I am writing an application - a screen using Java Servlets on the server side, which is supposed to display some data in 3 tables.

I am new to AJAX, and what I see from the tutorials is that the way to accomplish this is to return the entire representation of data in those tables in XML format, and have JavaScript parse the xml, and access each <td> and plug in the value in it.

That seems like a lot of work. Am I taking the wrong approach here and missing a shortcut?