Refining the work

It looks like Ajax (or remote scripting, or whatever you want to call it) is turning a bit of a corner, because JavaScript is turning that same corner: refinement of possibility into best practice. Cameron Adams has written up an article on Usable Interactivity with Remote Scripting which is a good example of the trend; not just “ooh! ooh! remote scripting!” but how best to use the technique to deliver a better UI to your punters, which is after all the point of the exercise. There are a few initiatives just bubbling under right now which are looking to take the trend onto a more stable footing; documentation of what a best practice is, the things you need to remember, and other neat stuff you can do, which I’ll be mentioning as soon as they happen. (Sorry for the tease.)

As another example, see OpenID: they’ve put together a distributed system for website authentication, so you can have one identity on lots of sites but without having to sign up to a central service like Passport or TypeKey to do so. One of their priorities was to allow a JavaScript-based login form, so that a whole page refresh wasn’t required to log in with your identity. This drive to standardisation is one of the hallmarks of a successful technology that’s broken through to the mainstream; it happened with CSS, where it went through the “it’s cool but people don’t use it” phase, then the “wow! unlimited possibility!” stage, and now has settled down to a state where there is good documentation (a W3C standard document is not good documentation if you’re trying to learn something) and useful sites, like Position Is Everything and the css-d Wiki to cover best practices and so on. Keep an eye on Atom, the new RSS, too: they’re still in the “build a complex W3Cish standards document” stage, but soon will come “wow! unlimited possibility!” as people start using Atom as more than just a way of subscribing to news stories. There’ll be lots of JavaScript involved in that, I’m quite sure.

I could go on listing useful and cool newish JavaScript things, like script.aculo.us and its associated Prototype library, or TrimJunction. But you should get back to coding and showing everyone what the next new cool JavaScript thing is, probably. I’d love to see.

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  • http://www.homeorchardsociety.org SRTech

    I just stumbled upon the Behaviour library, and wondered what you opinion on it is?

  • sil

    SRTech: it’s similar to a thing I did called JSES ages ago, and therefore I certainly agree with he concept of hooking up event handlers with CSS selectors; I just feel that the implementation is a little bit awkward because it’s JavaScript syntax trying to look like a CSS stylesheet, which is pretty fiddly.