Diving into AJAX and toolkits

Since we’ve not had work since Thursday, I’ve decided to take this time to actually sit down and try working with AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. I’ve refreshed my AJAX knowledge on a few light online articles (Harry Maugans’ Tutorial: AJAX Made Easy and cheat sheets for Ajax and JavaScript (specifically) are good ones) and am now busily reading and trying out examples on Beginning AJAX with PHP: From Novice to Professional by Lee Babin (the book’s pretty good).

The quick verdict is: AJAX isn’t that scary. I’ll admit that like most “old school” Web developers, I tend to stay away from JavaScript. JavaScript = bad. But I’ve had to learn the intricacies of the Document Object Model (DOM) through work and while I’d still prefer PHP any day, I found some respect an admiration for JS. (And even more annoyances with Internet Explorer :p) And JS is pretty much the only thing you need for AJAX, after all.

I’d been looking at various AJAX/JS libraries for possible future use, something I can play with. Since I learn by implementing stuff, all this newfound knowledge will soon find its way into an AJAX modification for Enthusiast (at least). I started looking into what libraries are out there, and came up with the following:

It’s still a toss-up as to which library I lean more towards, and I’m sure there are other libraries out there (and there are still the bigger frameworks to look at). AJAX Patterns has a rather comprehensive list of frameworks as well as a small comparison matrix. The JavaScript Toolkit Comparison matrix at JA-SIG and the AJAX Toolkit Shootout matrix at Summer of Code are also interesting reads, although they are a bit more dated.

If anyone’s using an AJAX/JS library/framework currently, I would love inputs and general opinions. :)