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This component simplifies using AJAX with Mason components.
It inserts the javascript to use the prototype.js library, and
allows you to call mason methods as well as components.

It relies on prototype.js, so you must include that script in any page
of any page which uses this (or an autohandler thereof).

(Most of the ideas herein are plagurized from Myghty and RubyOnRails.)

Neither Jon nor I are rushing off to write Mason 2.0 any time real soon. It may never happen. It may happen differently. I'm just recording some thoughts, don't get too excited.

Brief Example:

<div id="me">Full</div>
<input type=button value="Drink Me!"
onClick="<& /ajax, comp=>'SELF:drink', update=>'me' &>">
<%method drink>empty</%method>


comp : (required) This is the component or method which will be called
by the ajax library.

update : DOM id to update. If given the output of the above comp will
be placed in the given element.

throbber : The URL of a throbber image to show while the request is
begin processed by the server. A value of 'auto' or '1' will
use '/images/throbber.gif' as the default.
(Does not currently work with the 'position' parameter.)

position : Where in the above element to put the content.
default is to replace the element content.
"before" will add the content before the element.
"top" will add the content at the top/beginning of the element.
"bottom" will add the content at the bottom/end of the element.
"after" will add the content after the element.

javascript : if true value, <script></script> code given by the called
method will be evaluated in browser.
Its a prototype.js feature.

form : the name of a form to serialize and pass to the above comp.

parameters : query string or hash of values to pass to the above comp.
parameters starting with _ are passed verbatim, so you can put
executable javascript there
e.g. parameters=>{ a => 'string' } --> 'url?a=string'
parameters=>{ _a => '1+2' } --> 'url?a=' + escape( 1+2 )

BTW, do not pass anything in parameters named "comp". It confuses us.

Except for the 'comp' parameter, you can define attributes in the
component's <%attr> section instead of passing them explicitly to ajax.
This allows some better encapsulation and more automagic usage.

For example, if you know the component is always going to update a
certain div, you can define that in an attribute, so you do not have
to pass the update parameter. Explicit parameters will override attributes.
Inherited attributes are not considered for parameters.


This component has the potential to bypass any access controls you have
setup in your httpd.conf or anywhere else, and allow the user to access
any component or method on your site. If that is what you want, just
set the 'security' flag below to 0.

Otherwise you must explicitly enable each component for ajax access
by setting its 'ajax' attribute. This can of course also be done in
any component it inherits from to give access to a group of components.

Here is a more-or-less complete example. Please supply your own copy of
prototype.js and throbber.gif.

<script language=javascript src="prototype.js"></script>
<form name=xxx>
Test Text: <input type=text name=test><br>
<input type=button value="Click Me!"
onclick="<& /ajax, comp=>'SELF:my_ajax_test' &>">
<div id=target style="border: thin black solid;">
nothing yet

<%method my_ajax_test>
ajax => 1
update => 'target'
throbber => 1
form => 'xxx'
% sleep 2; # let the throbber throb
Hi there! It works. <br>
test param = <% $ARGS{test} %>


Make auto-throbber work with 'position'.

$comp => undef # what to call: name of mason comp/method, or component object
$update => undef # dom id to update
$position => undef # where to put the content [before,top,bottom,after]
$form => undef # form to serialize into parameters
$parameters => '' # query string or hash of values to pass to $comp
$javascript => '' # Specify to evaluate javascript in the response or not
if ( $ARGS{_comp} && !$comp ) {
my $ajax_comp = delete $ARGS{_comp};

# Security check
if (eval {$m->current_comp->flag('security')}) {
my $compref = $m->fetch_comp($ajax_comp);
if ($compref && !$compref->attr_if_exists('ajax')) {
$m->print('Security Violation! Component non ajax-accessible.');

return $m->comp($ajax_comp,%ARGS)

die("'comp' is a required parameter!") unless $comp;

# escape a string for safe usage inside javascript
my $escape_js = sub {
local $_ = shift;
return undef unless defined;
return $_;

my $ref = ref $comp;
my $compref;
# need fully qualified name for comp/method
if ($ref =~ m'^HTML::Mason::') { # Mason component object
$compref = $comp;
$comp = $compref->path;
} else {
# this may not be considering the previous base_comp properly
$comp =~ s/^SELF(?=:)/$m->caller->path/e;
$comp =~ s/^PARENT(?=:)/$m->caller->parent->path/e;
$compref = $m->fetch_comp($comp);
$comp = $compref->path;

# we can pull arguments from the comp's %attr section.
# we do *not* want to look at inherited attributes
my $compattrs = $compref->attributes || {};
while( my($k,$v) = each(%$compattrs) ) {
next if $k eq 'ajax'; # reserved for security
next if $ARGS{$k}; # explicit args take precedence
$ARGS{$k} = $v;
# fixup args section
$update = $v if $k eq 'update';
$position = $v if $k eq 'position';
$form = $v if $k eq 'form';
$parameters = $v if $k eq 'parameters';
$javascript = $v if $k eq 'javascript' ;

my $url = $m->current_comp->path;
my $args = '';
my $tp = $parameters;
$parameters = '_comp='.$m->interp->apply_escapes($comp,'u');
if (ref $tp eq 'HASH') {
for (keys %$tp) {
my $value = $tp->{$_};
my $safevalue = &$escape_js($value);

$parameters .= '&' if $parameters;
if (s/^_//) {
$parameters .= $m->interp->apply_escapes($_,'u')."=' + escape( $value ) + '";
} else {
$parameters .= $m->interp->apply_escapes($_,'u').'='.$m->interp->apply_escapes($value,'u')
if ($form) {
$parameters = '&'.$parameters if $parameters;
$parameters = qq{' + Form.serialize( $form ) + '}.$parameters;

if ($position) {
$args .= ' , ' if $args;
$args .= 'insertion: Insertion.'.ucfirst($position);

if ($javascript){
$args .= ' , ' if $args ;
$args .= 'evalScripts: true' ;

for (keys %ARGS) {
next unless defined $ARGS{$_};
my $value = $ARGS{$_};
my $safevalue = &$escape_js($value);

if (m/^(method|postBody|requestHeaders)$/) {
# string values
$args .= ' , ' if $args;
$args .= qq{ $_: '$value' };
} elsif (m/^(asynchronous|evalScripts|onSuccess|onFailure|onException|onComplete|onLoading|onLoaded|onInteractive|on\d\d\d)$/) {
# verbatim values
$args .= ' , ' if $args;
$args .= qq{ $_: $value };
$args .= ' , ' if $args;

if ($update) {
my $throbber = &$escape_js($ARGS{throbber});
if (!$position && $throbber) {
$throbber = '/images/throbber.gif' if $throbber eq '1' || $throbber eq 'auto';
$m->print(qq{ Element.update( '$update', '<img src=\\'$throbber\\'>' ); });
$m->print(qq{ new Ajax.Updater('$update', '$url', { $args parameters: '$parameters' } )});
} else {
$m->print(qq{ new Ajax.Request( '$url', { $args parameters: '$parameters' } )});

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