The advent of Ajax makes a solution to this problem mandatory. Who will create the Ajax applications? Those who don't know how to write an application, or those who don't know the language the application will be written in?
For the past few months I've been thinking about the gory production details of the Ajax hype. We'll get a brave new wave of web applications that leverage the power of XMLHTTP. However, before these applications appear online, somebody must create them. Who?
Now that I'm getting more and more requests to create complex scripts that run into the thousands of lines, I'm increasingly starting to notice that I don't know much about application design. Obviously, I'm going to have to learn the basics of designing applications, or run the risk that my complicated scripts fall apart at the slightest pressure.
In July I was requested to review a book about Ajax. Although I couldn't make as much time as the book required (publishers should start paying serious money if they want serious reviews!), I was immediately captured by the few chapters I read about application design. It was, quite literally, a new world. I had already laboriously discovered some of the design principles the book described without outside help, but others were totally new and exciting. I want to know more about this topic.
Can anyone recommend a good, language-neutral book about application design principles?
More in general, I think that client side programmers can use a bit of education in application design and software development. Typically, our scripts are rather small, both in extent of user interaction and in number of lines, and they don't constitute a serious design challenge.
For this reason, I doubt whether client side programmers are most suited to create Ajax applications. They just don't have enough experience in application design and serious programming.
Besides, the unthinking nonsense reflex that "this applications is so advanced that it's never going to be accessible anyway" starts to work on my nerves.
In my opinion, server side programmers should learn modern web development techniques and theory if they want to write Ajax applications. But they don't. (OK, OK, I'm exaggerating. No doubt there will be server side programmers that want to learn. The majority doesn't, though).
Apart from detail errors like using the
<body> as the root element?), and the W3C DOM specification in general (the
getElementByTag() method?). Unfortunately for his readers, he was a new amateur who didn't have the faintest idea what he was doing.
Nonetheless, before doing so I'd like to ask two questions and make one remark. The first question is:
Suppose you're my boss and order me to write a Java application for you, despite my abysmal ignorance of all things Java. I buy a technical reference book, ask around for the best libraries in town, and with these aids start to create my application. Would you, being my boss, consider this a healthy situation in which I'm guaranteed to deliver a quality product to our clients?
Personally, I'd say No.
The second question is:
Finally, the remark.
You don't have to know all incompatibilities by heart, that's what sites like this one are for. However, no compatibility table or library will ever teach you the same lessons as actually managing live browsers. Once you can identify and avoid common causes of their little head- and heartaches, you can revert to libraries, especially since you yourself can now check and maintain them.
As we've seen, client side programmers know little about application design, and server side programmers know little about modern web development theories. But both sides know a lot about the topics the other side needs to learn.
Serious knowledge sharing between client side and server side programmers would seem to be the obvious solution. Unfortunately, in order to have serious knowledge sharing, we must have mutual respect, first. After all, if you don't respect someone you won't take his knowledge and opinions seriously.
This arrogant and condescending way of thinking annoys the hell out of me. Worse, it's unprofessional. This blatant piece of New Amateurism stands in the way of the true two-way knowledge sharing client side and server side programming so badly need.
No doubt there are companies that understand the ins and outs of both modern web development and application design, and give them equal weight. You may even work for one, lucky you. Nonetheless, the overall pattern seems to tend towards arrogance rather than cooperation. That has to change.
(And no, I'm not going to give the name of the book I reviewed. After my review the publisher seems to have decided the practical chapters needed to be reworked. I haven't yet seen the final version, so I can't really judge it. It might be much better than the draft I read.)
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