Web Based Applications

Relates to PHP and Accessibility, DOM Scripting

Over on WASP Chris Kaminski talks about the future of the web as a platform for developing and deploying applications. In the wake of Javascript's XmlHttpRequest this has become a very popular topic for discussion. The ability to call data from the server via client-side scripting without the need to reload the whole page is an exciting prospect and already some excellent utilities are emerging. Bitflux led the way with Live Search which is under further development over at Colly Logic. Meanwhile, Harry Fuecks, in follow up to his Crouching Javascript, Hidden PHP series, has established the SourceForge project ScriptServer - a complete set of tools for connecting PHP and Javascript together. Although proprietary in detail, Jonathan Zufi applies the M$ implementation of XmlHttpRequest to form validation with VBScript and ASP. On a much grander scale, Gmail and A9 both offer fine examples of web based applications powered by considerable Javascript.

Personally, I am excited by the new opportunities provided by a web based platform and it is nice to see client side scripting appearing in the spotlight again. The communication between client-side and server-side scripts is providing plenty of potential for increased usability and enhanced UI. However, there is one critical concern with any application that puts major emphasis on client side scripting - accessibility. Fortunately A9 still functions with scripts disabled, however GMail currently displays that gratuitous javascript is required message! Done right the enhancements provided by XmlHttpRequest and other DHTML tools can improve the usability of an application without reducing its accessibility. But a dependance on scripting could see a drastic demise to former times and a blank screen served upto 20% of the web!

Posted on Sunday, Oct 03, 2004 at 02:48:18.

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