AJAX Irrelevant?

Marc Canter argues that AJAX is a dead-end street, arguing that “new paradigms like Laszlo and Avalon are required for us to build the future.”

I have to agree that the next generation of tools will bring better experiences, but the fact that better tools have existed for a long time, and nobody used them, should be instructive. Flash has been around for a long time, and the industry is littered with Flash competitors. Since 1995, the industry has attacked this “rich media” problem from every possible solution angle. But the stubborn web developers refused to bite, insisting on developing with crufty old HTML.

To me, the reason is clear. When people develop for a proprietary platform, they don’t mind being locked into that platform. But people who code for the web are often doing so because they don’t want to be locked in anyone’s trunk. The proof is evident. Why else would someone write 10,000 lines of difficult-to-debug JavaScript code when 1,000 lines of C# would give a better UI?

That doesn’t mean that AJAX will eat Avalon, but I think the two will coexist. Avalon will be used for a rather different set of scenarios, IMO. AJAX evolution will be slow and painful, but developers who need AJAX will just wait for the platform to evolve — that’s what they’ve been doing for the past five years. And developing won’t be as easy, but that clearly isn’t stopping anyone. It’s not easy to write Halo2 mods, either, but kids do it for free. From what I can see, for the scenarios where people are really pushing AJAX’s limits, AJAX is the only option they’re willing to consider, and it’s likely to remain that way for a long time to come.

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