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Sending Email with AJAX: Building a Small Application

AJAX has become ubiquitous, thanks to the fact that it gives web developers the ability to create applications that make http requests without reloading the page on which the application is running. It is also extremely versatile and powerful. This article, the first in a series, will start you on the way to creating an AJAX-based email application.

Author Info:
By: Alejandro Gervasio
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January 17, 2006
  1. · Sending Email with AJAX: Building a Small Application
  2. · Getting started: developing the application’s user interface
  3. · Spicing things up: writing the CSS rules for the AJAX email application
  4. · Working with building blocks: defining the (X)HTML markup for the email application

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As part of the Web development community, I’m sure you have seen the remarkable impact AJAX has had on the creation of Web applications that perform most of their operations on the same web page. The capability to develop web-based programs that make http requests without reloading the page on which the application is running, has sparkled the creativity of many developers. It allows them to build http-driven programs which look a lot like desktop applications.

At the time of writing this article, you can already see the influence of AJAX within the Web development universe. It's easy to find small AJAX-driven packages, aimed at offering solutions at specific problems. Likewise, full-featured frameworks are also available, which are in most cases best suited for use within the development of large web projects.

As you’ll probably agree, one of the main advantages of AJAX is definitely its versatility, which turns it into an extremely powerful tool for creating distinct web-based programs that require writing complex client-side application layers. Considering the benefits that I mentioned right at the beginning of this article, during this series, I’ll contribute to expanding the terrain of AJAX-driven applications, by creating a small –- yet extensible -- JavaScript program, which will be capable of performing a few handy tasks, such as sending email messages and adding and displaying contacts. These functions will be housed in a simple-to-use web interface.

Asides from learning how to work with multiple “XMLHttpRequest” objects across the same application, the experience hopefully will illustrate how to interact with a couple of server-side procedural scripts, in this case written in PHP. However, because of the ease and flexibility of the application I plan to build in, you can easily use your preferred server-side language, all without dealing with major maintenance hassles.

Ready to begin learning how this small AJAX-based email application will be developed? Fine, let’s do it together.

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