Atlas: Building AJAX with ASP.NET

Perhaps the first commonly-used example of an AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) application was Outlook Web Access, which has saved me on more occasions than I can remember. AJAX gives OWA the ability to provide a much richer experience than would otherwise be possible, with postback-free retrieval and display of email messages and other Exchange objects). Other more recent exploitations include Google Maps and Google Suggest, both of which push the browser model to new heights. AJAX will never support the kinds of visually differentiated applications that Avalon will enable, but as a platform-neutral model that alleviates some of the most painful aspects of web applications, it's a very interesting model.

One of the greatest drawbacks of AJAX is that it's simply too hard to code. The very fact that I can count the number of truly exploitative public AJAX applications on the fingers of one hand is an indication of that. What's needed are toolkits and platform support that can abstract some of the plumbing work and enable developers to focus on implementing the application itself.

I'm delighted therefore to see that the cat is out of the bag on Atlas, a series of components for ASP.NET that simplify the process of building AJAX applications. Atlas will include server-side controls that handle the async callback process, client-side web service access, a local cache, and client-side access via web service to the ASP.NET 2.0 profile and membership services. This latter capability could also be interesting in combination with an Avalon Express application, which could take advantage of some of these services to share the same back-end infrastructure as an ASP.NET application whilst integrating richer functionality.

More on Atlas at the PDC, of course!

Comments (1)

  1. The news of Microsoft’s new project named Atlas generated quite a stir in the regions of Blogosphere…

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