nutshell (O’Reilly Media, Inc., third version, February 21, 2006). —Ed.

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The beginning of 2005 noticed the rise of a comparatively new expertise, dubbed “Ajax” by Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path. Ajax stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. In a nutshell, it’s using the nonstandard XMLHttpRequest() object to speak with server-side scripts. It could ship in addition to obtain info in quite a lot of codecs, together with XML, HTML, and even textual content recordsdata. Ajax’s most interesting attribute, nonetheless, is its “asynchronous” nature, which suggests it could possibly do all of this with out having to refresh the web page. This lets you replace parts of a web page based mostly upon person occasions and offers one of many cornerstones of Wealthy Web Purposes (RIA) referred to in discussions of “Net 2.0.”

The DOM performs into Ajax in a lot of methods. How you employ the DOM relies upon deal on the way you deal with the content material returned from the server. You possibly can deal with the con­tent as easy textual content utilizing the responseText property of the server response, or you may deal with it as XML utilizing responseXML. Assuming the content material you pull again from the server is an (X)HTML snippet and also you’ve gotten it as responseText, you could possibly drop that content material into a specific spot on the web page utilizing innerHTML. On the flip aspect, if the content material you pull again is XML and also you’ve gotten it as responseXML, you may traverse its DOM, cherry-picking or performing capabilities on the weather, attributes, and textual content nodes.

This in all probability sounds very complicated, however it’s fairly straightforward as soon as we go over just a few easy examples. For these examples, we’re utilizing the XHConn library for simplifying our interplay with XMLHttpRequest(). The XHConn library is freely accessible at and permits easy entry to XMLHttpRequest() by creating a brand new XHConn object after which initiating its join() methodology as you’ll quickly see.

As with the DOM Scripting examples (above), for a blow-by-blow of what the script is doing, learn the JavaScript feedback.

Instance 1: Ajax with innerHTML#section2

For a easy innerHTML-based Ajax instance, we’ll create a quasi-functional handle e book software. We’ll begin with the XHTML web page (line wraps marked » —Ed.):

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" »
<html  »
  xml:lang="en" lang="en">
  <title>Ajax Handle Guide</title>
  <meta http-equiv="content-type" c »
    charset=iso-8859-1" />
    <meta http-equiv="Content material-Language" c />
  <script sort="textual content/javascript" src=""></script>
  <script sort="textual content/javascript" src="addressBook.js"></script>
  <h1>Easy Ajax Handle Guide</h1>
  <kind acti methodology="POST">
      <legend>Please Select a Particular person</legend>
      <choose id="individual" identify="individual">
        <possibility worth="">Select Somebody</possibility>
        <possibility worth="1">Bob Smith</possibility>
        <possibility worth="2">Janet Jones</possibility>
      <enter sort="submit" id="submit" identify="submit" »
        worth="Get the Handle" />
  <pre id="handle"></pre>

As you may see, we’ve a easy kind with a choose, from which to decide on an individual. Once more, we’re offering a fallback motion for the shape, in case our JavaScript can’t run. Under the shape, we’ve a easy pre aspect that can be displaying the handle info from the database.

And now for the JavaScript. Principally, we can be commandeering the choose and utilizing its onchange occasion handler to set off an XMLHttpRequest() name to acquire the handle info for the chosen particular person. The server can be returning this info as a string like this:

Bob Smith
123 College Avenue
Anytown, NY 12345

We’ll take this return as a string and dump it into the pre aspect utilizing innerHTML. Check out the code (line wraps marked » —Ed.):

