What is the relationship between Mobile Ajax and Mobile Widgets?


This is a part of the Mobile Ajax FAQ which I, Rocco and Bryan are working on .. Due to my travel last week at MIT and Ajaxworld, that’s been a bit delayed but we hope to release it this week.

Meanwhile, I am putting out a few questions from the FAQ so we get ongoing feedback

Here is one ..

What is the relationship between Mobile Ajax and Mobile Widgets?

In its entirety, Ajax comprises of XMLHTTPReq + DOM Scripting + XHTML/CSS. Functionally, two things are happening here: Data is being fetched asynchronously and the information thus fetched is being rendered on the client through Javascript.

Most widget engines are using the asynchronous part uniformly but are making their own changes to the rendering(display) part. While this leads to fragmentation of Widget technology, the fact still remains that Ajax i.e. Asynchronous I/O and visual rendering are the core technologies underpinning widgets

From simple beginnings, Widgets(powered by Ajax), are taking a life of their own(for example Widgets calling other widgets).

When it comes to the mobile environment, we are seeing the same phenomenon i.e. we see Mobile Widgets powered by Mobile Ajax and also some fragmentation

Also, we are seeing the first attempts of standardization from the W3C

The significance of Mobile Widgets lies in two factors

a) As full web browsers become the norm on mobile devices(by that we mean a browser supporting Web technologies like Javascipt, CSS etc), Widgets can span the Web and the Mobile Web. This is very significant because Long Tail applications are now possible and we will now have the Web as a mechanism to distribute mobile applications(widgets). With Widgets calling other widgets, we could soon see an entire Widget framework leading to Long Tail applications powered by Widgets

Opera is already doing this with their Widget platform and we expect Apple dashboard widgets may also appear in the iPhone

b) Offline widgets are an interesting variant. For offline widgets to work, we need an API which allows the widget to work offline and then resync/transfer data when the connection is available again

Thus, Mobile Ajax powers Mobile Widgets and Mobile Widgets are significant because they span the Web and the Mobile Web(for instance Apple dashboard widgets). By doing so, they enable Long Tail mobile applications(because the Web now acts as a distribution platform for Mobile Widgets)