Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ajax Interview Questions And Answers Set - 2

Ajax Interview Questions And Answers Set - 2

Should I use an HTTP GET or POST for my AJAX calls?
AJAX requests should use an HTTP GET request when retrieving data where the data will not change for a given request URL. An HTTP POST should be used when state is updated on the server. This is in line with HTTP idempotency recommendations and is highly recommended for a consistent web application architecture.

How do I debug JavaScript?
There are not that many tools out there that will support both client-side and server-side debugging. I am certain this will change as AJAX applications proliferate. I currently do my client-side and server-side debugging separately. Below is some information on the client-side debuggers on some of the commonly used browsers.

* Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape - Have a built in debugger Venkman which can be helpful but there is a Firefox add on known as FireBug which provides all the information and AJAX developer would ever need including the ability to inspect the browser DOM, console access to the JavaScript runtime in the browser, and the ability to see the HTTP requests and responses (including those made by an XMLHttpRequest). I tend to develop my applications initially on Firefox using Firebug then venture out to the other browsers.
* Safari - Has a debugger which needs to be enabled. See the Safari FAQ for details.
* Internet Explorer - There is MSDN Documentation on debugging JavaScript. A developer toolbar for Internet Explorer may also be helpful.

While debuggers help a common technique knowing as "Alert Debugging" may be used. In this case you place "alert()" function calls inline much like you would a System.out.println. While a little primitive it works for most basic cases. Some frameworks such as Dojo provide APIs for tracking debug statements.

How do I provide internationalized AJAX interactions?
Just because you are using XML does not mean you can properly send and receive localized content using AJAX requests. To provide internationalized AJAX components you need to do the following:

* Set the charset of the page to an encoding that is supported by your target languages. I tend to use UTF-8 because it covers the most languages. The following meta declaration in a HTML/JSP page will set the content type:

* In the page JavaScript make sure to encode any parameters sent to the server. JavaScript provides the escape() function which returns Unicode escape strings in which localized text will appear in hexadecimal format. For more details on JavaScript encoding see Comparing escape(), encodeURI(), and encodeURIComponent().
* On the server-side component set the character encoding using the HttpServletRequest.setCharacterEncoding() method. Before you access the localized parameter using the HttpServletRequest.getParameter() call. In the case of UTF this would be request.setCharactherEncoding("UTF-8");.
A server-side component returning AJAX responses needs to set the encoding of the response to the same encoding used in the page.
response.getWriter().write(" invalid ");

For more information on using AJAX with Java Enterprise Edition technologies see AJAX and Internationalization and for developing multi-lingual applications see Developing Multilingual Web Applications Using JavaServer Pages Technology.

Some of the Google examples you cite don’t use XML at all. Do I have to use XML and/or XSLT in an Ajax application?
No. XML is the most fully-developed means of getting data in and out of an Ajax client, but there’s no reason you couldn’t accomplish the same effects using a technology like JavaScript Object Notation or any similar means of structuring data for interchange.

Are Ajax applications easier to develop than traditional web applications?
Not necessarily. Ajax applications inevitably involve running complex JavaScript code on the client. Making that complex code efficient and bug-free is not a task to be taken lightly, and better development tools and frameworks will be needed to help us meet that challenge.

When do I use a synchronous versus a asynchronous request?
Good question. They don't call it AJAX for nothing! A synchronous request would block in page event processing and I don't see many use cases where a synchronous request is preferable.

How do I handle concurrent AJAX requests?
With JavaScript you can have more than one AJAX request processing at a single time. In order to insure the proper post processing of code it is recommended that you use JavaScript Closures. The example below shows an XMLHttpRequest object abstracted by a JavaScript object called AJAXInteraction. As arguments you pass in the URL to call and the function to call when the processing is done.
function AJAXInteraction(url, callback) {

var req = init();
req.onreadystatechange = processRequest;

function init() {
if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
return new XMLHttpRequest();
} else if (window.ActiveXObject) {
return new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");

function processRequest () {
if (req.readyState == 4) {
if (req.status == 200) {
if (callback) callback(req.responseXML);

this.doGet = function() {"GET", url, true);

this.doPost = function(body) {"POST", url, true);
req.setRequestHeader("Content-Type", "

function makeRequest() {
var ai = new AJAXInteraction("processme",
function() { alert("Doing Post Process");});

The function makeRequest() in the example above creates an AJAXInteraction with a URL to of "processme" and an inline function that will show an alert dialog with the message "Doing Post Process". When ai.doGet() is called the AJAX interaction is initiated and when server-side component mapped to the URL "processme" returns a document which is passed to the callback function that was specified when the AJAXInteraction was created.
Using this closures insures that the proper callback function associated with a specific AJAX interaction is called. Caution should still be taken when creating multiple closure objects in that make XmlHttpRequests as to there is a limited number of sockets that are used to make requests at any given time. Because there are limited number of requests that can be made concurrently. Internet Explorer for example only allows for two concurrent AJAX requests at any given time. Other browsers may allow more but it is generally between three and five requests. You may choose to use pool of AJAXInteraction objects.
One thing to note when making multiple AJAX calls from the client is that the calls are not guaranteed to return in any given order. Having closures within the callback of a closure object can be used to ensure dependencies are processed correctly.
There is a discussion titled Ajaxian Fire and Forget Pattern that is helpful.

What do I do on the server to interact with an AJAX client?
The "Content-Type" header needs to be set to"text/xml". In servlets this may be done using the HttpServletResponse.setContentType()should be set to "text/xml" when the return type is XML. Many XMLHttpRequest implementations will result in an error if the "Content-Type" header is set The code below shows how to set the "Content-Type".


You may also want to set whether or not to set the caches header for cases such as autocomplete where you may want to notify proxy servers/and browsers not to cache the results.

response.setHeader("Cache-Control", "no-cache");

Note to the developer: Internet Explorer will automatically use a cached result of any AJAX response from a HTTP GET if this header is not set which can make things difficult for a developer. During development mode you may want set this header. Where do I store state with an AJAX client

As with other browser based web applications you have a few options which include:
* On the client in cookies - The size is limited (generally around 4KB X 20 cookies per domain so a total of 80KB) and the content may not be secure unless encrypted which is difficult but not impossible using JavaScript.
* On the client in the page - This can be done securely but can be problematic and difficult to work with. See my blog entry on Storing State on the Client for more details on this topic.
* On the client file system - This can be done if the client grants access to the browser to write to the local file system. Depending on your uses cases this may be necessary but caution is advised.
* On the Server - This is closer to the traditional model where the client view is of the state on the server. Keeping the data in sync can be a bit problematic and thus we have a solution Refreshing Data on this. As more information processing and control moves to the client where state is stored will need to be re-evaluated.

Whats with the -alpha in the install instructions?
HTML_AJAX hasn't had a stable release yet and the pear installer doesn't install non stable packages by default unless you specify a version.

How do I submit a form or a part of a form without a page refresh?
When creating a form make sure that the "form" element "onSubmit" attribute is set to a JavaScript function that returns false.

You can also submit data by associating a function with a form button in a similar way.

Note that the form "onSubmit" attribute is still set. If the user hits the enter key in the text field the form will be submitted so you still need to handle that case.
When updating the page it is recommend you wait to make sure that the AJAX update of the form data was successful before updating the data in the page. Otherwise, the data may not properly update and the user may not know. I like to provide an informative message when doing a partial update and upon a successful AJAX interaction I will then update the page.