ParTecs Weblog

Low hanging fruit in the quest to Ajaxify Plone

March 16th, 2006

Seems like everyone is talking about Ajaxification these days. The corridors at ParTecs are abuzz with how this or that Plone feature is ripe for Ajax. And everyone is unanimous in their agreement that Plone really needs this, like Mandy Moore needs Clearasil. Mainly because every bit of the screen real estate in Plone is dynamic, and when you trigger a full screen refresh, there is so much magic going on behind the scenes that it boggles your mind. Every portlet on the sctreen, every tab and every menu item is computed on the fly and while it is a thrill for the upstart programmer, it costs many milli-seconds in screen refresh time, something that can kill even a semi-production site. So any effort to minimize these page refreshes and stop recomputing the whole world on each click will be welcomed in a big way by Plone users everywhere.

Take for instance the Calendar portlet. Nice, as long as you don’t click any button on it. And when you do this inadvertantly, the whole world comes to a screeching halt. And slowly as the new day dawns, you see an ugly URL instead of the page you thought you were supposed to be on. I guess it was so bad that plone.org has removed the Calendar portlet from their home page. Now if the calendar portlet could just be ajaxified and then refresh just itself, Plone users would be thrilled.

Or the way batching works when you do folder contents. The code that run behinds this is definitely not a sight for the faint-hearted. Essentially the whole list, even if it has a thousand items, is recalculated as you wade through each page even though only 10 items are displayed at a time. I do not mean to underplay the complex nature of this problem itself, but surely there is scope for optimization where only the required objects that fit in the current page are woken up. Ajax can definitely come to our rescue here.

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