There are many sites that will tell you that this technology is nothing new or special. While working for my employer, I have been using this technology since I arrived in 2001. In general, the goal was to make our web application “look like” a standard Windows-like application, because of the misconception that our customers would not understand the web and would not like the scrolling that may occur with larger pages. So we implemented a size-restrictive, DHTML application targeted for Internet Explorer. It uses AJAX to exchange XML back and forth, with the client using IE’s non-standard extensions such as HTC (behaviors) and XML data islands. We were able to create a common framework to base our application upon, and we have built 4 or 5 successful application using the technology.
With that said, there are some shortcomings. First, using AJAX is relatively complex and very hard to debug. Since it’s a combination of different technologies, and it is somewhat new, there are very little off-the-shelf components that exhibit the AJAX paradigm. So there is a significant initial investment in custom development.
Second, the amount of data that we passed back and forth was large, document-style XML-RPC request and responses. Some of our customers were smaller, with no broadband access. So passing these XML documents back and fourth on dial-up connections made response times unbearable. It does not help that my employer does not have a large web farm, either. So, in our instance, scalability is an issue.
So AJAX, the buzzword of the year, does need a direction to maturity. Microsoft is current designing an AJAX-like frameworkand the OSS community is also stepping up. So it would be interesting to see how AJAX plays out in future web development.