Wednesday, March 4

Eat, Live and Breathe in Real Time

I discovered this today.

Comet allows you to send data directly to your browser without having to ask for it.
You heard of AJAX? It's a combination of web technologies - which lets you change bits of web pages without having to reload a brand new page. It's been all the rage - though Google apparantly have declared the AJAX revolution complete.

So what's next? Comet's not dissimilar to AJAX - it's not really one thing, it's just various bits of technology used together in a fairly organised manner - the aim: reduce unneccessary processing and data transfer on the net. Simple!

The problem is, how do you know when there's new data available? The user can ask for it, but he'd rather have it appear automatically as soon as it becomes available. AJAX polling helps, because your machine (client side) will ask the website (server side) every now again whether anything's new. But if the answer is "no", it's basically a wasted trip.

Instead, a Comet framework allows the server to send the new data as soon as the event occurs, and have it AJAXed into the browser without you having to do anything, and with the minimim amount of effort.

So the web is going real time!

PS. This popped up on my tweetdeck. I've had a twitter revolution after intially discarding it, when I discovered the beauty of it's ability for memetic transfer, rather than something to do with "friends" (as intended). Ideas propogate, trends ebb and flow. I suspect meme growth in the twittersphere behaves much like fields in paramagnetic substances (incidently, the phenomena of clapping in crowds spreading and dying away is very similar too). So, if anything - it's the closest thing we've got at the moment to "the pulse".

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