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Ajax Interview Questions and Answers

When should I use an Java applet instead of AJAX?
Applets provide a rich experience on the client side and there are many things they can do that an AJAX application cannot do, such as custom data streaming, graphic manipulation, threading, and advanced GUIs. While DHTML with the use of AJAX has been able to push the boundaries on what you can do on the client, there are some things that it just cannot do. The reason AJAX is so popular is that it only requires functionality built into the browser (namely DHTML and AJAX capabilities). The user does not need to download and/or configure plugins. It is easy to incrementally update functionality and know that that functionality will readily available, and there are not any complicated deployment issues. That said, AJAX-based functionality does need to take browser differences into consideration. This is why we recommend using a JavaScript library such as Dojo which abstracts browser differences. So the "bottom line" is: If you are creating advanced UIs where you need more advanced features on the client where you want UI accuracy down to the pixel, to do complex computations on the client, use specialized networking techniques, and where you know that the applet plugin is available for your target audience, applets are the way to go. AJAX/DHTML works well for applications where you know the users are using the latest generation of browsers, where DHTML/AJAX "good enough" for you, and where your developers have JavaScript/DHTML/AJAX skills. Many amazing things can be done with AJAX/DHTML but there are limitations. AJAX and applets can be used together in the same UIs with AJAX providing the basic structure and applets providing more advanced functionality. The Java can communicate to JavaScript using the Live-Connect APIs. The question should not be should framed as do I use AJAX or applets, but rather which technology makes the best sense for what you are doing. AJAX and applets do not have to be mutually exclusive.

What kinds of applications is Ajax best suited for?
We don’t know yet. Because this is a relatively new approach, our understanding of where Ajax can best be applied is still in its infancy. Sometimes the traditional web application model is the most appropriate solution to a problem.

Does this mean Adaptive Path is anti-Flash?
Not at all. Macromedia is an Adaptive Path client, and we’ve long been supporters of Flash technology. As Ajax matures, we expect that sometimes Ajax will be the better solution to a particular problem, and sometimes Flash will be the better solution. We’re also interested in exploring ways the technologies can be mixed (as in the case of Flickr, which uses both).

Where can I find examples of AJAX?
While components of AJAX have been around for some time (for instance, 1999 for XMLHttpRequest), it really didn't become that popular until Google took...

What is the XMLHttpRequest object?
It offers a non-blocking way for JavaScript to communicate back to the web server to update only part of the web page.

Does Ajax have significant accessibility or browser compatibility limitations? Do Ajax applications break the back button? Is Ajax compatible with REST? Are there security considerations with Ajax development? Can Ajax applications be made to work for users who have JavaScript turned off?
The answer to all of these questions is “maybe”. Many developers are already working on ways to address these concerns. We think there’s more work to be done to determine all the limitations of Ajax, and we expect the Ajax development community to uncover more issues like these along the way.

How do I access data from other domains to create a mashup with Java?
From your JavaScript clients you can access data in other domains if the return data is provide in JSON format. In essence you can create a JavaScript client that runs operates using data from a different server. This technique is know as JSON with Padding or JSONP. There are questions as to whether this method is secure as you are retrieving data from outside your domain and allowing it to be excuted in the context of your domain. Not all data from third parties is accessible as JSON and in some cases you may want an extra level of protection. With Java you can provide a proxy to third party services using a web component such as a servlet. This proxy can manage the communication with a third party service and provide the data to your clients in a format of your choosing. You can also cache data at your proxy and reduce trips to service. For more on using a Java proxy to create mashups see The XmlHttpProxy Client for Java.

Does Java have support for Comet style server-side push?
Current AJAX applications use polling to communicate changes data between the server and client. Some applications, such as chat applications, stock tickers, or score boards require more immediate notifications of updates to the client. Comet is an event based low latency server side push for AJAX applications. Comet communication keeps one of the two connections available to the browser open to continously communicate events from the server to the client. A Java based solution for Comet is being developed for Glassfish on top of the Grizzly HTTP connector. See Enabling Grizzly by Jean-Francois Arcand for more details.

How do I create a thread to do AJAX polling?
JavaScript does not have threads. JavaScript functions are called when an event happens in a page such as the page is loaded, a mouse click, or a form element gains focus. You can create a timer using the setTimeout which takes a function name and time in milliseconds as arguments. You can then loop by calling the same function as can be seen in the JavaScript example below.

function checkForMessage() {
// start AJAX interaction with processCallback as the callback function

// callback for the request
function processCallback() {

// do post processing
setTimeout("checkForMessage()", 10000);

Notice that the checkForMessage will continue to loop indefinitely. You may want to vary the increment the interval based on activity in the page or your use cases. You may also choose to have logic that would break out of the loop based on some AJAX response processing condition.

Is the XMLHttpRequest object part of a W3C standard?
No. Or not yet. It is part of the DOM Level 3 Load and Save Specification proposal.

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