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If you remember, quite a while back I had posted about Static content vs. Dynamic Content. In that post, I had tried to give an example as to what would make good dynamic content. Something that needs asynchronocity to be useful. If you don't remember, well, let's jog your memory a little.

We must try to seperate the things which need to be loaded on the fly, and things which should allow the viewer to be taken to a seperate page. I'm going to restrict myself to the blog environment, since I'm most familiar with use of asychronocity in blogs. In blogs, things which should be loaded asynchronously are the things which are secondary to the primary data. For example, related posts. It'd be perfectly logical to load a post which is related the one a viewer is currently reading, so that he can read it in context, rather than load it in a seperate page and take it out of context. This is a tremendoes usability upgrade, since all the information is available to the viewer without the need to switch pages. The same logic is followed in Heads Up Displays (HUD ). This does increase productivity, since it takes away a lot of clicks and keypresses.

So you see the example of making backlinks asynchronous? :) Yes! That was an idea back then, which I wanted to work on. But being as lazy as I am, never got around to it. But since then, I've been fiddling around with AJAX for my Native Search Suggestions and hence have gotten a good understanding of how it works and how to make it work. So, now I'll reveal my Asynchronous Backlinks! :)

Introduction

This is not to be confused with Recursive Backlinks by Greg. That has a completely different purpose, though is asynchronous too. AB works to make browsing backlinked posts faster, especially if they're from the same blog. Actually, only if they're from the same blog. This works great for someone like me who links back to his own posts a lot. If you don't link to your own posts, then this is definitely not for you. The reason is because the hack is limited by rules of AJAX. I can't access content from sites not on my domain. I could PHP my way around it, but I think its not fair to steal clicks and hits away from someone elses site that way.

Ok, so you like what you see? Want to try it out first? Here's a good page to try it out on. Native Blog Search. That is one the most linked to pages on this blog. Check out the backlinks, try all of them, and keep an eye to the bottom right of your screen. You'll see what I mean! :P

You wanna implement it now? Cool! :)

Implementation

Start by getting yourself a copy of Prototype.js. You're going to need this. Host it yourself (Google Pages is a fantastic way to do so!), or you can grab the one off Jscripts. I'll try and keep that updated, but don't count on it. Once you do that, add these lines in (I take the Jscripts script by default) as indicated

To the <head> area, and

After the </body> of your template. Now find your <$BlogItemBody$> tag, and replace that with

Done? Good, thats a lot of work done! :) Now, find the code for your backlinks. People have different codes for their backlinks, so I won't ask you to put any lines in. Just alter them. Add an onclick="req('<$BlogBacklinkURL$>" statement to the link which points to the backlink URL, and change the href to make it point to #. Add a <div id="aload"></div> wherever you want to show the output. Thats it! You're done! Need an explanation? Ok!

Explanation

The first thing you have to pay attention to is the two commented statements that you've wrapped your post body tag with. They are used by the script to detect exactly which part to print out. You can use any other line or code to demarkate, but remember, it should be unique. If it clashes with anything before its intended target, you'll get a messed up output.

That is all that is there to it really. The script just makes an AJAX call to the page pointed to by your backlink. If its in your domain, the returned text is filtered out and shown to you. You can add script.aculo.us effects like I have to make it more appealing, but that is all there is to it really! Too simple for you? Go ahead, expand it, lets see what you can come up with! :)


12 Comments

Hi Aditya,

My name is Deepak. I wanted to use a hack of yours in my blog (the navbar hide hack which you presented in Bloggeratto.) As a matter of fact, I already incorporated that ;)

Please tell me how I should acknowledge your work. I don't have a technical blog right now, what I can do is add a link to your blog from the credits section in my blogpage.

BTW, I wanted to point you to a minute bug in your Async backlink implementation. When you select permalink of any post from your index page, the yellow block appears for about a second and vanishes. I believe that is something unwanted.

Thank you so much for you kind words Deepak. There is a button under Subscriptions (click it to open up the tray) where you'll find ways of linking to me! :) Thank you for doing so! :)

Secondly, the yellow box vanishes only when the page is loaded, not when you click the links themselves. A single click makes an AJAX call, but a double click loads the page normally. The initial blimp of yellow at page load can't be avoided, since my effects need that. If you choose not to use effects, that initial blimp can be avoided! :)

wait, what? coff*Coff

Here here Avatar. Take 2 and call me in the morning!

Didn't quite get where you have implemented the double click functionality. I don't see it in your code. Is it a functionality built inside prototype.js?

The "blimp" is sort of bad bahavior for the end user. I think you can do something with the display parameter for your aload id, by not allowing it to change into display: block if there is no data inside the SCRAPE pseudo-tags.

Just a suggestion...Not sure of it.

The double click is a simple attribute you can put in to tags, ondblclick="", which makes it respond to double clicks.

The blimp is distracting, yes, but my script.aculo.us asks for it in the beginning. Ever appear and dissapear effect is coupled, so something has to be hidden with the 'disappear' effect before it can be made visible with the 'appear' effect. I'll see what I can do to remove it! Thanks for the suggestion though.

Nice work. How is John's post on this showing up even though it is not in your blog? Or is it?

Your blog is so aesthetically appealing! Except for the painfully small font size, everything is awesome!

Well, the little snippet you see is courtesy of Blogger's native backlinks catch. But its from my backlinks that you'll get to see practically the first two paragraphs! :)

Also, I'm sorry about the font size, but I really like it that way. I tried increasing it, and it looks awful to me. So I guess we'll exercise those ctrl and + keys! :-P Thanks for dropping by!

hochu pohmelitsy
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