Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Fjax: Switching the A to F means what?

Category: Flash, Framework

Jay and Steve McDonald didn’t like traditional Ajax (the libraries, the XML parsing (even though you can use JSON of course)) and decided that they could create “smoother, more desktop-like web experiences that AJAX promises”, as they said in an interview at juxtaviews.com.

What is Fjax?

Website: “Fjax is an open, lightweight, cross-browser methodology for Ajax-style web 2.0 development
Fjax is a technique focused on drastically streamlining the XML handling layer of web 2.0 applications. Picture Ajax’s XML parsing and handling with less than 65 lines of code! It’s not a replacement for toolsets that provide presentation-layer visual gizmos. Think of it as a new engine to put under the hood of all the great widgets that are already out there.”

Interview:

Jay: Flash. XML. Approachable. Dynamic. Content.
Steve: fun, easy, compiled, creative, secure.

The website is of course done in Fjax and follows a single page application paradigm (apart from some pages that do get url changes so you can reload them). To get links that work you need to click “Permalink this page”. This is the same issue as you have in the normal Ajax world when you are swapping out content dynamically of course.

The interview asks Jay and Steve about:

  • They say “necessity is the mother of invention”. Is that true with FJAX? Was that your experience in coming up with this technique as an AJAX alternative?
  • Have you used FJAX extensively in your own design work? Have you seen other people use the technology effectively?
  • What’s been the biggest challenge in bringing FJAX to the public consciousness? How has the development community responded?
  • Are you seeking any sort of trademark for the term “FJAX” and have you contacted Adobe about FJAX?
  • With advancements in streaming video, css integration, and xml parsing Flash has suddenly become a staple in the world of Web 2.0. However, this takes some of the “open source” credo out of Web 2.0 development and creates a dependency on a commercial tool. Do you have any thoughts on Flash’s second life?
  • What are Flash’s weaknesses and what kinds of improvements would you make if you were head of product development at Adobe?
  • You’ve been featured in Wired.com for your technique and you have a website dedicated to FJAX. Has your discovery of FJAX, and the subsequent attention, affected your current design/consulting business?
  • In your opinion, what’s the most exciting thing about the Web today?

This could be a nice easy to use framework, and Flash isn’t as scary as it used to be (politically as well as technically). Personally, we think that Fjax IS still Ajax, even if it isn’t AJAX.

Flax

Posted by Dion Almaer at 8:45 am
13 Comments

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2.6 rating from 42 votes

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In Opera 9 FJAX is just “…loading”.

Comment by Stephen Clay — November 9, 2006

Woa! Wait a minute. I’m a Flash developer, and I’m ready to go from Flash to Ajax, because of the lousy, worthless and slow XML support. Flash 9/ActionScript 3 changes this, but “huge install base” is not relevant there.

I would bet my boots on Fjax being way slower than the equivalent Ajax application when it comes to the XML handling, if not else because of having to send data over the bridge.

Looking closer, they don’t actually use the ExternalInterface, as you would expect, but callback by calling a “javascript:”-url… and it looks as though they create a new instance of the Flash application for every call. Hello? Overhead?

And the site didn’t work for me either, works in Safari, but not in OmniWeb, they are both WebKit-based, so it seems that someone has done something weird.

And not supporting the back button is lame. SWFObject+SWFAddress makes it supersimple in Flash, and there are very light implementations for Ajax too.

I’m not even slightly interested. It looks like utter rubbish.

Comment by Theo — November 9, 2006

[…] | Fjax Vía | Ajaxian Enviar a un amigo por E-mail | URI para TrackBack. Categoria: Web2.0 […]

Pingback by AccesoBit.com » Fjax – Cambiando A por F — November 9, 2006

Sorry, but I must continue my rant. These guys don’t know what they are doing.

