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Who Cares What AJAX Stands For?

First, let me introduce myself. I’m Chris. I spend my days at UKFast weaving PHP pages from cold hard text, fiddling with brain-blendingly complex SQL queries and dancing the mystical dance of CSS.

When I’m not dealing with that triumvirate of three letter abbreviations (let’s not get started on the acc vs abb stuff), I like to try and get my head round new web tech. Currently the biggest noise in development circles goes by the rather unwieldy name AJAX.

And it’s actually the word AJAX, rather than the technology it describes, that I want to talk about. The technology – or rather technique – itself is handy, and as soon as I had the chance I stuck a bit of it on our Reseller Area site (first person to tell me where wins my undying admiration). Being able to interface with the server ‘behind the user’s back’ feels tremendously freeing, and there’s going to be a huge range of stunning sites using this very soon.

But that word, ugh. AJAX. It makes me think of a cleaning product. It’ll make less geeky types than me think of a football team. It sounds like the name of a design-by-committee videogame character. It does not sound friendly, it does not sound user-centric and, in its unabbreviated form ‘Asynchronous Javascript And XHTML’, it even scares as big a nerd as me. AJAX as a term barely makes sense, and it’s being blown up to the same giddy buzzword heights as Java was a decade or so ago.

The web, as something designed to be used, should always be led by the user. When projects with names like AJAXWrite come out, it seems to me that us web types are letting the technology take centre stage. I don’t ever want to have to explain to a non-computing friend what this mystical, horrible word means – I felt silly enough explaining it to my colleague Chris, and he’s the sort of chap who installs linux on his microwave for fun…

Let’s keep web tech behind the scenes, people – before it just get silly.

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