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Day One Summary @ The Ajax Experience

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As day one comes to an end, it's been a whirlwind of asynchronous requests, CSS Selectors, Chrome, performance and more as we flew through the Ajax Universe. We’ve seen some great comparisons between open source JavaScript frameworks, including the specific focus and goal of each framework that helps to differentiate them from the rest. We’ve also seen how frameworks are on a path of convergence, each with similar solutions to the same problems. However, the likelihood of a unification of the major frameworks is unlikely in the short term.

Of the three developer breakouts, I attended the jQuery sessions which were very insightful. I was surprised to see the growth jQuery has enjoyed over the last 4-6 months, but it’s not too surprising since it is an exceptional framework.

Another highlight of the day was Ben and Dion’s Ajax Universe session where they used created a script to sound a buzzer at random intervals so they would switch turns. This was hilarious and turned out to be a great idea. As they buzzed back and forth, they stepped through the progression of the web over the years, showing where we started and where we are today. Their slides and video should be posted online soon, just stay tuned to ajaxian.com.

Finally, we had a session titled “The Top 10 Cross-Browser Issues”. A panel of experts including Andrew Dupont (Prototype), Chris Heilmann (YUI), John Resig (jQuery), and Dylan Schiemann (Dojo) discussed how their respective frameworks handled browser issues. In particular, the discussion included the issue of browser user agent sniffing versus object/feature detection in order to create workarounds for browser issues. User agent sniffing has been the standard for all current libraries, but the next version of jQuery (1.3) will remove all browser sniffing and will rely solely on feature detection. John received some opposition from the other panelists about this approach, but was able to hold his ground and his vision of a more elegant approach for handling browser issues. John stressed that it is the responsibility of the JavaScript libraries to be good role models for coding practices and to encourage browser manufacturers to fix existing bugs instead of assuming that the developer community has already hacked around them.

The discussion continued around issues with the DOM API and the pain it can cause. Then we moved to a new topic: the influence JavaScript libraries have with the browser vendors (which seems to be getting better). The discussion was fast and insightful. I spoke with one of the staff here and was told that videos of the sessions will be posted online at some point. When they are posted, be sure to check out this session.

That’s all for today, it’s time to head to the Microsoft sponsored “Evening Event”!