Hixie's Natural Log

2005-03-20 17:30 UTC Call an apple an apple

Several years ago, HTML was invented, and a few years later, JavaScript (then LiveScript, later officially named ECMAScript) and the DOM were invented, and later CSS. After people had been happily using those technologies for a while, people decided to call the combination of HTML, scripting and CSS by a new name: DHTML. DHTML wasn't a new technology — it was just a new label for what people were already doing.

Several years ago, HTTP was invented, and the Web came to be. HTTP was designed so that it could be used for several related tasks, including:

People used this for many years, and then suddenly XML-RPC and SOAP were invented. XML-RPC and SOAP are complicated ways of executing remote procedure calls on remote hosts using a structured set of arguments, all performed over HTTP.

Of course you'll notice HTTP can already do that on its own, it didn't need a new language. Other people noticed this too, but instead of saying "hey everyone, HTTP already does all this, just use HTTP", they said, "hey everyone, you should use REST!". REST is just a name that was coined for the kind of architecture on which HTTP is based, and, on the Web, simply refers to using HTTP requests.

Several years ago, Microsoft invented XMLHttpRequest. People used it, along with JavaScript and XML. Google famously used it in some of their Web pages, for instance GMail. All was well, another day saved... then someone invented a new name for it: Ajax.

It's psychotic! People keep creating new ways to refer to existing technologies. The worst of it is it's really confusing to those of us who develop these technologies! The other day a reporter contacted some WHATWG members to ask what the relation between Ajax and WHATWG was. That was the first time I heard the name. And now everyone is talking about Ajax as if it's some sort of new technology, despite the fact that people have been using it for years.

So I have a request: could people please stop making up new names for existing technologies? Just call things by their real name! If the real name is too long (the name Ajax was apparently coined because "HTTP+XML+HTML+XMLHttpRequest+JavaScript+CSS" was too long) then just mention the important bits. For example, instead of REST, just "HTTP"; instead of DHTML just "HTML and script", and instead of Ajax, "XML and script".

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