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The heart of AJAX turns out to be an object called "XMLHttpRequest" -- its built into Firefox and Safari, and its an Active-X in IE. You can get all the details here but the long and short of it, is that it lets you make an html request in the background from the browser, and process those results as an event on the web page. That means based on a menu selection, text entry, or whatever, you can hit the server for data, and change things on the page -- without a page reload or refresh.
I've seen this done in the past, but always with a java applet that gets downloaded and runs in the background. Thomas Gumz makes good use of this in the Domino Administrator Client for the web browser (a great application, btw) and of course iNotes and Google are high profile uses of this technique. And that's exactly my point -- its a technique, making use of a poorly (perhaps on purpose) documented feature of the web browser. Its not a new language. Its not a new standard. Its not new at all.
Don't get me wrong, I think its great stuff. Its just not revolutionary.
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