This week I'm attending the AJAX Experience conference up in Boston, Ma. There are couple of folks from the Internet Explorer and ASP.NET AJAX library teams here to participate. Microsoft has a booth where we are talking about both products with the attendees in the sponsor section. We are also holding a raffle to give away an XBox 360 at the end of the conference on Wednesday.
Many of the major AJAX framework players are here, all talking about the various AJAX frameworks that are out there. Lots of great sessions on making it easier to implement better user experiences on the web! Brad Abrams delivered a great session on what Microsoft is doing with AJAX. He posted about it here.
As I've spoken to many of the attendees visiting the Microsoft booth, I've realized that there seems to be some confusion and a couple of common mis-perceptions regarding what Microsoft is doing in the AJAX space. As folks stop by to drop off their XBox raffle entry, I've been asking them if they've checked out ASP.NET AJAX. I usually get one of the following responses:
- Oh, I'm not a ASP.NET developer, we use XYZ for web development, so I'm not interested in your AJAX stuff. You need ASP.NET for that, right? It's called ASP.NET AJAX, isn't it?
- Eh, but your stuff only works in IE, right?
- ASP.NET AJAX Extentions? What about Atlas? What is that?
My response, of course, is that's not true! I can understand your confusion though. Let me explain... Microsoft has been working on a "bunch of stuff" related to AJAX that was collectively known as code-name "Atlas". About a month ago, I wrote a post about how that "bunch of stuff" was packaged into three different packages, each with it's own name:
- Microsoft AJAX Library
- ASP.NET AJAX Extensions
- ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit
In summary, here's what you need to know:
- Collectively, these three packages are known as "ASP.NET AJAX"
- Two of the three packages do NOT require ASP.NET or any Microsoft servers!
- ALL three of the packages support all of the major browsers (IE, Firefox, Mozilla, Safari)
While the Microsoft AJAX Library can be used with any web server technology (including Java, PHP, or ColdFusion), I can understand how the collective name "ASP.NET AJAX" can mislead people to assume that ASP.NET is required to make use of this great library.
Don't get me wrong though... there is a good reason why these technologies have been named ASP.NET AJAX. If you are an ASP.NET developer, the integration between the client-side library and server-side extensions provide a great solution for easily building better web user experiences!