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This page is meant for definitions of key terms that apply to OpenAjax.

  • Ajax - Ajax is a design approach and a set of techniques for delivering a highly interactive, desktop-like user experience for Web applications in popular HTML browsers. Ajax, which stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, improves the user’s web application experience while retaining the HTML benefits of server-based application deployment. Ajax represents the continued evolution of DHTML to deliver Web 2.0 experiences and Rich Internet Applications - RIAs. Ajax builds on open standards that are available widely as native features (i.e., without plugins) in popular browsers. Ajax's incremental update techniques are accomplished through built-in features such as JavaScript and the XMLHttpRequest API. Ajax developments often leverage Ajax server-side frameworks and/or JavaScript libraries that combine together to provide a cross-browser abstraction layer. Within the browser, Ajax uses a combination of technologies:
    • XHTML (or HTML), CSS, and (with newer browsers) SVG for marking up and styling information.
    • The DOM accessed with a client-side scripting language, especially ECMAScript implementations such as JavaScript and JScript, to dynamically display and interact with the information presented.
    • Network programming, such as via the XMLHttpRequest object, to exchange data asynchronously with the web server.
    • JSON and XML are often used as the format for transferring data between the server and client, although any format will work, including preformatted HTML or plain text.
  • API - any programmatic packages, classes, objects, properties and methods that are provided by the Ajax library for use by the application developer. APIs may include free-floating JavaScript functions (which even if not defined as such, extend the windows object) and may include functions that extend core JavaScript objects (such as Array or Object).
  • Control - a visual or non-visual Ajax element that serves a finite functional purpose. Controls may have associated APIs. Visual controls include concepts like tabsets, data grids, sliders, text boxes, date pickers, accordions, fisheyes, etc... . Non-visual controls include concepts like data objects and communication objects. (Synonyms: Widgets, Gadgets though in use this usually connotes controls that have visual interfaces with which one can interact.)
  • Library - a collection of Controls and/or APIs.
  • Open standard - Within the context of the OpenAjax Alliance, an "open standard" is a publicly available specification that is controlled by an official not-for-profit standards organization where ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus or majority decision etc.); the specification is available to the public without charge; the technology is implemented by multiple vendors; the intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis; and there are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.
  • Toolkit (in the context of "Ajax toolkit") - A collection of technologies, products, and other supporting materials such as documentation, that help a customer to produce an Ajax-based solution. In some scenarios, a toolkit might just be a library, but in other cases will consist of some combination of libraries, server components, authoring components, associated utility software, and supporting materials such as documentation.
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