Dr. Dobb's is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Channels ▼

Web Development

AJAX: Selecting the Framework that Fits

Andrew is an application architect with T. Rowe Price. Chao Wang is a consultant with Sogeti USA LLC, currently contracted with T. Rowe Price. They can be contacted at [email protected]

In 2006, financial services firm T. Rowe Price envisioned a new release of its company-sponsored retirement plan website. Because thousands of participants accessed the website every hour, the main feature of the new release was to put the most important data at users' fingertips. However, the requirements also clearly stated that performance must not degrade and that additional display components would be added later. In short, a new, compact design presenting more financial information on the same-size homepage had to be created.

Our development team decided that AJAX might solve the real-estate issue. AJAX asynchronously loads web page components without reloading the entire page. This dynamic loading is accomplished via CSS, DHTML, and the XMLHttpRequest or ActiveXObject JavaScript methods. These functions can be used directly, or through AJAX frameworks, which provide ready-to-use widgets that work on most browsers.

Several AJAX frameworks were available, and we had to choose the appropriate one for our project—a process that required a significant amount of research and testing. For instance, our requirements included ongoing support for a variety of browsers and usability that had to be maintained.

We educated ourselves, examined several AJAX libraries, and performed browser and load testing throughout the project. The new AJAX-based retirement-plan website was deployed to production in mid-December 2006. To date, we've received excellent feedback, and we hope you benefit from the process we used to evaluate AJAX libraries and develop our first AJAX-enabled application.

Related Reading

More Insights

Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.