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Using Ajax as a replacement for @DBLookups

In this tip, a developer explains how he started using AJAX for @DBLookup functions.

We have started implementing Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) in a number of applications at my company. Most of what we have done has been using agents to bring back HTML to change a Web page using


the .innerHTML property. But I was thinking that I could just as easily bring back the same information I can get in an @DBLookup. The approach I took is very specialized, but can be expanded to pull back any information you would ever want.

Basically, I have a contact name field and a contact phone number field on the form in question. I want the contact phone field to be automatically populated from data in the person document. So I have the onBlur event for the contact name field set to getContactPhone(document.forms[0].contact.value,'contact_phone'); so that the contact's phone number is looked up in the Public Address Book whenever the user tabs out of the field.

The agent I created, GetOfficePhone, returns the user's phone number I want with two print statements:

Print "Content-type: text/plain"
Print doc.OfficePhoneNumber(0)

This technique could definitely be expanded to do full blown @DbColumn and @DBLookup functions. The JavaScript is as follows:

var xmlhttp=false;
/*@cc_on @*/
/*@if (@_jscript_version >= 5)
try {
xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject
} catch (e) {
try {
xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject
} catch (E) {
xmlhttp = false;
@end @*/

if (!xmlhttp && typeof XMLHttpRequest != 
'undefined') {
  xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

function getContactPhone(username, objID) {
  var obj = document.getElementById(objID);"GET", 
+ username);
  xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {
    if (xmlhttp.readyState == 
4 && xmlhttp.status == 200) {
      obj.value = xmlhttp.responseText;

You can e-mail me with any questions.


I wanted to point out that this kind of functionality has been around for years -- I've personally been using the XML parser together with agents, and ?ReadViewEntries to get back results on the fly since 2002. It's amusing that only now when someone gives it a fancy name (AJAX) that everyone suddenly jumps on the bandwagon and claims they only just thought up how to do this. Articles like this have been around on the Internet for a while, including if I remember rightly.

It might be interesting to do a survey of your users to see just how many users were already aware of technology like this before some bright spark came up with the idea of naming the technology!

—Giles H.


Good tip. However, the code is almost verbatim from another site:

—Julian M.

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