[Pdx-pm] Making web pages that display "working on your request"

Kevin Scaldeferri kevin at scaldeferri.com
Mon Jul 30 16:25:10 PDT 2007

So, I'm not really an HTML guy, but I find myself needing to produce  
a moderately fancy web UI for the project I'm working on.

Basically, I have this server that aggregates a lot of information  
from various sites to display to the user.  Unfortunately, a request  
can take 60 seconds or more to query all the data sources and get  
back the required information.  The complaint from users is that they  
can't really tell that the server is actually doing anything when  
they just stare at a blank page "forever", and sometimes they just  
give up, convinced it is broken.  (The page-loading spinner in the  
browser chrome is not considered sufficiently convincing.)

So, at a minimum I want to display a message like "Working on your  
request <spinner>" while we are gathering the data, then make that  
message disappear when the rest of the data comes in.  Ideally, I'd  
provide a much more detailed, ongoing update of what the server is  
doing as it works on the request.  I guess that means some sort of  
DHTML / AJAX thing, which is exactly the sort of thing I have 0  
experience with.

Do people have recommendations on where to go to learn how to produce  
effects like this?  Of course, I'd like that perfect combination of  
practical and theoretical exposition which will provide excellent  
working examples of similar effects, plus enough understanding to  
modify them effectively.  But, I'm willing to go to a couple  
different sources to piece it all together.



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