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AJAX and PHP

Here is an excerpt from a book – Beginning Ajax with PHP: From Novice to Professional.

While the concept of Ajax contains a handy set of functionality for creating actions on the fly, if you are not making use of its ability to connect to the server, you are really just using basic JavaScript. Not that there is anything truly wrong with that, but the real power lies in joining the client-side functionality of JavaScript with the server-side processing of the PHP language using the concept of Ajax.
Throughout this chapter, I will run through some examples of how PHP and Ajax can be used together to design some basic tools that are quite new to Internet applications but have been accessible to desktop applications for ages. The ability to make a call to the server without a page refresh is one that is quite powerful, if harnessed correctly. With the help of the powerful PHP server-side language, you can create some handy little applica-tions that can be easily integrated into any web project.

Why PHP and Ajax?
So, out of all of the available server-side processing languages (ASP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, etc.), why have I chosen to devote this book to the PHP language, as any of them can function decently with Ajax technologies? Well, the truth is that while any of the afore-mentioned languages will perform admirably with Ajax, PHP has similarities with the JavaScript language used to control Ajax—in functionality, code layout, and ideology.
PHP has been and will likely continue to be a very open form of technology. While code written in PHP is always hidden from the web user, there is a massive community of developers who prefer to share and share alike when it comes to their code. You need only scour the web to find an abundance of examples, ranging from the most basic to the most in-depth. When comparing PHP’s online community against a coding language such as ASP.NET, it is not difficult to see the differences.
JavaScript has always been an open sort of technology, largely due to the fact that it does not remain hidden. Because it is a client-side technology, it is always possible to view the code that has been written in JavaScript. Perhaps due to the way JavaScript is handled in this manner, JavaScript has always had a very open community as well. By combining the communities of JavaScript and PHP, you can likely always find the exam-ples you want simply by querying the community.
To summarize why PHP and Ajax work so well together, it comes down to mere func-tionality. PHP is a very robust, object-oriented language. JavaScript is a rather robust language in itself; it is sculptured after the object-oriented model as well. Therefore, when you combine two languages, aged to maturity, you come away with the best of both worlds, and you are truly ready to begin to merge them for fantastic results.

Client-Driven Communication, Server-Side Processing
As I have explained in previous chapters, there are two sides to a web page’s proverbial coin. There is the client-side communication aspect—that is, the functionality happen-ing right then and there on the client’s browser; and the server-side processing—the more intricate levels of scripting, which include database interaction, complex formulas, conditional statements, and much, much more.
For the entirety of this book, you will be making use of the JavaScript language to handle the client-side interaction and merging it seamlessly with the PHP processing lan-guage for all your server-side manipulation. By combining the two, the sky is truly the limit. Anything that can be imagined can come to fruition if enough creativity and hard work is put into it.

Basic Examples
In order to get geared up for some of the more intricate and involved examples, I will begin by showing some basic examples of common web mini-applications that work well with the Ajax ideology. These are examples you are likely to see already in place in a variety of web applications, and they are a very good basis for showing what can be accomplished using the Ajax functionality.
Beyond the fact that these applications have become exceedingly popular, this chap-ter will attempt to guide you as to what makes these pieces of functionality so well-suited to the Ajax concept. Not every application of Ajax is necessarily a good idea, so it is important to note why these examples work well with the Ajax concept, and how they make the user’s web-browsing experience better. What would the same application look like if the page had to refresh? Would the same functionality have even been possible without Ajax, and how much work does it save us (if any)?

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2 Responses to AJAX and PHP

  1. Adam says:

    Good article, but I’ve started using JSON with AJAX instead of XML. Especially now that the new release of the Javascript framework, Prototype, harbours a lot of JSON related functions to parse the JSON instead of using the native, yet unsafe, eval() construct.

  2. admin says:

    Hi adam, I have used Prototype a few months ago. Although probably not as extensive as you are using it right now. It is good but I have found a lighter alternative to it. It is jQuery – it is just as powerful as Prototype and the documentation is really good. I fell in love with jQuery.

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