JavaScript has come a long way. Until a year ago, it was difficult to even consider it as a programming language in its own right. After all, the only place you used JavaScript was within the web browser. If you wanted to do some really cool stuff, you used its moody younger brother ActionScript, and you used Flash.

But that’s been changing. For the past year, AJAX has been the hot topic around the web, and that means JavaScript. This has resulted in a huge need for libraries of code to communicate between the web page and the web server directly. These libraries need a way to indicate things like changes to the data on a page, when the page itself doesn’t need to reload.

To answer this need, we usually use the excellent prototype and scriptaculous JavaScript libraries. Prototype turns JavaScript into a “real” programming language, and Scriptaculous gives you amazing abilities like drag and drop reordering of page elements, click to edit-in-place, and tons of visual effects. Unfortunately, they add more than 100k in code to your page. And even though this only needs to be loaded once per site, it is a lot of overhead, and over a slow connection you will notice the delay.

Enter moo.fx, a minimal take on this need for visual effects. If you just need to add a couple such features to a page, you can use moo.fx and a “prototype lite” library (supplied) to create some of the simple effects, needing only a tenth of the code. That allows us to take a site with certain Flash elements which offer nice, subtle fading effects, and now recreate those effects without any Flash at all!

It’s not perfect, but this is the first time we’ve been able to add content to a site that matches the interactivity of our Flash, without using any Flash at all. And that’s pretty neat.