Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ajax -- stronger than dirt?

If you grew up in the '60s, you may remember having back yards filled with clothing hung out to dry on lines stretched between poles, porches, fences or buildings. Remember, too, the Ajax white knight, who rode through neighborhoods "zapping" laundry to magically transform dingy whites into sparkling whites? The peer pressure among homemakers was intense. After all, everyone in the neighborhood could critique your laundering prowess. These are the images that come to mind when I hear the word "Ajax."

Fast forward to the 21st Century!! Although the laundry detergent and household cleanser from my youth are still available, in this day and age, Ajax has a totally new meaning. It is an acronym for "Asynchronous JavaScript And XML" which, according to "Wikipedia," is a web development technique for creating interactive web applications, such as ajaxWrite: http://ajaxwrite.com.

Free to use, no sign up required, and nothing to install, ajaxWrite is a "streamlined word processor, comparable to Microsoft Word with ... functions you use most often, right where you'd expect them to be. You can import and export documents in all popular formats, including documents with graphics. The save function lets you save your work to a drive on your computer. Also, since you run ajaxWrite from your web browser, it is platform independent and can therefore be used with any operating system." Note: ajaxWrite only works in Firefox.

What intrigued me the most was the statement regarding the "ability to import documents in all popular formats." I have been looking long and hard for an easy way to convert Microsoft Works files, for editing on the Macintosh. Although there is a "Works to Word" converter for Windows, no such utility exists for the Mac. Word on the Mac can open Works files, but only as text, and so formatting and structure is not preserved.

Well, I was excited to test some sample student papers I've been holding onto. Unfortunately, when I tried to upload a document, my browser froze and I had to force quit. So, it seems there are a few bugs yet to be ironed out.

I am hopeful that perhaps in the near future, ajaxWrite will provide the solution for working with Microsoft Works files that students have brought to school to print out, or to finish up, but neglected to "Save as ..." Microsoft Word before they left home. Perhaps ajaxWrite will be our "knight in shining armor" very soon!

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