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Report Reveals AJAX on the Rise

There are now 3.5 million AJAX developers worldwide, a 50 percent increase over the past year, based on results of a survey that will be released next week.

The survey, conducted by Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Evans Data Corp., will also reveal that nearly four out of five, or 78 percent of AJAX applications are developed for the Web and nearly 40 percent are for server-centric applications such as databases, ERP, CRM, as well as rich Internet applications.

Overall the study shows that AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is rapidly becoming a key technology for the Web, as well as mashups, composite applications that draw data from multiple sources. "We're seeing huge growth," said John Andrews, Evans Data's CEO.

"We see AJAX having a key role in the next generation of applications. What we've seen to date is enterprise adoption levels that rival any new technology we've seen in the past three to four years."

Andrews said the reason for its quick acceptance is that AJAX allows an improved user experience without having to refresh a Web page. AJAX development also requires minimal effort beyond traditional JavaScript and XML programming.

AJAX was made popular over two years ago by Google Maps, which, unlike other map sites, gives users the ability to pull down data when they point their mouse to a particular location.

Glenn Barnett, engagement manager at Boston-based Molecular, said half of the RFPs he receives are looking for some form of rich Internet application functionality, up from less than 20 percent a few years ago. That said, he still encounters reluctance by many companies to run AJAX and Flash within enterprises.

"It is rapidly growing but the people who are into it now are those enthusiastic about technology and pushing the edge and being innovative," Barnett said. "The rank and file commoditized applications aren't going to be using what we refer to as Web 2.0 techniques for the next few years."

Just last week, Molecular client Reebok International launched a site that builds on Google Maps' use of AJAX. Reebok's GoRunEasy.com site, aimed at trying to motivate more people to run so they will buy more sneakers, lets individuals create routes using Google Maps. The site lets users upload and share photos, videos and music, while posting commentary and discussion threads.

"The goal is to allow the customers to share running routes and styles and thoughts," Barnett said. "They are trying to create a cultural movement around casual running; they are using an AJAX Web site as the medium."

The Evans report suggests there will be a continued surge in the use of AJAX over the next year. One quarter of those that are using AJAX for enterprise or consumer-facing applications expect AJAX usage to grow by 30 percent, while another 28 percent see it increasing by more than 50 percent.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of ADTmag.com and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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