AJAX Interview Questions

Some useful and most frequently asked interview questions on Ajax

If you are looking at jQuery Questions then please take a look at:
Javascript jQuery Interview programming questions

1. What is AJAX?
AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a newly coined term for two powerful browser features that have been around for years, but were overlooked by many web developers until recently when applications such as Gmail, Google Suggest, and Google Maps hit the streets.
AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML.

2. Is the server or the client in control in AJAX?
It depends. With AJAX the answer is more in between. Control can be more centralized in a server-side component or as a mix of client-side and server-side controllers.

* Centralized server-side controller - When having a more centralized controller the key is to make sure the data in client-side page is in sync with that of the server. Some applications may keep all the state on the server and push all updates to client DOM via a simple JavaScript controller.

* Client and server-side controllers - This architecture would use JavaScript to do all presentation related control, event processing, page manipulation, and rendering of model data on the client. The server-side would be responsible for things such as business logic and pushing updated model data to the client. In this case the server would not have intimate knowledge of the presentation short of the initial page that would be sent to the client page request.

There are some use cases where an entire AJAX application can be written in a single page. Keep in mind if you choose this type of architecture that navigation and bookmarking should be considered.
Both methods are viable depending on what you are trying to accomplish. I tend to prefer spreading the control across the client and server.

3. What is the XMLHttpRequest object?
It offers a non-blocking way for JavaScript to communicate back to the web server to update only part of the web page.

4. How do I get the XMLHttpRequest object?
Depending upon the browser... if (window.ActiveXObject) { // Internet Explorer http_request = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP"); } else if.

5. How do I abort the current XMLHttpRequest?
Just call the abort() method on the request.

6. What is the role of Ajax in enhancing user experience?

7. Which browsers support AJAX?
Internet Explorer 5.0 and up, Opera 7.6 and up, Netscape 7.1 and up, Firefox 1.0 and up, Safari 1.2 and up, among others

8. What are the different frameworks available In AJAX?
There are many libraries/frameworks out there (and many more emerging) that will help abstract such things as all the nasty browser differences. Three good libraries are The Dojo Toolkit, Prototype, and DWR.

* The Dojo Toolkit contains APIs and widgets to support the development of rich web applications. Dojo contains an intelligent packaging system, UI effects, drag and drop APIs, widget APIs, event abstraction, client storage APIs, and AJAX interaction APIs. Dojo solves common usability issues such as support for dealing with the navigation such as the ability to detect the browser back button, the ability to support changes to the URL in the URL bar for bookmarking, and the ability to gracefully degrade when AJAX/JavaScript is not fully support on the client. Dojo is the Swiss Army Knife of JavaScript libraries. It provides the widest range of options in a single library and it does a very good job supporting new and older browsers.

* Prototype focuses on AJAX interactions including a JavaScript AJAX object that contains a few objects to do basic tasks such as make a request, update a portion of a document, insert content into a document, and update a portion of a document periodically. Prototype JavaScript library contains a set of JavaScript objects for representing AJAX requests and contains utility functions for accessing in page components and DOM manipulations. Script.aculo.us and Rico are built on top of Prototype and provide UI effects, support for drag and drop, and include common JavaScript centric widgets. If you are just looking to support AJAX interactions and a few basic tasks Prototype is great. If you are looking for UI effects Rico and Script.aculo.us are good options.

* Yahoo UI Library is a utility library and set of widgets using the APIs to support rich clients. The utility library includes support for cross-browser AJAX interactions, animation, DOM scriptging support, drag and drop, and cross browser event support. The Yahoo UI Library is well documnented and contains many examples.

* DWR (Dynamic Web Remoting) is a client-side and server-side framework that focuses on allowing a developer to do RPC calls from client-side JavaScript to plain old Java objects in a Java Enterprise Edition web container. On the server side DWR uses a Servlet to interact with the Java objects and returns object representations of the Java objects or XML documents. DWR will be easy to get up and running and plays well with other Java technologies. If you are looking for a client-side and server-side framework that integrates well use DWR.

* Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is client/server framework provided by Google that allows a developer to write an AJAX application in pure Java. The GWT takes care of the details of generating all the client-side code using a Java-to-JavaScript compiler. One of the key benefits of the GWT Software Developer Kit (SDK) is that it allows you to debug your applications in what is known as GWT hosted mode using an embedded browser (IE on Windows and Mozilla/Gecko on Linux) that is tied to the toolkit. In GWT hosted mode you setup through the code and debug it as it is running on both the client and server. The GWT contains a default set of widgets and widget containers. An application is built by coding a set of widgets and containers together much like would be done in a Swing application. The GWT Software Developer Kit (SDK) is limited to Linux and Windows XP/2000 though the web applications it generates are compatible with the latest generation of the mainstream browsers.

There are many new and emerging libraries for JavaScript and this list only reviews some of the more common libraries. When making a choice choose the library which suites your needs the best. While it might be better to choose one, there is nothing stopping you from using more than one framework. For a more extensive list of client-side frameworks see: Survey of AJAX/JavaScript Libraries.

9. Are there any security issues with AJAX?
JavaScript is in plain view to the user with by selecting view source of the page. JavaScript can not access the local filesystem without the user's permission. An AJAX interaction can only be made with the servers-side component from which the page was loaded. A proxy pattern could be used for AJAX interactions with external services.

You need to be careful not to expose your application model in such as way that your server-side components are at risk if a nefarious user to reverse engineer your application. As with any other web application, consider using HTTPS to secure the connection when confidential information is being exchanged.

10. 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.

11. Does AJAX work with Java?
Absolutely. Java is a great fit for AJAX! You can use Java Enterprise Edition servers to generate AJAX client pages and to serve incoming AJAX requests, manage server side state for AJAX clients, and connect AJAX clients to your enterprise resources. The JavaServer Faces component model is a great fit for defining and using AJAX components.

12. Is Ajax a technology platform or is it an architectural style?
It’s both. Ajax is a set of technologies being used together in a particular way.

13. Is AJAX code cross browser compatible?
Not totally. Most browsers offer a native XMLHttpRequest JavaScript object, while another one (Internet Explorer) require you to get it as an ActiveX object.

14. Is Ajax just another name for XMLHttpRequest?
No. XMLHttpRequest is only part of the Ajax equation. XMLHttpRequest is the technical component that makes the asynchronous server communication possible; Ajax is our name for the overall approach described in the article, which relies not only on XMLHttpRequest, but on CSS, DOM, and other technologies.

15. Is it possible to set session variables from javascript?
It's not possible to set any session variables directly from javascript as it is purely a client side technology.

16. Do Ajax applications always deliver a better experience than traditional web applications?
Not necessarily. Ajax gives interaction designers more flexibility. However, the more power we have, the more caution we must use in exercising it. We must be careful to use Ajax to enhance the user experience of our applications, not degrade it.

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