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Follow up on ASP.NET AJAX release with Shanku Niyogi

by James Vastbinder on Jan 29, 2007 |

Infoq had an opportunity to discuss  the recent ASP.NET AJAX release with Shanku Niyogi, ASP.NET PUM at Microsoft.  This is a follow-up to the InfoQ announcement from last week on the release of ASP.NET AJAX.

In a nutshell, what is ASP.NET AJAX?

ASP.NET AJAX is our end-to-end framework for building richer, more interactive web applications based on AJAX techniques. ASP.NET AJAX makes it very easy for any web developer, and ASP.NET web developers in particular, to build rich AJAX experiences without writing Javascript, and it includes a powerful client library for script developers.
ASP.NET AJAX can be used with ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005. ASP.NET AJAX is available for free, and is fully supported and backed by a standard Microsoft support license.

Microsoft usually runs with code names that represent cities or locations, where did Atlas come from?

It comes from a theme we’ve used for project codenames on the ASP.NET team. It all started with “Project Saturn”, which eventually grew into what we now know as ASP.NET Web Matrix. Since then, we’ve had a number of codenames related to Saturn, like Cassini (standalone web server for ASP.NET) and Calypso (portal starter kit). So, for ASP.NET AJAX, we picked Atlas, which is another moon of Saturn.

Microsoft has more than 5 UI technologies, where does ASP.NET AJAX work best?

ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX is our recommended UI technology for applications that are Web standards-based, and that need to run on any web browser, without any client installation or plug-in. All you need is a modern browser with Javascript. If you are using ASP.NET to build your applications today, ASP.NET AJAX is also a no-brainer, because it gives lets you easily add richer, more interactive UI to your application.

What browsers will Microsoft support for both ASP.NET AJAX?

ASP.NET AJAX has a 100% Javascript client, so it works on virtually any client machine. ASP.NET AJAX works on a variety of modern browsers, on multiple platforms, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and the Mozilla family of browsers, Safari, and Opera. The client script library can also be readily modified to add support for other browsers.

What about ASP.NET AJAX support non-ASP.NET languages? 

ASP.NET AJAX really contains two major components – the Microsoft AJAX Library for the browser client, and a set of Server Extensions for ASP.NET. Although using both together gives you the best end-to-end experience, the AJAX Library can be readily used with any other server. For example, we already have a sample that integrates the Microsoft AJAX Library with PHP. For more information, see http://www.smarx.com/posts/php-for-microsoft-ajax-library.aspx.

Is there a strategy in place to work with open source and how will new controls be “officially” added?

With ASP.NET AJAX, we’ve decided to make the entire client script library (the Microsoft AJAX Library) available to developers under the Microsoft Permissive License (MS-PL). This grants developers the rights to freely customize or modify the library, and to distribute derivatives for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.
We’re also partnering with the developer community to build up a great library of shared source controls and components for ASP.NET AJAX. We’re doing this through a project called the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit, which is available on CodePlex. The ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit already has over 30 high quality AJAX controls, ranging from rich calendar controls to a full DHTML animation library. The controls are available as fully customizable source code. And, because it is a CodePlex project, developers can easily join and contribute their own controls.

What is already in the pipeline for the next release of ASP.NET AJAX?  ASP.NET?

The ASP.NET AJAX Futures CTP, which we’ve also released together with ASP.NET AJAX, contains a number of features we’re considering shipping in future releases of ASP.NET AJAX. Think of this as a live sandbox for future feature ideas– we’ll regularly preview new feature ideas through this CTP to get customer feedback. In future releases of ASP.NET AJAX, you can expect to see better support for client-side AJAX development, more components to simplify the hard problems of AJAX applications, as well as integration with our new WPF/E technology for richer web media and graphics.
Also, in the next version of Visual Studio, codenamed “Orcas”, you’ll see a great set of tools for AJAX development, including better intellisense, compile-time checking, and rich debugging support. The ASP.NET release that comes with “Orcas” will include ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 . It will also include other exciting new ASP.NET features, including controls that work together with the new LINQ technology to provide a great way to build data-driven pages and applications.

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