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SOA: Refactoring Mainframe Applications into Dynamic Web Applications, Part 2 : Page 3

By refactoring your mainframe applications into Web services, you separate presentation from logic, and gain the ability to reuse mainframe data in Web applications. The second part of this two-part article completes the refactoring by showing you how to build a browser front-end that uses the XMLHttpRequest object to query the mainframe services exposed through the new Web interface described in Part 1.


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The XMLHttpRequest Object
The XMLHttpRequest object is a built-into-the-browser (in IE and other recent browsers) JavaScript or ActiveX object that enables JavaScript to make HTTP requests to a remote server and receive HTTP responses from a remote server without the need to reload the page. There are two distinct implementations, depending upon the browser. Internet Explorer uses an ActiveX object, while non-IE browsers use a native JavaScript object. Despite its name, the XMLHttpRequest object is not limited to sending or retrieving XML, it can request or send any type of content.

The framework for this article uses a JavaScript function called getHTTPObject to create the XMLHttpRequest object. The getHTTPObject function has two separate code blocks to meet the needs of both IE and non-IE browsers as shown below:

function getHTTPObject() { var xmlhttp = null; var success = false; // List of MS XMLHTTP versions - newest first var MSXML_XMLHTTP_PROGIDS = new Array( 'MSXML2.XMLHTTP.5.0', 'MSXML2.XMLHTTP.4.0', 'MSXML2.XMLHTTP.3.0', 'MSXML2.XMLHTTP', 'Microsoft.XMLHTTP' ); // test for IE implementations first for (var i = 0; i < MSXML_XMLHTTP_PROGIDS.length && !success; i++) { try { xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject( MSXML_XMLHTTP_PROGIDS[i]); success = true; return xmlhttp: } catch (e) { xmlhttp = false; } } // Now test for non-IE implementations if (!xmlhttp && typeof XMLHttpRequest != 'undefined') { try { xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest(); } catch (e) { xmlhttp = false; } } return xmlhttp: }

Notice how the getHTTPObject function first tests for IE implementations of the XMLHttpRequest object and then tests for non-IE implementations. You can use both implementations in a similar fashion—in other words, once you have a reference to an XMLHttpRequest object, the method calls and properties are functionally similar, regardless of the underlying implementation.

After creating an XMLHttpRequest object, you simply set a few properties on it and invoke the open and send methods on it to send data to the server. The callService JavaScript function illustrated previously demonstrates the send process.

When you make an asynchronous call to the XMLHttpRequest object, it repeatedly executes the callback function handleServiceResponse (previously stored in the XMLHttpRequest object's onreadystatechange property) until the server response is complete.

The handleServiceResponse function queries the readyState property of the XMLHttpRequest object to determine the completion state of the response. The readyState property can have one the following possible values:

  • 0 (UNINITIALIZED): open() has not been called yet.
  • 1 (LOADING): send() has not been called yet.
  • 2 (LOADED): send() has been called, headers and status are available.
  • 3 (INTERACTIVE): Data is downloading.
  • 4 (COMPLETED): Finished with all operations.
When the readyState property indicates that the response has completed, you can retrieve the response data from the XMLHttpRequest object using either the responseText or the responseXML property. The responseText property returns a string representation of the data and the responseXML property returns an XML document object that you can then traverse as desired. The following code shows the handleServiceResponse JavaScript function:

 
Figure 3. The Populated User Form. After completing the background XMLHttpRequest call, the application displays both the raw XML data received and the extracted list of user names.

Figure 3 shows the populated user form after a receiving a response from the server.

function handleServiceResponse() { if (httpObj.readyState == 4) // completed { isWorking = false; if (httpObj.status == 200) // server "OK" response code { // the responseXML property retrieves an XML Document var xmlDoc = httpObj.responseXML.documentElement; // the responseText property retrieves a string document.ServiceRequestForm.result.value = httpObj.responseText; document.ServiceRequestForm.users.value = ""; // display the user list from the XML Document var users = xmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("User"); for (var i = 0; i < users.length; i++) { if (i > 0) { document.ServiceRequestForm.users.value += "\n"; } document.ServiceRequestForm.users.value += users.item(i).firstChild.data; } } } }

The preceding function retrieves the HTTP response as an XML document and then traverses that document to find the desired nodes. It then uses the data from these nodes to populate fields in the HTML form.



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