Mobile AJAX - Frequently Asked Questions
The first Rich FAQ we are presenting is the long overdue Mobile AJAX FAQ
By: Ajit Jaokar
Oct. 31, 2007 02:15 PM
The first Rich FAQ we are presenting is the long overdue Mobile Ajax FAQ and was created by Ajit Jaokar, Rocco Georgi and Bryan Rieger. We welcome comments and feedback.
Q: What is Mobile AJAX?
Applications created by AJAX are generally classed in the category of Rich Internet Applications (RIA).
Mobile AJAX is the extension of AJAX principles to the mobile environment, which includes other constrained devices such as gaming consoles or set-top boxes featuring Web browsers. While technologically the same thing, Mobile AJAX is looked at as a special case of AJAX, as it deals with problems specific to the mobile space including the areas of constrained devices and constrained Web browsers in general.
Q: Is there a Mobile AJAX checklist/minimum requirements?
At a minimum, the requirements for Mobile AJAX include:
A. On the one hand, Mobile AJAX will be transparent to the end user. For instance, all Nokia devices supporting the S60 and Opera browsers support AJAX - but that makes little difference to the end user. On the other hand, Widgets are enabled by Mobile AJAX. Thus, the visual (end user) manifestation of Mobile AJAX may be in the form of Widgets or rich browser-based applications such as we see on new Nokia phones or Opera browsers.
Q: Why should one do AJAX on mobile phones / what problem does it solve?
A. In general almost any programming language and runtime (or virtual machine) can be used to achieve results comparable to those of Mobile AJAX techniques. The list of alternatives varies with the focus shifting to different features such as cross platform capability, open standards usage, development efforts, cost, and deployment methods, etc., depending on the vendor.
The following is a list of current alternatives to Mobile AJAX:
Java ME (J2ME)
Early releases of Flash Lite supported a very limited version of ActionScript, which proved frustrating to many developers. More recent releases are closely following the versions of Flash and ActionScript that are found in widespread use today on the Internet, this in turn is expected to increase developer interest in the use of the Flash Platform on devices.
Q: How do Flash Lite and Java compare with Mobile AJAX?
Flash doesn't typically require variations in code like Java, but may require variations in visual layout to provide an optimal user experience on varying devices. Newer versions of Flash Lite are working to minimize the additional visual layout work often required for varied screen sizes.
Mobile AJAX applications should work with the same code across varying devices and, through the use of cascading style sheets (CSS), the visual layout should adapt as required on a wide variety of devices. However, see limitations/hurdles of Mobile AJAX below.
Some browsers (Nokia S60) are expected to have plug-in support for Flash Lite in future releases. If such scenarios occur, Flash Lite could be used to complement Mobile AJAX applications in much the same way Flash and AJAX are often used together on the desktop Web.
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