Ajax Interview Questions & Answers part 1

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Q: – What's AJAX ?

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a newly coined term for two powerful browser features that have been around for years, but were overlooked by many web developers until recently when applications such as Gmail, Google Suggest, and Google Maps hit the streets.

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or Ajax (pronounced "Aye-Jacks"), is a web development technique for creating interactive web applications using a combination of  XHTML (or HTML) and CSS for marking up and styling information. (XML is commonly used, although any format will work, including preformatted HTML, plain text, JSON and even EBML).
The Document Object Model manipulated through JavaScript to dynamically display and interact with the information presented
The XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data asynchronously with the web server. In some Ajax frameworks and in some situations, an IFrame object is used instead of the XMLHttpRequest object to exchange data with the web server.
Like DHTML, LAMP, or SPA, Ajax is not a technology in itself, but a term that refers to the use of a group of technologies together. In fact, derivative/composite technologies based substantially upon Ajax, such as AFLAX, are already appearing.
Ajax applications are mostly executed on the user's computer; they can perform a number of tasks without their performance being limited by the network. This permits the development of interactive applications, in particular reactive and rich graphic user interfaces.
Ajax applications target a well-documented platform, implemented by all major browsers on most existing platforms. While it is uncertain that this compatibility will resist the advent of the next generations of browsers (in particular, Firefox), at the moment, Ajax applications are effectively cross-platform.
While the Ajax platform is more restricted than the Java platform, current Ajax applications effectively fill part of the one-time niche of Java applets: extending the browser with portable, lightweight mini-applications.

Ajax isn’t a technology. It’s really several technologies, each flourishing in its own right, coming together in powerful new ways. Ajax incorporates:
* standards-based presentation using XHTML and CSS;
* dynamic display and interaction using the Document Object Model;
* data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT; * asynchronous data retrieval using XMLHttpRequest;
* and JavaScript binding everything together.

Q: – Who’s Using Ajax ?

Google is making a huge investment in developing the Ajax approach. All of the major products Google has introduced over the last year — Orkut, Gmail, the latest beta version of Google Groups, Google Suggest, and Google Maps — are Ajax applications. (For more on the technical nuts and bolts of these Ajax implementations, check out these excellent analyses of Gmail, Google Suggest, and Google Maps.) Others are following suit: many of the features that people love in Flickr depend on Ajax, and Amazon’s A9.com search engine applies similar techniques.
These projects demonstrate that Ajax is not only technically sound, but also practical for real-world applications. This isn’t another technology that only works in a laboratory. And Ajax applications can be any size, from the very simple, single-function Google Suggest to the very complex and sophisticated Google Maps.

At Adaptive Path, we’ve been doing our own work with Ajax over the last several months, and we’re realizing we’ve only scratched the surface of the rich interaction and responsiveness that Ajax applications can provide. Ajax is an important development for Web applications, and its importance is only going to grow. And because there are so many developers out there who already know how to use these technologies, we expect to see many more organizations following Google’s lead in reaping the competitive advantage Ajax provides.
Moving Forward

The biggest challenges in creating Ajax applications are not technical. The core Ajax technologies are mature, stable, and well understood. Instead, the challenges are for the designers of these applications: to forget what we think we know about the limitations of the Web, and begin to imagine a wider, richer range of possibilities

Q: – Should I consider AJAX?

AJAX definitely has the buzz right now, but it might not be the right thing for you. AJAX is limited to the latest browsers, exposes browser compatibility issues, and requires new skill-sets for many. There is a good blog entry by Alex Bosworth on AJAX Mistakes which is a good read before you jump full force into AJAX.
On the other hand you can achieve highly interactive rich web applications that are responsive and appear really fast. While it is debatable as to whether an AJAX based application is really faster, the user feels a sense of immediacy because they are given active feedback while data is exchanged in the background. If you are an early adopter and can handle the browser compatibility issues, and are willing to learn some more skills, then AJAX is for you. It may be prudent to start off AJAX-ifying a small portion or component of your application first. We all love technology, but just remember the purpose of AJAX is to enhance your user's experience and not hinder it.

Q: – What parts of the HTML_AJAX API are stable?

We don't have a list right now, but most of the API is stable as of 0.3.0. There should be no major changes at this point, though there will be lots of new additions.

Q: – Does AJAX work with Java?

Absolutely. Java is a great fit for AJAX! You can use Java Enterprise Edition servers to generate AJAX client pages and to serve incoming AJAX requests, manage server side state for AJAX clients, and connect AJAX clients to your enterprise resources. The JavaServer Faces component model is a great fit for defining and using AJAX components.

Q: – What is the minimum version of PHP that needs to be running in order to use HTML_AJAX?

The oldest PHP version i've fully tested HTML_AJAX is 4.3.11, but it should run on 4.2.0 without any problems. (Testing reports from PHP versions older then 4.3.11 would be appreciated.)

Q: – Why does HTML_AJAX hang on some server installs

If you run into an HTML_AJAX problem only on some servers, chances are your running into a problem with output compression. If the output compression is handled in the PHP config we detect that and do the right thing, but if its done from an apache extension we have no way of knowing its going to compress the body. Some times setting HTML_AJAX::sendContentLength to false fixes the problem, but in other cases you'll need to disabled the extension for the AJAX pages.
I've also seen problems caused by debugging extensions like XDebug, disabling the extension on the server page usually fixes that. Questions dealing with Using HTML_AJAX, and general JavaScript development

Q: – Describe the formats and protocols used by AJAX.

Ajax uses HTTP’s GET or POST. AJAX also uses XMLHttpRequest protocol for requesting to the web server.
AJAX uses JSON format to communicate between client and server. UED or URL encoded data formats can also be used.

Q: – What are the security issues with AJAX?

The Ajax calls are sent in plain text format, this might lead to insecure database access. The data gets stored on the clients browser, thus making the data available to anyone. It also allows monitoring browsing sessions by inserting scripts.

Q: – Won't my server-side framework provide me with AJAX?

You may be benefiting from AJAX already. Many existing Java based frameworks already have some level of AJAX interactions and new frameworks and component libraries are being developed to provide better AJAX support. I won't list all the Java frameworks that use AJAX here, out of fear of missing someone, but you can find a good list at www.ajaxpatterns.org/Java_Ajax_Frameworks. If you have not chosen a framework yet it is recommended you consider using JavaServer Faces or a JavaServer Faces based framework. JavaServer Faces components can be created and used to abstract many of the details of generating JavaScript, AJAX interactions, and DHTML processing and thus enable simple AJAX used by JSF application developer and as plug-ins in JSF compatible IDE's, such as Sun Java Studio Creator.

Q: – Describe the formats and protocols used by AJAX.

Ajax uses HTTP’s GET or POST. AJAX also uses XMLHttpRequest protocol for requesting to the web server.
AJAX uses JSON format to communicate between client and server. UED or URL encoded data formats can also be used.

Q: – What are the security issues with AJAX?

The Ajax calls are sent in plain text format, this might lead to insecure database access. The data gets stored on the clients browser, thus making the data available to anyone. It also allows monitoring browsing sessions by inserting scripts.

Q: – What is the disadvantage of AJAX?

The disadvantages of AJAX are:

  • Search engines would not be able to index an AJAX application.
  • The server information can not be accessed within AJAX.
  • AJAX is not well integrated with any browser.
  • ActiveX requests are enabled only in IE 5 and IE6
  • Data of all requests is URL-encoded, which increases the size of the request.

Submitted By:-Rajender Sharma            Email-ID: – rajender.sharma@rediff.com

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