Once I was working on a web project using JSPs and Java and I needed to implement the AJAX. At that time, I had just heard the name of AJAX technology. As usual, the time line was very short, so I searched some good PDF books on AJAX. I opened the books and it increased my worries because these were too lengthy and I thought that I might not be able to read some basic chapters in that short span of time. Anyhow after some skimming and scanning of large materials, I was able to implement AJAX.
I think this article will be very helpful for the beginners of AJAX. I hope that after completing this article, you people will be able to implement AJAX in your applications as well.
The AJAX technique makes web pages more responsive by exchanging data with the web server behind the scenes, instead of reloading an entire web page each time a user makes a change. The best example of AJAX implementation is Yahoo mails. Another example of AJAX implementation is populating the city and state based upon the zip entered in a TextBox or partial page update.
It uses asynchronous data transfer (HTTP requests) between the clients browser and the web server, allowing web pages to request small bits of information from the server instead of whole pages to be reloaded.
Bases of AJAX
AJAX is very simple technology based on the following open standards:
The open standards used in AJAX are supported by all major browsers. AJAX applications are browser and platform independent. You can say it is a Cross-Platform and Cross-Browser technology at the same time. A traditional web application usually submits its input (using an HTML form) to a web server. After the web server has processed the data/request, it will return a completely new web page to the user’s browser.
Because the server returns a new web page each time the user submits input, traditional web applications often run slowly and tend to be less user friendly.
The back bone of the AJAX technology is the
XMLHttpRequest object is the key to AJAX. It has been available ever since Internet Explorer 5.5 was released, but not fully discovered before people started to talk about AJAX and Web 2.0 in 2005.
It is very simple to create an
XMLHttpRequest object like:
available in Internet Explorer 6 and later
var XMLHttp=new ActiveXObject("Msxml2.XMLHTTP")
available in Internet Explorer 5.5
var XMLHttp=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP")
var XMLHttp=new XMLHttpRequest()
Methods Available with XMLHttpRequest
The open() Method
open() method sets up a request to a web server.
The send() Method
send() method sends a request to the server. (Behind the scene. Client’s browser does not refresh or takes any round trip.)
The abort() Method
abort() method aborts the current server request.
ReadyState Property of XMLHttpRequest
readyState property defines the current state of the
XMLHttpRequest object. Here are the possible values for the
The request is not initialized. After you have created the
XMLHttpRequest object, but before you have called the
The request has been set up. After you have called the
open() method, but before you have called
The request has been sent. After you have called
The request is in process. After the browser has established a communication with the server, but before the server has completed the response.
The request is completed. After the request has been completed, and the response data have been completely received from the server.
For your AJAX applications, you will actually only be interested in state 4, i.e., when the request is completed and it is safe to use the received data.
After this basic and precise knowledge of
XMLHttpRequest, now you are able to implement the AJAX technology. How simple it is! Isn't it?
Using the Code
Step 1-Place the Following Code in your HTML File
Select a Employee:
<select name="Employees" onChange="showEmployee(this.value)">
<option value="SABAH">Sabah u din
<option value="HASAN">Hasan Tanvir
<option value="MUZIO">Muzaffar Iqbal
<option value="YASIR">Yasir Siddiq
<option value="WAQAS">Waqas u Din
<div id="EmployeesDIV"><b>Employees info will be listed here.;)</b></div>
alert ("Browser does not support HTTP Request")
if (xmlHttp.readyState==4 || xmlHttp.readyState=="complete")
else if (window.ActiveXObject)
Step 3. Make a Server Side Page (JSP/ASP/PHP/...)
As I am using it with JSP, I am providing you the example page in JSP code. You can change this code according to your requirement of the server side programming language like PHP, ASP, etc. or any other you are working in. Just remember to include the correct name of this file with extension in the
Here is the code in JSP. Save it with the name GetEmployeeInfo.jsp.
// File GetEmployeeInfo.jsp
<%@ page language="java" contentType="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1"
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">
<title>Insert title here</title>
String responseText=new String("");
String OptionValue=(String) request.getParameter("qparam");
responseText="<table width=\"200\" border=\"1\"><tr> <td>Name</td>
<td>Software Engineer </td>
else if (OptionValue.equals("HASAN"))
<td>System Engineer </td> <td>24</td> </tr>";
else if (OptionValue.equals("MUZIO"))
<td>Graphic Designer </td> <td>25</td> </tr>";
else if (OptionValue.equals("YASIR"))
<td>Network Engineer </td> <td>23</td> </tr>";
else if ( OptionValue.equals("WAQAS"))
<td>Recuiter </td> <td>19</td> </tr>";
responseText+="<tr> <td>N/A</td> <td>N/A</td> <td>N/A</td> </tr>";
In the above server side code, you can either get the values from the data base (MYSQL, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Oracle, Microsoft Access, XML). Just one thing to keep in mind that you have to make a valid HTML and send it to the
Response of that page.
AJAX applications can only run in web browsers with complete XML support. Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla Firefox have complete enough support for XML to run AJAX applications.
- 12th December, 2006: Initial post