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Happy birthday, Ajax – son of SOA

By Jack Vaughan
XML-based Web services were the most direct antecedent for SOA. They also spawned Ajax, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. We often tend to focus on the server-side advances in services, but we should not overlook the services advances on the front-end, and Ajax is chief among them.
This hit home recently as the crew gathered for an Ajax birthday party. You see, it was five years ago on February 18, 2005, that Jesse James Garrett coined the term ”Ajax” to represent a design style that was giving new life to browser client architecture and, perhaps, changing the server-side architecture as well. We invite you to read our conversation with Jesse James Garrett and other architecture thought leaders in “Ajax Web application development turns five.”

Now XML is less and less in the Ajax mix. [See ”What’s the future of XML?”] JSON, which looks to eschew XML and which predated the coinage of ”Ajax,” now seems to be a more important part of the front-end services mix. As JSON creator Doug Crockford tells us: ”Nothing actually happened in 2005. All of the technology needed to do Ajax was in the field in 2000, maybe earlier.”

The Ajax movement has shown the power of open source development. When the big companies got tired of updating their browser products, the community pushed things forward. Squeezing more life from the browser client has also enabled new classes of service-enabled apps such as enterprise mashups. See Michael Ogrinz’s ”What do enterprise mashups have in common with RAD?” for more. There is reason to think this type of programming is setting the stage for enterprise mobile applications that will reshape how businesses operate.

”The Ajax term was very helpful in getting attention on this technology, but it has outlived its usefulness,” Crockford told us. Sure, the term may live on a bit longer, and more as a description of a programming style than as an airtight acronym. But, for us, ”Ajax at five” still seemed a damned good excuse for a party! Cheers to Jesse James Garrett! Cheers to Ajax!

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