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Developing Intelligent Web Applications With AJAX (Part 2)

A peek into modern technologies for browser-based applications

Encapsulation ... Again
There is one shortcoming in our CHECKBOX. The way we built it, the HTML injected during the constructor() contributes to the DOM of the page that hosts the HTC. Also global JavaScript variables like_value fall into the global scope of the document they're included in. This is dangerous since we run into the possibility of name clashes: the most obvious case is more than one instance of the same control. In addition, it presents a possibility that our control may accidentally reference other objects with the same names and vice versa.

To put it simply, a special mechanism is required to enable a truly modular approach for object authoring. Fortunately, HTC technology supports an intelligent answer - viewLink.

The easiest way to declare a control as encapsulated is to put one extra declaration between opening and closing PUBLIC:COMPONENT tags:

<PUBLIC:DEFAULTS viewLinkContent/>

Instantly, the control becomes encapsulated; it has its own HTML document tree, atomic to the master document. Every instance of the object has its own set of instantiated values and only public methods and properties can be accessed by the outside code. In other words, the viewLink mechanism fully enables the design and implementation of sophisticated Web applications using a true OO component-based approach.

In particular, we can simplify our code by removing uniqueID suffixes from the definition of internal checkboxes and HTML labels, since we are not afraid of name clashes anymore. Accordingly, we may replace the line:

eval( 'cb_'+uniqueID).checked = ( _value == onValue );

with the

cb.checked = ( _value == onValue );

as well as change addCheckbox() and addLabel() accordingly.

Conclusion
Since the AJAX race has just started, there are no AJAX standards and no commonly accepted RAD tools you can rely on to build your applications. While software vendors have a long way to go to create the robust development platforms, AJAX enthusiasts can prepare by encapsulating reusable blocks of code as business components with a well-defined API.

Navigating in this direction, this article outlined the OO "powers" of the AJAX language - JavaScript. It also illustrated one of the available component-authoring strategies - client-side custom tags technology. While we presented only IE-specific custom tags, we also provide a downloadable example of extensible bindings example for the Mozilla browser. All article-related examples can be downloaded from www.ajaxmaker.com/JDJ/AJAX/partII.html.

More Stories By Victor Rasputnis

Dr. Victor Rasputnis is a Managing Principal of Farata Systems. He's responsible for providing architectural design, implementation management and mentoring to companies migrating to XML Internet technologies. He holds a PhD in computer science from the Moscow Institute of Robotics. You can reach him at [email protected]

More Stories By Anatole Tartakovsky

Anatole Tartakovsky is a Managing Principal of Farata Systems. He's responsible for creation of frameworks and reusable components. Anatole authored number of books and articles on AJAX, XML, Internet and client-server technologies. He holds an MS in mathematics. You can reach him at [email protected]

More Stories By Igor Nys

Igor Nys is a Director of Technology Solutions at EPAM Systems, Inc, a company combining IT consulting expertise with advanced onshore-offshore software development practices. Igor has been working on many different computer platforms and languages including Java, C++, PowerBuilder, Lisp, Assembler since the mid 80's. Igor is currently managing a number of large distributed projects between US and Europe. In addition Igor is the author of the award-winning freeware system-management tools, and he was closely involved in the development of XMLSP technology - one of the AJAX pioneers.

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Most Recent Comments
David 11/29/05 01:24:43 PM EST

This looks like the true bleeding edge, once again creating more headaches in the write many, test many world that web services were supposed to have resolved.

What good is AJAX of this sort when there are differences between just two browsers? Do we really need more technology that is non-standard to the point where we'll need lots of adaptations just to handle the various types of browsers people will use? No doubt this will also mean variations will be needed even among differing versions of the same browser class.

Without a standard set of markup and scripting elements, AJAX is just going to make more bad web sites that work with only one browser but fail with others.

Edwin 11/25/05 03:06:50 PM EST

Software AG sells the Ajax based RIA developement environment CAI COmposite Application Integrator. This product is on the market for several years now. So saying there are no RAD Ajax tools available...

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