The End User: Seamless browsing – Technology – International Herald Tribune

The End User: Seamless browsing

By Victoria Shannon International Herald Tribune



Several creative Web sites are using an Internet programming language called Ajax that lets your browser appear to work as instantly as your regular personal computer software, without needing to click through a chain of links or to “refresh” your page to get current information.

The best-known place where this effect can be seen is on Google Maps, where you only have to click and drag the screen, without reloading any data or waiting for new information to be transmitted over the network, to see extended parts of your map.

Several other experiments with Ajax – a term that you don’t need to know any more about than you do about Java – are focused on creating customized home pages. These home pages go way beyond any of the static “personalized” portals that you have been able to create until now.

On these sites, you can not only display headlines, weather and stock prices but also get them from the sites that you prefer. Prefer not to use Google for your search engine? You can plug in Yahoo Search instead. The customization is magnitudes better than in previous iterations. You can adjust colors, box sizes, layout, background pictures and more by just clicking and dragging. This is not at all like commercial software that lets you design a Web site, but mere words cannot do justice to the beauty and simplicity of it.

Try it out for yourself on one of the simplest of these sites, called Netvibes, created by a pair of French developers.There, within a minute or two, you can choose which news feeds or blogs to monitor, pick your city for weather forecasts, move around the box for the search engine of your choice, plug in which product you want to monitor in the price finder site, add a list of frequently used bookmarks and write some “sticky” notes to yourself. You can also get your G-mail, Google’s Web-based e-mail service, on this screen.