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Cross Browser XMLHttpRequest Explained

Supporting older versions of Internet Explorer

   
10:17 pm on Nov 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fotiman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Modern web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE7+, Opera, and Safari), include a native XMLHttpRequest object for creating AJAX requests. However, we often want to support IE6 as well, and that requrires using an ActiveXObject instead of a native XMLHttpRequest object (note, IE5 and IE5.5 are obsolete and should no longer be supported). But there is often some confusion revolving around which version(s) of MSXML to use to support IE6.

Microsoft has release several versions of MSXML, but only 2 of those versions (6.0 and 3.0) should be used. According to Microsoft [blogs.msdn.com], 6.0 has the best security, performance, reliability, and W3C conformance, and 3.0 is the preferred "fallback". So, we can now define our function which will return an instance of an XMLHttpRequest object (or the ActiveXObject equivalent for IE6):


/**
* Gets an XMLHttpRequest. For Internet Explorer 6, attempts to use MSXML 6.0,
* then falls back to MXSML 3.0.
* Returns null if the object could not be created.
* @return {XMLHttpRequest or equivalent ActiveXObject}
*/
function getXHR() {
if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
// Chrome, Firefox, IE7+, Opera, Safari
return new XMLHttpRequest();
}
// IE6
try {
// The latest stable version. It has the best security, performance,
// reliability, and W3C conformance. Ships with Vista, and available
// with other OS's via downloads and updates.
return new ActiveXObject('MSXML2.XMLHTTP.6.0');
} catch (e) {
try {
// The fallback.
return new ActiveXObject('MSXML2.XMLHTTP.3.0');
} catch (e) {
alert('This browser is not AJAX enabled.');
return null;
}
}
}

If you don't care about error handling or whether IE6 users will use MSXML 6.0 and you're perfectly content with IE6 users using the stable (though perhaps not as efficient and high-performing) MSXML 3.0, then you can shorten your code to this:


/**
* Gets an XMLHttpRequest. For Internet Explorer 6, attempts to use MXSML 3.0.
* @return {XMLHttpRequest or equivalent ActiveXObject}
*/
function getXHR() {
return window.XMLHttpRequest ? new XMLHttpRequest() : new ActiveXObject('Microsoft.XMLHTTP');
}
4:48 pm on Dec 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fotiman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Note, in my second example, I used 'Microsoft.XMLHTTP'. That will use MSXML 3.0 if available, but will also allow for older versions to be used as well if MSXML 3.0 is not available. Another option would have been to use 'MSXML2.XMLHTTP.3.0' as in the previous example.


function getXHR() {
return window.XMLHttpRequest ? new XMLHttpRequest() : new ActiveXObject('MSXML2.XMLHTTP.3.0');
}

This would ensure that ONLY the 3.0 version is used (which which will only apply to IE6).
 

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