Home / Articles / Filtering and Displaying Data Using Ajax

Filtering and Displaying Data Using Ajax

  • Date: Feb 15, 2010.
Passing and Using Data with Ajax

Passing and Using Data with Ajax

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (called Ajax for short) is a term that was coined in 2005 for a technique that has been available for over a decade. The Ajax technique is used to pass data to and from interactive web applications. It helps you to create web pages that appear more responsive, because the data passes between the user's computer and the server behind the scenes, without requiring the page to reload.

The two main technologies that make up Ajax are XML and JavaScript. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a language that allows you to package information, such as a recordset, and maintain its structure while you send it over the Internet. JavaScript is a scripting language that lets you manipulate objects, such as your recordset, in the user's browser. Prior to Dreamweaver CS4, you had to use XML or JavaScript Object Notation (JSON, another way to structure your data) to provide the data for Ajax. CS4 now allows you to use HTML tables as recordsets. This approach makes Ajax much more accessible to web developers.

Several Ajax libraries are available, some with quite sophisticated capabilities, and each requires a specific level of technical knowledge. Adobe created the Spry framework to make Ajax available to web designers with minimal programming experience.

The Spry framework has a number of useful elements, including a number of user interface "widgets," visual effects, and form validation. It's designed to be easy to implement for anyone with a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Dreamweaver CS4 shipped with Spry prerelease version 1.6.1. Each release includes new features and refinements. It's easy to update your Spry libraries, because the Spry team releases a Dreamweaver Extension with each new release of Spry.

In this exercise, you will take the recordset that might be created by querying the database for the country profiles, and publish it as a page on the Web. We will look at XML, JSON, and HTML versions of the data. You're welcome to use whichever version you like, but we'll use the HTML version for this lesson, because most people are comfortable with HTML. This will serve as the data for your profile page application. Then you'll use Adobe Spry to create a table for the list of countries and their regions, and use the Spry Accordion to display details of the chosen country.

Before we begin, let's take a look at the data. The newland folder has all three versions of the data. Each format has its own advantages, and your situation will dictate which you ultimately use. If your records are maintained in a database, you may already have experience outputting those records as HTML tables. Many programming languages have functions to output records as XML. If you have many records, or very large records, JSON might be the best choice for you, because it's the lightest-weight solution. For now, XML will give us the best view of the data, so we'll start there.

  1. Open the file countryDetailXML.xml. Press F12 to view the results.
  2. Most modern browsers can parse and display properly formed XML. The entire recordset is labeled <countries>, with each individual record shown in an individual <country> node in the XML file (see Figure 7). In this case, the fieldnames in the XML dataset reflect the fieldnames from the database from which the data was pulled. These arbitrary names will be the names of your variables once you pull the data into your page. The browser's parser gives us a convenient view of the data. If you click the minus (-) sign next to an opening tag of any element that has multiple rows of content, it will collapse the element for greater ease of reading.

    The XML view gives us a clear idea of the nature of our recordset. To visualize it another way, we'll look at the HTML table version.

  3. Close the XML file and open countryDetailTable.html. Press F12 to view the results (see Figure 8).
  4. The HTML table view of the data should be comfortably familiar. Fortunately, Dreamweaver CS4 and Spry give you options to use data in this format as well. Before closing the HTML file, take a look at the opening table tag in the source code. Its ID attribute has the value "countries". This setup is critical for making it available to Spry as a data source. (We'll return to that later.) Close the HTML file for now.

    Finally, we'll look at the JSON data. While Dreamweaver CS4 recognizes JSON data through its Spry Data Set wizard, the functions are there in the libraries, and the tag insight will suggest it when typing in code view.

  5. Open countryDetailJSON.js (see Figure 9).
  6. The browser preview (F12) command doesn't work with JavaScript files, because they look just the same in the browser. You can see the way that JSON structure works on the same data. When you're finished looking over the JSON file, close the file.

Now it's time to take our data file and use it to create a more dynamic experience for our users and our site administrators.

4. Connecting the Country Profiles Page to HTML Data | Next Section Previous Section

Adobe Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Adobe Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Adobe Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.adobepress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020