Set - 5

Question 1 :

What is the minimum version of PHP that needs to be running in order to use HTML_AJAX?

Answer :

The oldest PHP version i've fully tested HTML_AJAX is 4.3.11, but it should run on 4.2.0 without any problems. (Testing reports from PHP versions older then 4.3.11 would be appreciated.)


Question 2 :

Why does HTML_AJAX hang on some server installs

Answer :

If you run into an HTML_AJAX problem only on some servers, chances are your running into a problem with output compression. If the output compression is handled in the PHP config we detect that and do the right thing, but if its done from an apache extension we have no way of knowing its going to compress the body. Some times setting HTML_AJAX::sendContentLength to false fixes the problem, but in other cases you'll need to disabled the extension for the AJAX pages.
I've also seen problems caused by debugging extensions like XDebug, disabling the extension on the server page usually fixes that. Questions dealing with Using HTML_AJAX, and general JavaScript development


Question 3 :

Are there any security issues with AJAX?

Answer :

JavaScript is in plain view to the user with by selecting view source of the page. JavaScript can not access the local filesystem without the user's permission. An AJAX interaction can only be made with the servers-side component from which the page was loaded. A proxy pattern could be used for AJAX interactions with external services.
You need to be careful not to expose your application model in such as way that your server-side components are at risk if a nefarious user to reverse engineer your application. As with any other web application, consider using HTTPS to secure the connection when confidential information is being exchanged.


Question 4 :

What about applets and plugins ?

Answer :

Don't be too quick to dump your plugin or applet based portions of your application. While AJAX and DHTML can do drag and drop and other advanced user interfaces there still limitations especially when it comes to browser support. Plugins and applets have been around for a while and have been able to make AJAX like requests for years. Applets provide a great set of UI components and APIs that provide developers literally anything.
Many people disregard applets or plugins because there is a startup time to initialize the plugin and there is no guarantee that the needed version of a plugin of JVM is installed. Plugins and applets may not be as capable of manipulating the page DOM. If you are in a uniform environment or can depend on a specific JVM or plugin version being available (such as in a corporate environment) a plugin or applet solution is great.
One thing to consider is a mix of AJAX and applets or plugins. Flickr uses a combination of AJAX interactions/DHTML for labeling pictures and user interaction and a plugin for manipulating photos and photo sets to provide a great user experience. If you design your server-side components well they can talk to both types of clients.


Question 5 :

Why did you feel the need to give this a name?

Answer :

I needed something shorter than "Asynchronous JavaScript+CSS+DOM+XMLHttpRequest" to use when discussing this approach with clients.


Question 6 :

Is AJAX code cross browser compatible?

Answer :

Not totally. Most browsers offer a native XMLHttpRequest JavaScript object, while another one (Internet Explorer) require you to get it as an ActiveX object....


Question 7 :

Techniques for asynchronous server communication have been around for years. What makes Ajax a "new" approach?

Answer :

What's new is the prominent use of these techniques in real-world applications to change the fundamental interaction model of the Web. Ajax is taking hold now because these technologies and the industry's understanding of how to deploy them most effectively have taken time to develop.


Question 8 :

Is Ajax a technology platform or is it an architectural style?

Answer :

It's both. Ajax is a set of technologies being used together in a particular way.


Question 9 :

How does HTML_AJAX compare with the XAJAX project at Sourceforge?

Answer :

XAJAX uses XML as a transport for data between the webpage and server, and you don't write your own javascript data handlers to manipulate the data received from the server. Instead you use a php class and built in javascript methods, a combination that works very similiar to the HTML_AJAX_Action class and haSerializer combo. XAJAX is designed for simplicity and ease of use.
HTML_AJAX allows for multiple transmission types for your ajax data - such as urlencoding, json, phpserialized, plain text, with others planned, and has a system you can use to write your own serializers to meet your specific needs. HTML_AJAX has a class to help generate javascript (HTML_AJAX_Helper) similiar to ruby on rail's javascript helper (although it isn't complete), and an action system similiar to XAJAX's "action pump" that allows you to avoid writing javascript data handlers if you desire.
But it also has the ability to write your own data handling routines, automatically register classes and methods using a server "proxy" script, do different types of callbacks including grabbing remote urls, choose between sync and async requests, has iframe xmlhttprequest emulation fallback capabilities for users with old browsers or disabled activeX, and is in active development with more features planned (see the Road Map for details)
HTML_AJAX has additional features such as client pooling and priority queues for more advanced users, and even a javascript utility class. Although you can use HTML_AJAX the same way you use XAJAX, the additional features make it more robust, extensible and flexible. And it is a pear package, you can use the pear installer to both install and keep it up to date.
If you're asking which is "better" - as with most php scripts it's a matter of taste and need. Do you need a quick, simple ajax solution? Or do you want something that's flexible, extensible, and looking to incorporate even more great features? It depends on the project, you as a writer, and your future plans.


Question 10 :

What browsers support AJAX?

Answer :

Internet Explorer 5.0 and up, Opera 7.6 and up, Netscape 7.1 and up, Firefox 1.0 and up, Safari 1.2 and up, among others.