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CFDJ Authors: AppDynamics Blog, Michael Kopp, Tad Anderson, Bob Gourley, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Related Topics: RIA Developer's Journal, ColdFusion on Ulitzer

RIA & Ajax: Article

What Is AJAX?

AJAX isn't a technology, or a language, and there's no recipe to implement it

Now let's create a small application that could actually benefit you. How many times have you created a registration form that can validate almost everything client-side by using JavaScript, but the username has to be validated upon submission, and if it already exists, you either have to abort and use JavaScript for the alert and send the client back, or cflocate and populate all the form fields by using the session. Wouldn't it be great if we could avoid all that and simple check the username as another JavaScript call? And not even think of creating an existing username array and have it local in the registration form?

It 's not that much different from the file we have. Let's modify the index.cfm file a little. We'll create a basic user registration form with a single fieldname called user and we'll pass that value to the AJAX call. The tricky part here is that AJAX is asynchronous, which means that the function won't return the value you need. Instead the callback function will get called on a different thread. Not to worry, I'll demonstrate how this can be done.

<cfinclude template="core/cfajax.cfm">
<cffunction name="userExists" returntype="boolean">
   <cfargument name="event">
   <cfset var return = false />
   <cfif ListFindNoCase('rob,john,paul',event)><cfset return = true /></cfif>
   <cfreturn return />

Index.cfm now contains a user registration form. On submit, we'll call checkUser(). Note that we must actually call it with a return parameter or we'll always return false! No matter what happens, the form won't get submitted the traditional way. Note that I included 'utils.js' only to call the 'useLoadingMessage' function, which imitates the Gmail loading message while AJAX makes its round trip. 'Execute' sets a callback function, which checks for the ColdFusion return. If true, we'll display an error message, and if the user doesn't exist, we'll manually submit the form by using the JavaScript submit() function. The only difference in the execute call is that we pass the form value to the ColdFusion model. The CFM page is straightforward: all we're doing is a dummy check against a hard-coded list. This is the place where you would put your queries or invoke your components.

You should now be able to set up an AJAX engine, a simple HTML view, make a call, listen, process, and respond using ColdFusion, and process the response in your callback function. In the next part of this article, I'll explain how to pass complex objects by using WDDX serialization, populate tables, use innerHTML properties for advanced JavaScript view manipulations, and provide a full internal rotating banners application that tracks impressions and clicks. I will also cover cross-browser compatibility and offer some little tricks to make your AJAX application as widely compatible as possible.

More Stories By Rob Gonda

Rob Gonda is an industry visionary and thought leader, speaks on emerging technologies conferences nationwide, and combines unique approaches to technology and marketing strategies. As a head of Creative Technologies at Sapient, Gonda is an interactive technical “guru,” who provides the knowledge and experience required to run high-level, multi-channel interactive campaigns that reach millions of consumers. Gonda has more than 15 years of experience in web development and 360 marketing campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, Adobe, Guinness, Toyota, Taco Bell, NBC, and others. His areas of specialty include emerging technologies, marketing strategy, social media, digital out-of-home, mobile, behavioral targeting, and multi-channel synergy. Before joining the strategy and technology leadership teams at Sapient, Gonda was co-founder and chief technical officer at iChameleon, a Hollywood FL-based agency renown for its emerging experiences and creative technology. In addition to his agency work, Gonda the chair for the digital media council at the Advertising Research Foundation, is the former editor-in-chief of the AJAX Developer’s Journal, co-author of “Real-World AJAX: Secrets of the Masters”, a passionate blogger who authors, and contributors to various publications such as Ad Age and Ad Week. He is a frequent figure on the speaker circuit, having presented at conferences from the senate’s CIO emerging technology to SXSW and Omma. Rob’s mission is to develop forward-thinking expertise that will ensure clients are always on par with rapidly changing technologies and maintain its ethos of evolving. You can reach him at rob[at]robgonda[dot]com and read his blog is at

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