Like, Comet is the new Ajax, duh!

What the crap? I was just getting the hang of this Ajax stuff. Now, we have a new thing called Comet?


What is Comet?… er… What is Ajax first?

Well, Comet is what I’ve been waiting for. If that isn’t a good enough description, than hang on to your pocket protectors cause it’s gonna be a fun ride here.

If you’re a geek (or a venture capitalist), you’ve heard of or are building web stuff using Ajax. For those of you who aren’t in the geekdom, Ajax is just a fancy way to get stuff from the database and display it on the same page that requested it, rather than having to reload pages. That’s the easy way to put it.

Why is that a big deal? Well, let me ask you this: Do you really want to reload all those images and graphics again from some site that takes forever to load, just to get a confirmation that what you did was acceptable? No? Well good, then you’ll appreciate Ajax.

Any other cleaning supplies in the house? Comet anyone?

So, other than being named after a competing cleaning product, what’s Comet have to do with Ajax?

Well, Ajax is driven by a user clicking something on a page. For example, you click the submit button after sending filling out a form. Rather than go to a new confirmation page, Ajax refreshes just a portion of the page, makes the form disappear and a message appears in it’s place saying “Thanks, you’re cool for submitting this form.”

Comet, on the other hand, doesn’t have to wait for you to do anything. In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all. It’s what’s called “push” technology – just like instant messaging is. You can sit there all day long, and the website won’t do a thing. But, if you’re friend comes online and messages you, it’ll display that message on the screen without having to refresh the page.

So what? Doesn’t the web already do this stuff?

Well, not really. True blue applications do (like instant messaging), but you have to download those programs and install them on your system. That’s a pain for developers because we have to take into account every system made, and accompany all the different variants of your custom Dell, or whatever. Plus, new computer users don’t really know how to install things. But, they do know how to visit a website.

Enter Comet.

Rather than installing a instant messaging program to talk with someone about a project, if you’re on the website already, why not just talk to them through that? Before Comet, this wasn’t really possible.

Ok, I just lied there. It was possible, but it costs a lot of money (bandwidth) to make those kinds of applications because the web page has to check the server or reload every so often – and that’s annoying for both users and the people spending the money on delivering all those bits and bytes to your computer every time it reloads.

Ok, so Comet is cool for geeks, what about us normal folks?

Normal folks probably won’t care that much about the technology itself (as opposed to all the new startup people who promote Ajax, Tags, Folksonomy, and all the other Web 2.0 hype buzzwords.

But, they will care about the applications being built. I guarantee this will be a new revolution in what web apps will be doing – and it won’t just be social networking sites.

Whole industries will be built and created and enhanced around this technology, regardless of what the geeks say.

Currently, we’re at a fledgling technology here though. You can tell because, a job board, has the following graph which shows almost no increase in the word Comet through their search, but Ajax is skyrocketing. Ajax vs Comet

If you’re a geek, and you want to get a job in the hottest companies in the near future, start learning Comet.

If you’re an entrepreneur, and you want the hottest application on the block? Start understanding the benefits Comet will give to your company, and look for opportunities to use it. Also, go find those people who are learning Comet (the geeks). They will make you rich.


COMET – the next stage of AJAX
Comet: It’s Ajax for “Push” (Podcast)
“Comet” may become the newest Ajax buzzword trends
Google trends
Comet: A New Approach to Ajax

[tags]comet, ajax, web app, 2.0, web2, web2.0, web 2.0, social networks[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in Austin, Texas (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

One Comment on "Like, Comet is the new Ajax, duh!"

  1. misha says:

    and here I thought you were talking about cleaning supplies…

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