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Getting Started with Ajax

by: misterhaan
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Using Ajax

Ajax is an acronym for asynchronous javascript and xml. The important part of this name is asyncronous javascript

XMLHttpRequest Object

Practically everything happens through an XMLHttpRequest object. The first step is creating one. Most browsers support new XMLHttpRequest() but older versions of internet explorer (technically msxml libraries used by internet explorer) required creating an ActiveXObject. To handle both the current method and two older msxml methods, as well as browsers that don

Ajax Requests

Ajax requests should usually be sent to the same server that served the page the Ajax JavaScript is running on, which means the ajax response will also come from that same server. The simplest case is responding with a static file (probably an xml or txt file), in which case all that needs to be done on the server is to make sure the file is in place. More often though it will be necessary to run a script on the server to process the data sent with the request and respond appropriately.


A consideration with using php (or any other server-side language) is that the server is probably set to send headers saying php output is html. With Ajax you may sometimes be using html, but often xml or plain text is more appropriate. For those cases, you should send the appropriate header for the format of the response. In php, this is done with the header function. other server-side languages have similar functions.

The header needed is Content-Type. For xml you want the value set to text/xml, and for plain text text/plain. it

Handling the Response

The final piece to an Ajax feature is to do something based on the response. This is done in the JavaScript function called in the readystatechange event handler. Two more properties of the XMLHttpRequest object are useful at this point: responseText and responseXml. Generally, one or the other fits

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