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2.2 A Technique Without a Name

Now, if I had been smart, I would have given the technology a name then and there, and thus ensured my place in Web history, shutting up the client as well. After all, a name is a thing of power, and the client, not wanting to sound stupid for not knowing what the acronym meant, would have saved more than 2 hours of my life that were spent re-enacting the scene of peasants with pitch forks from the 1931 version of Frankenstein, minus the tongs. Unfortunately, I drew an absolute blank and just called it as it was.

With apologies to the people who make the cleanser and the detergent, legend has it that the original Ajax was the second most powerful of the Greek warriors at Troy. Even though he had some issues (who in the Illiad didn't?), his strength and skill in battle were second to none (well, okay, second only to Achilles). In naming the technology Ajax, Jesse James Garrett gave the technology both Ajax's strengths and issues.

2.2.1 Names

An old idea dates back to the dawn of human civilization that to know someone's or something's true name is to have power over that person or thing. It is one of the basic concepts of what is commonly referred to as magic, and although magic isn't real, the idea that names can hold power isn't very far from the truth. Consider, if you will, a resumé. If ever a document held names of power, a resumé is it. Not very long ago, resumés invoking words such as JavaScript, DHTML, and XML were looked upon with envy, perhaps even awe. After all, for a little while, it seemed as though web developers were rock stars that, thankfully, were never asked to sing. Unfortunately, those names are now considered passé or even a little old-fashioned.

In his essay describing this web development technique, Mr. Garrett did one final thing; he gave it a name, Ajax, and thus gave us power over it. The acronym refers to Asynchronous JavaScript And XML, and whether you love or hate the name, the technology now has a name. At the very least, this naming means that we can describe what we've been doing at work. Ajax is a lot easier to say than, "I've been using client-side JavaScript, SOAP, and XML to obtain data directly from the server using XMLHTTP instead of the standard unload/reload cycle."

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