Book Idea: XmlHttpRequest Enabled Web Pages, or, Pull Web Pages

Since I’ve been writing the book, I’ve been having lots of thoughts about other books to write. It’s that same effect where, for example, someone points out a new type of shoe that you’ve never seen before, and then all the sudden you notice that “everyone” is wearing that shoe.

Push and Pull HTTP

Anyhow, I was looking through Steve’s links, and noticed that he had several bookmarks for XmlHttpRequest,
the JavaScript object that allows you to make HTTP requests in web pages, allowing web pages to pull content instead of just have web servers push content down to them. This is how GMail does it’s magic (according to Charles Miller…I haven’t dissected the source myself).

That all got me thinking that a book focusing on the use of “pull web pages” would be pretty damned interesting. It’d probably be about the size of the XML-RPC book. There’re more ways to do “web page pulling” than with the XmlHttpRequest, and there are, indeed, a handful of “patterns” and plenty of “gotchas” involved with it.

About 2 years ago when we were confronted with “GUI’ing” up our web interface at work, most of us outright rebelled at the concept of web page pulling: I must have said numerous times that it was heretical, or an abomination, or something like that. But, after having used GMail for about a year, I like the idea now. GMail’s so damn cool and works so damn well, and I want web applications I make to work be like it. Google’s new suggest feature is another good example of “web page pulling” that I think is really cool.

I don’t really have any time to work on a book like that until Chip and I finish
the JAAS book. But, if someone’s interested, I’d be thrilled to brainstorm on it. We could probably whip up a rough proposal and outline/ToC in about a week’s worth of calendar time.

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