Urls still matter

Nielson stopped ranking by page views! The page view is dead! AJAX only apps are the future! We only need one url now, yay!

No. Stop it. Calm down.

You still need urls for every object in your system. Permalinks still matter. Having one page that just makes AJAX requests to fill in the content is dangerous.

Hey Google Reader team… Why can’t I bookmark a specific feed as I’m reading it and then go straight to it each morning?

Links matter because the web is made up of bite size objects that need names. Those names are necessary because people like to bookmark, share and talk about these objects. Without a link, an object has no name, and that’s just sad. Without a name, people can not do anything with it outside of the application. If they’re locked in that way, then everyone loses out.

Hey Google Calendar team… Why can’t I cut & paste the address bar to send my friend a link to the current view of the shared calendar I’m looking at?

Now, if your application doesn’t have any “objects” to speak of, then go ahead, make an XHR app with just one url. But, I don’t think such a web application exists.

Sometimes using AJAX exclusively makes sense. It can potentially lead to increased speed and usability. However, if you do this you have to utilize the url hash to maintain a permalink in the address bar. Good examples of this in practice are Yahoo! Maps, and Stumble Video. Use those sites and watch the url change as you go.

To some of you this may all sound obvious. But, if Google is making this mistake, then surely many others are due to follow their poor example.

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