Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tech: Remember the milk - and Ajax

Remember the milk is a website originating in Australia, with some novel features for scheduling reminders. It must be good, because their marketing consisted entirely of telling a few friends, and usage is now in the millions.

I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation on it last week, given by its instigator Emily Boyd, under the auspices of an evening put together by the webdirections people.

The special features are enabled by Ajax, a set of technologies that enables web pages to be refreshed at the client end without need for a refresh from the server (ie Asynchronously - it also makes use of JavaScript And XML technology).

This allows the application to read and interpret data entry as it's typed. Further, entering a schedule date is made easy with intuitive language interpretation, eg "next wednesday" or "every fortnight from the 21st". All this is apparently painful to program, but yields a very user-friendly interface: "enter as you think".

Another little quirk is: instead of an annoying dialogue box: "do you really want to delete?", it yields an "undelete" function. Again very friendly. Microsoft will probably quietly introduce improvements like this...

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