How to Learn Ajax
If you hope to work in web development, you’ll probably need to understand a few things about how AJAX works. In this article we’ll answer the questions What Is AJAX and What is AJAX used for?
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What is AJAX?
AJAX is a range of techniques used to create asynchronous websites. Ajax lets sites read information from a web server after a page has loaded and send data to a web server in the background.
AJAX is useful because it lets developers build more interactive pages. Consider your Twitter feed. Your feed can update without having to refresh the page. You’ll notice new Tweets appear when you keep scrolling. This is the sort of behavior enabled by AJAX.
What Is AJAX Used For?
The ‘asynchronous’ in AJAX refers to the problem of updating components of a web page or web application at different times. A common example of this process in action is a user filling out a form, hitting ‘Submit’, and seeing the screen display a message.
On the back end, what’s really happening is the server side and various parts of the web page are exchanging data. And the state of the page is changing. Without AJAX techniques, the user would have to manually refresh the page to see any confirmation their information has been successfully transmitted.
Other examples include Google Maps or Google autocomplete. We tend to take autocomplete for granted, but it’s a powerful use case for the AJAX development protocol.
With each letter that you type, Google’s front end sends the request to update its list of suggestions. The back end processes the request and returns the data to update the front end. Without AJAX you wouldn’t be able to see the updated list without reloading the page after every letter.
Can you imagine living in that world? Luckily, we don’t have to. AJAX handles asynchronous updates smoothly and effectively, without making users reload the entire page to get data from the server.
Many modern websites rely on asynchoronous techniques to create a more interactive and interesting user experience. When you go to a social media site, for example, the page is not static. It changes as new content becomes available.
You can find AJAX all over the internet, from eCommerce websites to enterprise applications. But how do you learn to code in AJAX? That’s a good question. We’ll answer that question in this section.
How Long Does it Take to Learn AJAX?
It should take you about an hour or two to learn the basics of AJAX. This is because AJAX is not a language in itself. It is a set of techniques. You can expect to spend a day or two understanding how to implement AJAX into more complex applications.
For instance, it may take you an hour to learn the fundamental principles behind AJAX. But you may spend a day or two learning the syntax of XMLHttpRequest, a key part of AJAX.
If you want to become a professional web developer, you should expect to allocate more time to practicing AJAX.
AJAX is a fundamental technology in modern web development. A few hours of learning will not be enough if you want to use AJAX in a web development job. You’ll need to keep reinforcing your skills and practicing examples in real-world applications.
How to Learn AJAX: Step-by-Step
You should start to learn AJAX if you have a basic understanding of web development and want to expand that understanding. This is because AJAX expands upon many concepts that you’ll learn as a beginner to web development. Below are a few steps you should follow to learn AJAX:
- Familiarize yourself with HTML, CSS, and JS. You will not get very far learning about AJAX without a good understanding of these three languages and how they work together.
- Research how AJAX is used. Spend some time researching how AJAX is used in the real world. A great example is Google Maps, which uses AJAX to retrieve new maps data.
- Start learning AJAX. Put your web development skills in action and start practicing AJAX techniques. Learn how AJAX is applied to web applications and what methods are used as part of AJAX development.
- Build a project. There is no better way to master AJAX than to practice your skills on a real project when you know the basics. Choose a project you want to work on and exercise your AJAX skills.
- Build an understanding of jQuery. Many applications that use AJAX do so in tandem with jQuery. You should spend some time learning the basics of jQuery so you can write more advanced AJAX applications.
These steps will help you become familiar with AJAX syntax. You can expect to go from researching how AJAX is used to working with AJAX on a real project in a couple of days if you are committed.
The Best AJAX Courses and Trainings
Like any widely-used web development technology, AJAX has a strong bed of resources into which you can tap. This means that you’ll have no trouble finding a resource that can teach you AJAX in no time.
Below we’ve written about the best AJAX courses online.
Online AJAX Courses
Intro to AJAX
- Provider: Udacity
- Cost: Free
- Audience: Intermediate
Intro to AJAX by Udacity teaches how to make asynchronous web requests using AJAX. You’ll learn the basics of APIs and how to retrieve data. By the end of the course, you will have created an app that helps people find a place to move.
- Provider: Udemy
- Cost: $60.00
- Audience: Beginner
This course teaches you how to write a web application using AJAX. You’ll start by making GET requests using AJAX and XMLHttpRequest. Then, you’ll learn how to use AJAX with POST requests.
By the end of taking this course, you’ll have a good understanding of how to create a dynamic web application using AJAX.
- Provider: LinkedIn Learning
- Cost: $25.00
- Audience: Intermediate
The basic principles of AJAX have not changed in years, so this course from 2013 is still incredibly relevant. In this course, you’ll learn the basics of AJAX and how to update the Document Object Model (DOM) with AJAX.
Online AJAX Books
Head First AJAX by Rebecca M. Riordan
This book does not just cover AJAX. It delves deep into all of the adjacent topics you need to know to successfully use AJAX, like JSON and XHTML.
AJAX: The Definitive Guide by Anthony T. Holdner III
You’ll then go on to learn how to manipulate the DOM and add interactive features to web pages. Toward the end of this book, you’ll learn how to apply AJAX principles to business applications.
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AJAX for Dummies by Steve Holzner
AJAX for Dummies is dedicated to the basics of AJAX. This book is excellent for anyone who has never used AJAX before or only has a very limited understanding of AJAX.
By reading this book, you’ll learn about the basics of AJAX, common AJAX frameworks, and how to handle XML and PHP with AJAX applications.
Online AJAX Resources
W3Schools AJAX Guide
Like most W3Schools tutorials, the articles in the AJAX guides are accompanied by code snippets with which you can practice.
Ajax Guide by Mozilla
The Mozilla Developer Network has a detailed tutorial on AJAX. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basics of AJAX. Then, you’ll go on to learn about the fetch API, server-sent events, XML, and other technologies commonly used alongside AJAX.
jQuery AJAX Documentation
The jQuery documentation includes a chapter on AJAX. This documentation walks you through the basics of AJAX and how it is used with jQuery. You’ll learn about AJAX and forms, AJAX events, and the AJAX-related methods that are part of jQuery.
Should You Study AJAX?
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is similar to HTML in that it’s a markup language intended to communicate information about a page’s content. Unlike HTML, it’s used to send data on a page to the browser displaying the page. This accomplishes several things, not least of which is making data readable across otherwise incompatible systems.
You could even add a web server language like PHP and a client side web application development framework like Ruby on Rails. With all of this under your belt, there won’t be much in the world of web development you won’t be prepared for.
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