Archive for the ‘AJAX’ Category

Web 3.0 is Web 1.0 (I Hope)

Friday, June 8th, 2007

I’m hoping web 3.0 goes back to the basics, although I’m not convinced that will be the case. Let me also backtrack and re-iterate that I hate buzzwords, so excuse my use of the terms web 3.0 and web 1.0. I am simply referring to the coming of the new-web. Wow, even that sounds wishy-washy…

Simply put, I am hoping that the next big step for the web is actually two steps backward. My aspiration is that we return to the original vision of Tim Berners-Lee of a semantic web, full of wonderful things such as directories and meaningful links. Sounds boring and lame, but it’s a lot more useful and relevant. The Internet, as we know it now, is riddled with interactivity, video, Flash, AJAX, and many other features. Now don’t get me wrong - these can all be useful, relevant, and sometimes entertaining, but in many cases they simply add clutter and confuse the user experience.

The world of search engine optimization (SEO), in essence, attempts to convert ambiguous, equivocal web pages to relevant, content-rich websites. By altering title tags, META tags, URL structure, headers, linking structure, and content, one is not only optimizing for search engines, but also creating a more usable, people-friendly site. Yes, this is what the web was meant to be.

I can’t say enough good things about sites that attempt to simplify the experience and provide a very focused, clean-cut offering. I’m referring to sites such as Craigslist, Wikipedia, and Their interfaces aren’t cluttered or crammed with images. Pages are legible and usability is tremendous. Add to that such things as clean URLs and a innate linking structure, and we are talking about a whole new type of experience - or an old one that we forgot about.

Google Launches iGoogle - No, It’s Not an Apple Thing…

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

iGoogle logoLast week, Google officially launched iGoogle. This is nothing overly dramatic. It was a simple rebrand of the old Google IG with some added features, including comprehensive widget support. Google is looking to make a splash in the personalized, AJAX homepage space, which is dominated by such players as Yahoo, Netvibes, and Pageflakes.

What intrigues me the most is the new name… iGoogle. Of all the names Google could have chosen, they went the ‘Apple route’ and chose to throw an “i” in front of their brand. A smart move? Or a blatant attempt at jumping on the bandwagon? Who knows… but don’t tell me they hadn’t thought of the potential consequences or discussions that would come about before choosing the name.

I will say that placing an “i” before any word or name has been around on the net for quite some time. In these cases, the “i” was meant to signify “Internet”. But nowadays, everyone attributes the “i” to Apple products such as the iPod or iPhone (lawsuits aside).

Is Google looking to cause a stir and build PR? Is the “i” simply meant to convey the idea of a personalized page? Am I entirely crazy and this post is a waste of time? Any one of these may be plausible. But I would never underestimate or overlook the foresight of this search engine powerhouse.

TutorLinker Links Tutors with Students

Friday, February 9th, 2007

With such a wild, outlandish domain, it’s makes you wonder how they came up with the name TutorLinker for a service that links tutors with students.

Californian college student Sol Eun and a friend built the mash-up to help tutors connect with students for free. Revenues are generated via Google AdSense and Paypal donations. Sol says:

“TutorLinker is a tool which helps you find a tutor in your area for your tutoring needs. It uses the Google Maps API to locate tutors in students’ neighborhood in other words, students can find local tutors by simply typing their address.”

Apparently, the site and service is designed as such because the location of tutors is an important factor in the decision-making process.

An added feature in the inclusion of a ’driving range’. No, not like at a golf course. When a user types in an address, the service automatically locates every nearby tutor and provides directions. In addition, driving distance is calculated and appears by simply hovering the mouse over the tutor’s icon.

Be sure to check out the service, if not for its actual use, then for its coolness as a mash-up.

PS. Find out about updates by reading the TutorLinker blog.

AJAX - Not a Cleaning Agent

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Time for a grammar lesson. In the new web, techies are very familiar with the term ‘AJAX’. It is synonymous with web 2.0. However, non-techies may need a short lesson on the topic.

What AJAX isn’t:

  • A Greek heroAJAX logo
  • An automobile
  • A small city in Ontario, Canada
  • A household cleaner
  • A Dutch football club

What AJAX is:

An abbreviated form of the term ‘Asynchronous JAvaScript and XML’. Wikipedia defines AJAX as:

“a web development technique for creating interactive web applications. The intent is to make web pages feel more responsive by exchanging small amounts of data with the server behind the scenes, so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user makes a change. This is meant to increase the web page’s interactivity, speed, and usability.”

Simply put, you can drag, click, and perform actions on a page without having to refresh it.

Major PROs of AJAX

  1. Bandwidth utilization
  2. Interactivity

Major CONs of AJAX

  1. Usability
  2. Response-time concerns

 The most widely noted example of an AJAX-based web application is Google Maps. Using this application, you can bring up a particular map, then proceed to drag and zoom without having to refresh the page. Another example is Snipshot, an online photo editing tool. Without having to refresh the page, you can rotate, crop, and adjust colour settings of a particular photo.

One big drawback of AJAX is lack of functionality for advertisers. Because the page does not reload and the user may spend several minutes on that page, a website’s overall number of page views will decrease dramatically with the installation of AJAX. This problem will need to be addressed in the near future, otherwise potential suitors will shy away from its functionality. 

The term itself was coined back in February 2005 by Jesse James Garrett, information architect and founder of Adaptive Path. It appeared in his article AJAX: A New Approach to Web Applications.

If you can successfully add AJAX to your business plan, you will have better chance of roping in VC money. Couple that with tagging and RSS, and it’s a sure thing. God bless buzzwords.