lunatechian (lunatech-ian)

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Rasmus' 30 second AJAX Tutorial

I was reading through the mails in the php-general mailing list and came across this mail by Rasmus about AJAX

I find a lot of this AJAX stuff a bit of a hype.  Lots of people have
been using similar things long before it became "AJAX".  And it really
isn't as complicated as a lot of people make it out to be.  Here is a
simple example from one of my apps.  First the Javascript:

function createRequestObject() {
    var ro;
    var browser = navigator.appName;
    if(browser == "Microsoft Internet Explorer"){
        ro = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
        ro = new XMLHttpRequest();
    return ro;

var http = createRequestObject();

function sndReq(action) {'get', 'rpc.php?action='+action);
    http.onreadystatechange = handleResponse;

function handleResponse() {
    if(http.readyState == 4){
        var response = http.responseText;
        var update = new Array();

        if(response.indexOf('|' != -1)) {
            update = response.split('|');
            document.getElementById(update[0]).innerHTML = update[1];

This creates a request object along with a send request and handle
response function.  So to actually use it, you could include this js in
your page.  Then to make one of these backend requests you would tie it
to something.  Like an onclick event or a straight href like this:

  <a href="javascript:sndReq('foo')">[foo]</a>

That means that when someone clicks on that link what actually happens
is that a backend request to rpc.php?action=foo will be sent.

In rpc.php you might have something like this:

  switch($_REQUEST['action']) {
    case 'foo':
      / do something /
      echo "foo|foo done";

Now, look at handleResponse.  It parses the "foo|foo done" string and
splits it on the '|' and uses whatever is before the '|' as the dom
element id in your page and the part after as the new innerHTML of that
element.  That means if you have a div tag like this in your page:

  <div id="foo">

Once you click on that link, that will dynamically be changed to:

  <div id="foo">
  foo done

That's all there is to it.  Everything else is just building on top of
this.  Replacing my simple response "id|text" syntax with a richer XML
format and makine the request much more complicated as well.  Before you
blindly install large "AJAX" libraries, have a go at rolling your own
functionality so you know exactly how it works and you only make it as
complicated as you need.  Often you don't need much more than what I
have shown here.

Expanding this approach a bit to send multiple parameters in the
request, for example, would be really simple.  Something like:

  function sndReqArg(action,arg) {'get', 'rpc.php?action='+action+'&arg='+arg);
    http.onreadystatechange = handleResponse;

And your handleResponse can easily be expanded to do much more
interesting things than just replacing the contents of a div.


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A discussion was going on in the Linux Gazette's The Answer Gang about a post by RMS on harry potter book. Ben Okopnik, an all-round nice guy and a perl guru, made the following observation -

> If the injunction really orders them not to read the books they have 
> purchased, that strikes me as wrong, but hey, we all know the law is an ass, 
> even in Canada. If I'd bought a book and got an injunction like this, I'd 
> still read it, I just wouldn't tell them ;-)

...and if we extend that line of reasoning just a bit further, it brings
us to (what I think is) RMS' original point. How much of a right do we
grant to our governments to declare arbitrary actions illegal, no matter
how trivial or harmless?

The cynic in me says that governments love having their citizens buy
into a belief that they (the citizens) are guilty of something; people
with something to hide are likely to keep their heads down and be good
little sheep lest they be noticed and shorn. As the saying in Russia
went, "nobody ever asks 'why' when the KGB takes them away." The KGB, of
course, had a matching expression: "if we have the man, we'll make the

If the government is allowed to control trivial aspects of people's
lives, then they will do so. Not in all cases, but... oh, the
"opportunities" that arise. Perhaps this case is not as black-and-white
as it could be, but I surely do see it as a very steep and well-greased
slippery slope - with its entry point just under a hidden trap door.

 Ben Okopnik  Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette 

I agree with his sentiments completely. Most people assume the government to be all knowing and always correct entity. What they forget is that the government is not an amorphous mass, it is made of people - who might have no clue. Anyone has just to look at the Indian government's blunderings in the IT LAW to learn how clueless it is.

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