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Understand What Is AJAX and How to Use It in Your Code

Reading time 2 min
Published Aug 8, 2017
Updated Sep 24, 2019

Without AJAX, our web browsers would constantly be reloading. AJAX allows performing various processes and updates without reloading websites.

What is AJAX, and what does it stand for? It's an abbreviation of Asynchronous Javascript and XML. Asynchronous refers to a bunch of events that happen in irregular time intervals.

What Is AJAX: Main Tips

  • By combining JavaScript, CSS, and XML, AJAX allows reloading only specific elements of the page instead of the entire page.
  • AJAX is applied to create fast, dynamic, and modern websites, such as Google, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.
  • AJAX is not dependent on what browser it's running on.

AJAX: Standards and Principles

Since AJAX is a technology widely used in modern interactive websites, it has to follow all the modern Internet standards as well. Let's break down its main principles to learn AJAX better:

  • For the asynchronous data exchange with the server, it creates and sends an XMLHttpRequest object for the server to process.
  • DOM and JavaScript are needed for making the website interactive.
  • CSS is used for data styling.
  • As the name of AJAX tells us, the format chosen to transfer the data formatting is XML.

AJAX Explained: Step by Step

To better learn how to use AJAX, let's view a short AJAX tutorial on how the system works:

  1. As an event happens (say, you receive an email), the browser creates a XMLHttpRequest object and sends the request to the server.
  2. After processing the request, the server responds and returns data to the browser.
  3. Then, the browser receives the data, processes it and displays to the user (they see an email notification on their screens).

What Is AJAX: Summary

  • AJAX combines elements of JavaScript, CSS, and XML.
  • It saves us time because instead of the whole page, only certain parts of it are reloaded.
  • AJAX runs on any browser, so a lot of popular websites use it in their programming.