Top 10 Ajax Applications


Update (9/16/05): see my followup with more interesting Ajax applications here.

Ajax programming techniques have recently generated lots of buzz for good reason: they can be used to create interesting browser-based applications that do things many thought impossible with typical web browsers (in particular, a certain Ajax technique can send and receive data to and from a server without requiring the browser to refresh or reload).

Following are my picks for the 10 best Ajax applications. Selection criteria: (1) an appropriate combination of simplicity and rich functionality, (2) somehow compelling (hard to define, but I know it when I see it), (3) the more interactive, the better, and (4) free. Also, in this exercise, I’m focused on startups, so I’m not including anything from Google (maps, Suggest), Microsoft (Kahuna), or Yahoo (Flickr).

1. Kiko. A general purpose online calendar. Elegant interface and design. API coming soon.

2. Backbase’s RSS Reader. Only a demo, so you can’t add your own feeds. Still, very nice.

3. Backpack. To do list organizer and simple project management application. Includes email and mobile reminders.

4. Writely. Online word processor. A bit rough around the edges (you can’t save in MSF T Word format, for example) but still feels like a real application. Update: per Sam Schillace @ Writely, you can export in Word format (ed: sorry for missing this). Also, API and blog publishing features coming soon.

5. Amazon Zuggest. Francis Shanahan’s version of Google Suggest–but for Amazon.

6. TimeTracker. Personal time management tool.

7. Director. Rich UI for managing your links.

8. Backbase’s Information Portal. A highly interactive aggregation page.

9. Protopage. Another twist on an information portal.

10. Periodic Table of the Elements. The next must-have for high school chemistry students?

Honorable mention goes to:

1. Clearnova’s Ajax Examples page. Examples of various techniques, including full JavaScript.

2. Rico’s JavaScript Example page. More examples.

3. BackBase’s Ajax Example Page. Still more examples.

4. Realtime HTML editor.

5. Ajax IM. A browser-based IM client.

6. Endoxon’s map of Switzerland.

7. TaDaLists. Another to do list manager from Basecamp.

8. Primal Grasp’s Spell Check demo.

If you’re interested in more, check out TechCruch (they do a great job covering Web 2.0, in general),, and Read/Write Web (including a related discussion of “Web 2.0 Office).

Any others that should be on the list?

Update (9/10/05): Thanks to all who posted or emailed comments. I’ll be have a follow up next week highlighting another crop of Ajax apps. Some are in stealth mode, though, so I’m waiting for permission before writing about them. Check back later for more (and feel free to email with ideas).

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