Netflix Flexing AJAX Muscle

Netflix is now using AJAX throughout the site to display a pop-up with information on individual movies on mouseover (see picture):

It’s a well-executed, clean use of the technology. Like it or not, AJAX is here to stay – at least until Microsoft bakes something like it into IE7 in their next big attempt to monopolize the web.

Fact is, end users don’t CARE about whether something’s a hack, whether it meets your exacting architecture standards. Programming may be art, but it isn’t museum art, it’s pop art. It’s Thomas Kinkade, non Picasso. It’s meant to be consumed in large quantities, and only looked at superficially. AJAX gives a site that extra flair and usefulness, and users care more about that than whether or not the developers think the design meets their exacting standards. Time to suck it up and get comfortable with AJAX.

Click here to see it for yourself.


8 thoughts on “Netflix Flexing AJAX Muscle

  1. AJAX is a development methodoly coupled around technologies, not a specific technology that Microsoft has the ability to “bake” into IE7. In fact, XMLHTTPRequest, the single most important JavaScript method that much of the AJAX design revolves around, was actually invented by Microsoft and “baked” into IE years ago (

  2. Dude, who pissed in your wheaties? Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder regarding an architect who didn’t like Ajax. Well programming is an art form to some degree. And while I love what Ajax does, until it’s more proven, I would imagine that the adoption rate is going to be slow. What Ajax needs is something like a web framework to be “baked into” it. ANd yes, you’re right end users don’t CARE about hacks, that’s what your architect and senior developers care about. If Ajax can’t scale, then you can sure bet your end users WILL CARE about how slow and crappy your Ajax’d website is.

  3. Hey Ben,

    You’re right. There’s no evidence yet that AJAX can scale. I mean, it’s not like Google is using it or anything.

  4. I should have phrased the scalability concern better. If YOUR implementation of the Ajax technologies on your website can’t scale, then your users will care. I’m well aware of what Google has done, good for them. They also have some of the smartest engineers around too. If you’re putting Ajax into your site (and I’m not talking about some crappy blog/personal site either) and you do it wrong, you’ll be lucky if your architects and senior developers just say they told you so. I’d personally kick your ass and get you fired. 😉 😛

  5. Fair enough in criticising badly implemented AJAX, but the same criticism can just as easily be applied to ANY technology. I’ve seen plenty of shoddy custom MVC and ORM in software that performs like a dog. I’ve never seem anyone fired over it, even when the cost of maintenance probably exceeded the efficiences gained in the first place. Ajax is just another piece of this ever-growing puzzle of web app development.

  6. they’re using it for drag’n’drop re-ordering of your queue, as well.

    Not in the main queue screen, unfortunatley. But after you add a new movie, there’s a list in the top right of the page that has you’re top 10 and bottom 2 or three movies on it.

    It’s drag’n’drop to re-order those items. It’s way cool.

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