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Facelets by Robert Swarr

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Chapter 8. Enriching the User Interface Experience with AJAX

The IT industry has made great advances in web technology since O'Reilly hosted the WWW Wizards Workshop in July 1993. In those days, we struggled to display static hypertext pages in a browser called Mosaic (the progenitor of Netscape). Today, we routinely build internal and external applications using web technology. Yet, despite the fact that the technology has improved exponentially, the gap between the state of the art and user expectations remains. Users expect a web application to achieve the performance and the look and feel of a desktop application. You could call this the "horizon effect"—no matter how fast you run, the horizon still retreats before you. So, in some ways, we're back in 1993 trying to figure out how to make something work, and while we're at it, make it work better.

For these reasons, developing a rich internet application is the buzz phrase of the day. Rich internet applications are so popular that it's difficult to pick up a copy of an industry periodical without seeing an article on this topic. But, given the realities of running applications over a stateless request-response protocol and browsers marching to different drummers, what sounds attractive in theory seems daunting in practice. To make web applications intuitive, snappy, and attractive, we need to reach into our software toolbox for some power tools. This chapter demonstrates techniques that enrich the user interface experience, such ...

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