Learn AJAX in 30 seconds


Richard Marks:
Learn AJAX in 30 seconds

I found this short tutorial online and wanted to keep a copy on hand.
Where I found it was on some forum as a post, and its a post of a post from a mailinglist post..so I assume its ok to post it.
I've edited only for typos.
I find a lot of this AJAX stuff a bit of a hype.  Lots of people have
been using similar things long before it became "AJAX".  And it really
isn't as complicated as a lot of people make it out to be.  Here is a
simple example from one of my applications. 
First the Javascript:

function createRequestObject() {
    var ro;
    var browser = navigator.appName;
    if(browser == "Microsoft Internet Explorer"){
        ro = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
        ro = new XMLHttpRequest();
    return ro;

var http = createRequestObject();

function sndReq(action) {
    http.open('get', 'rpc.php?action='+action);
    http.onreadystatechange = handleResponse;

function handleResponse() {
    if(http.readyState == 4){
        var response = http.responseText;
        var update = new Array();

        if(response.indexOf('|' != -1)) {
            update = response.split('|');
            document.getElementById(update[0]).innerHTML = update[1];

This creates a request object along with a send request and handle
response function.  So to actually use it, you could include this script in
your page.  Then to make one of these back-end requests you would tie it
to something.  Like an onclick event or a straight href like this:

  <a href="javascript:sndReq('foo')">[foo]</a>

That means that when someone clicks on that link what actually happens
is that a back-end request to rpc.php?action=foo will be sent.

In rpc.php you might have something like this:

  switch($_REQUEST['action']) {
    case 'foo':
      / do something /
      echo "foo|foo done";

Now, look at handleResponse.  It parses the "foo|foo done" string and
splits it on the '|' and uses whatever is before the '|' as the dom
element id in your page and the part after as the new innerHTML of that
element.  That means if you have a div tag like this in your page:

  <div id="foo">

Once you click on that link, that will dynamically be changed to:

  <div id="foo">
  foo done

That's all there is to it.  Everything else is just building on top of
this.  Replacing my simple response "id|text" syntax with a richer XML
format and making the request much more complicated as well.  Before you
blindly install large "AJAX" libraries, have a go at rolling your own
functionality so you know exactly how it works and you only make it as
complicated as you need.  Often you don't need much more than what I
have shown here.

Expanding this approach a bit to send multiple parameters in the
request, for example, would be really simple.  Something like:

  function sndReqArg(action,arg) {
    http.open('get', 'rpc.php?action='+action+'&arg='+arg);
    http.onreadystatechange = handleResponse;

And your handleResponse can easily be expanded to do much more
interesting things than just replacing the contents of a div.



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