From the interview:

One of the things I see as a barrier to further adoption in heavy duty projects is that its source file format (.FLA) is not fully accessible, that is, there’s always an interface layer between me and my source code. I can’t easily get at the raw stuff of my work, like I could with a C# or VB.Net project. On a couple of occasions, I have had FLA files corrupt, and I had to back up and rebuild. This doesn’t happen when your source is essentially just a text file.

As of ActionScript 2 (two years old) you have your code in separate class files, the .fla doesn’t actually have to contain anything, and before that you had the #include statement.

Looking at their code, and reading their white paper I’m amazed by their ignorance and lack of understanding.

Comment by Theo — November 9, 2006

If you’re familiar with the American letter-grading system for primary and secondary education, the title of this ‘blog post is instructive :)

Comment by ARWolff — November 9, 2006

Whoa. I’ve never seen someone “reinvent the wheel” to such a degree.

Comment by Mike — November 9, 2006

I am using FF2 and the Adblock Plus extension…. the tooltip example fails hideously due to the3 Adblock addition of the “block flash” tab. Not a fault of the Fjax stuff but still – its a popular browser and a popular add-on – should be considered.

James.

Comment by James Hughes — November 9, 2006

Fjax – Really Innovative or Just Misleading?

Personally, I’m still not 100% buying the idea of using a flash piece as the transport layer between client side and server side. It’s a good idea, it works, but just not well supported still.
By reading the interview with Jay and Steve McD…

Trackback by Programming in the State of 70% Drunkeness — November 9, 2006

Second worse idea ever. First is still Ajax OS.

Comment by Dan — November 9, 2006

[…] Fjax? What’s that about? [::[ Fri 10 Nov 2006 ]::[ General ]::[ ]::] Ajaxian has a post covering the much hyped Fjax alternative to Ajax. Off course the major flaw I see in Fjax is the F (which is the only “new” thing in Fjax anyway), Flash. I personally hate Flash, not because it’s not powerfull and you can’t do a lot of things with it, but let’s be honest, Flash scales horribly. The point of Ajax becoming so popular is the fact that it required no extra plugins, add-ons or whatever you may call it, it just runs out of the box. If now we switch over to a Flash based solution we loose one of the major drivers in Ajax’s short history. As Ajaxian puts it: Jay and Steve McDonald didn’t like traditional Ajax (the libraries, the XML parsing (even though you can use JSON of course)) and decided that they could create “smoother, more desktop-like web experiences that AJAX promises”, as they said in an interview at juxtaviews.com. What is Fjax? Website: “Fjax is an open, lightweight, cross-browser methodology for Ajax-style web 2.0 development Fjax is a technique focused on drastically streamlining the XML handling layer of web 2.0 applications. Picture Ajax’s XML parsing and handling with less than 65 lines of code! It’s not a replacement for toolsets that provide presentation-layer visual gizmos. Think of it as a new engine to put under the hood of all the great widgets that are already out there.” Now, the image I draw may be a bit too dark, but we are moving away from all the REST-Architecture, service modelling, and other great things Ajax has brought to use, exaclty like the comet stuff some months ago. I’ll give Fjax a chance to prove itself but it is has no killer feature that might justify the hype about it right now. […]

Pingback by Fading Roses & Raging Viruses » Fjax? What’s that about? — November 9, 2006

[…] For more indepth and technical coverage see this at Ajaxian. 2.0, ajax, Fjax, Software   « Trackback experiment for ezCount plugin |   […]

Pingback by Because I Write » Blog Archive » Ajax, Web 2.0, Web 2.1 and Fjax — November 10, 2006

FJAX is cool. I’ve seen flash and ajax combination on a chat site. Their developers call it ajax, I guess they are not bothered with the naming, but mixing flash with ajax gave them the best of the both worlds. Flash can maintain a live connection for chat and ajax is best for rendering data into html. Here is the chat implementation http://www.net-bits.net/flashchat20beta/chat.htm

Comment by Bambi — November 11, 2006

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