RSS And Ajax – Is That What Web 2.0 Is?

January 17th, 2008

When I wrote my post RSS: How to integrate feeds into your website with AJAX… I never imagined it would be as popular as it has been. People from all over the world have dropped in to either download the code or comment about it. It’s great to write something that people find interesting and feel that they can make use of as it makes you strive to keep on doing it.

When I check Google Analytics the post mentioned above is always the most popular link. It makes me wonder about the applications and situations that people have utilized its content for. Unfortunately the post is a consume, grab and run affair for most its readers.

This jump in, read, disect and apply mentality is a lot of what is driving the Web 2.0 movement. In knowing just how small this blog is and the amount of traffic my post has received – I can only assume that more professional sites are getting hammered for information about the two main Web 2.0 technologies. Namely RSS and AJAX.


RSS has been the cornerstone of bloggers traffic generation possibilites for years now and in nearly every popular website you will see reference to it on more than one occasion. The need to distribute content and market yourself all at the one time is key to RSS’s success.


The savior of the webpage interface. The ability to update page content without refreshing the whole page and hence downloading less content and causing dramatically less flicker annoyance has cast AJAX to the front of the line when it comes to website/web application development. To say that your site doesn’t use AJAX is like saying there was no need to upgrade from Windows 3.11 for Workgroups.

These two technologies have really launched the term Web 2.0. They epitomise everything that it is. Developers rush to be the first out the door with another way to use the two – yet with no real need for the end application. A buzz is generated around the initial “Oh look what I can do!” and turns into “Hey – you should see what they can do”. This mentality creates the rolling stone movement and all other developers want to match or beat the coolness of the last “company’s” release.

In the end some big companies roll in and buy the main players and the smaller guys pull the shutters down. Then the large companies find they have applications that they dont really know what to do with.

RSS feeds have been pilfered beyond believe by Advert junkies. Simply taking the content from a feed and plugging it into their own sites with ads all around it. Creating enough of these types of sites, all linking together and you’ll end up having better pagerank that the site you stole the content from in the first place and as a result reduce the original authors income and killing their buzz into the bargain. Who wants to continue blogging when they don’t even get credit for their own work.

AJAX is a technology that puzzles me. I think that it has only been so widely accepted because there are no other proper alternatives. Its shocking that we are still programming webpages in HTML at this stage. Javascript is archaic as well. Where are the innovators when you need them? Who is saying “HTML is insufficient for anything dynamic and AJAX is just a service pack release for it”.

It is for these reasons that Web 2.0 is dying. Nothing tangible – just two technologies wrapped up in a little buzz.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter…

Categories: AJAX, RSS

RSS: How to integrate feeds into your website with AJAX…

June 2nd, 2007

Update 10th November 2007 : Please note the code attached to this post will no longer function correctly with the latest version of SimplePie.

This post is a continuation of Integrating RSS feeds into your website…

Here I will provide the step by step instructions and code samples to make this a simple task. As explained in the previous post, Simplepie is the feed parser that we will utilise for this example.

What you will need :

  1. Download the Simplepie application
  2. Download the Prototype AJAX framework
  3. A little knowledge of PHP, Javascript and HTML

On the front page of the McNicholl Holdings website you will be able to see the end result of this tutorial. Here is how it happens :

<div id="blog_news"><script type="text/Javascript">get_feed('blog_news');</script></div>

When the page loads the Javascript inside the div element above gets called. I have created a simple Javascript function called “get_feed” which handles the AJAX call. This will be included in the files at the end of the tutorial. Obviously you will want to include this Javascript file in your HTML in the HEAD section :

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Categories: AJAX, RSS, Website

Learning AJAX with the Prototype Framework…

March 11th, 2007
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The Prototype Framework has been selected as my framework of choice for implementing the AJAX version of my website. It abstracts the need to invest time in how the background operations in an AJAX call and subsequent element update happens.

As I am currently an expert in progress, I cannot say with any great conviction that the Prototype framework is the answer to all my prayers, but as far as first impressions go…. I am impressed.

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Categories: AJAX, Website

When AJAX meets a contact form…

February 26th, 2007

So, I have been busy with my full time job lately and when I get home its a bit of a struggle to get back in gear so that I can work on the site. I am a very persistent guy – so I’m battling through it.

I’ve been wanting to create my contact form for the past 2 weeks but getting the time has been difficult. I am glad to say it is now complete. I do have a basic concern that it is not 100% spam protected so I will be relying on my emails spam filter to catch the most of it until I can address the issue in the future. At the moment it is more important to have some facility for feedback than none at all.

It is currently a simple run of the mill contact form. A user enters their name, email address x2, selects a subject and then fills in their question/request. This is as good as it gets. Its how it works in the background that I am wanting to change.

An AJAX implementation is now the standard for all websites to achieve and I am setting my sites on converting to meet that standard.

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Categories: AJAX, Website

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