var addressBook = {
  myConn:      false, // the XMLHttpRequest
  physique:        false, // the physique aspect
  goal:      false, // the goal container
  loader:      false, // the loader
  init:        operate(controlId, sbmtBtnId, targetId){
    /* init() takes three arguments:
       * the id of the controller (choose)
       * the id of the submit button
       * the id of the goal container */
    // check for strategies & components
    if(!doc.getElementById ||
       !doc.getElementsByTagName ||
       !doc.getElementById(controlId) ||
       !doc.getElementById(sbmtBtnId)  ||
       !doc.getElementById(targetId)) return;
    // set and check XHConn, quitting silently if it fails
    addressBook.myConn = new XHConn();
    if(!addressBook.myConn) return;
    // get the physique
    addressBook.physique = doc.getElementsByTagName('physique')[0];
    // get the controller
    var management = doc.getElementById(controlId);
    // get the submit button
    var sbmtBtn = doc.getElementById(sbmtBtnId);
    // take away the submit button
    // get the goal
    addressBook.goal = doc.getElementById(targetId);
    // add the onchange occasion to the controller,
                           if(this.worth != ''){
                             /* if there is a worth,
                                set off getAddress */
                           } else { 
                             // in any other case empty the goal
                             addressBook.goal.innerHTML = '';
  getAddress:  operate(id){ // the Ajax name
    // let's let the person know one thing is occurring (see under)
    /* that is the operate that's run
       as soon as the Ajax name completes */
    var fnWhenDone = operate(oXML) {
      // eliminate the loader
      // insert the returned handle info into the goal
      addressBook.goal.innerHTML = oXML.responseText;
    // use XHConn's join methodology
    addressBook.myConn.join('index.php', 'POST',
                               'id='+id, fnWhenDone);
  buildLoader: operate(){     // builds a loader
    // create a brand new div
    addressBook.loader = doc.createElement('div');
    // give it some fashion   = 'absolute';        = '50%';"50%";"300px";"100px";     = '-50px 0 0 - 150px';  = 'middle';"1px stable #870108"; = '#fff';
    // give it some textual content
    addressBook.loader.appendChild( »
      doc.createTextNode( »
        'Loading Knowledge, please waitu2026'));
    // append it to the physique
  killLoader:  operate(){     // kills the loader
    // take away the loader kind the physique
  addEvent: operate(obj, sort, fn){  // the add occasion operate
    if (obj.addEventListener) »
      obj.addEventListener(sort, fn, false);
    else if (obj.attachEvent) {
      obj["e"+type+fn] = fn;
      obj[type+fn] = operate() {
      obj.attachEvent("on"+sort, obj[type+fn]);
/* run the init() methodology on web page load, passing it
   the required arguments */
addressBook.addEvent(window, 'load',

See this script in motion.

Instance 2: Ajax with Nodes#section3

Let’s alter the instance, and as a substitute of returning a string from the server, this time, make it XML:

    <road>123 College Avenue</road>

The XHTML web page stays the identical, however we have to make some minor changes to the JavaScript. To spotlight the variations, I’ll contact on every change individually.

The primary change, to the onchange occasion handler of the choose, is fairly easy (line wraps marked » —Ed.):

                            if(this.worth != ''){
                           } else {
                             addressBook.goal.removeChild( »

As a substitute of setting the content material of the goal to empty utilizing innerHTML, the DOM is eradicating the node that’s the goal’s first youngster.

Subsequent up is the getAddress() methodology (line wraps marked » —Ed.):

  getAddress:  operate(id){
    var fnWhenDone = operate(oXML) {
        addressBook.goal.removeChild( »
      xml = oXML.responseXML;
      var identify    = addressBook.getNodeValue(xml, 'first')+' '+
                    addressBook.getNodeValue(xml, 'final');
      var handle = addressBook.getNodeValue(xml, 'road');
      var csz     = addressBook.getNodeValue(xml, 'metropolis')+', '+
                    addressBook.getNodeValue(xml, 'state')+' '+
                    addressBook.getNodeValue(xml, 'zip');
      var txt = doc.createTextNode(identify + " n" +
                                        handle + "n" + csz);
    addressBook.myConn.join('getAddress.php', 'POST',
                               'id=' + id, fnWhenDone);

As we’re working with XML, we will use the responseXML property to get the return from the server as a node tree. Then we will traverse that tree, gathering the tidbits of data we want. On this instance, we added a brand new methodology (getNodeValue()) that makes working with XML returns simpler:

  getNodeValue: operate(tree, el){
    return tree.getElementsByTagName(el)[0].firstChild.nodeValue;

This methodology takes two arguments: the node tree (tree) and the aspect (el) whose content material is needed. It returns the nodeValue of the firstChild of the primary el inside tree or, in different phrases, the textual content worth of the node requested from the node tree.

As soon as we’ve collected all the requested contents from the XML, the textual content string is rebuilt and generated with the DOM earlier than being appended to the goal. The tip consequence could be seen right here.

You could be questioning, why do each examples do the very same factor? It reveals how one can work with two fully completely different backend methods and nonetheless get the outcomes you need. In Ajax, as in lots of issues, flexibility is vital to get the job achieved.

Net Design in a Nutshell, by Jennifer Niederst Robbins and that includes contributions from Derek Featherstone and Aaron Gustafson, has been fully rewritten to replicate one of the best practices of the net requirements world and is on cabinets now.

For extra info on Ajax, seek the advice of:

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