Get Ready for AJAX
If you’re fortunate enough to attend a developer conference this year, look around at the variety of people. There are all kinds out there, a diverse ecosystem as the marketing folks might say. Even within a relatively narrow group like programmers, you’ll find a wide range of goals and interests.
Not everyone gets a charge out of the same things, and the best entrepreneurs know this. That must be why my Inbox is filled with all manner of spam, from one note with the subject "Mike Tyson wears Rolex You should TO!" to another that blares "Freddy Kruger wears Rolex." You really need to know your audience, not just generate random pitches.
Providing appropriate coverage in the vast yet limited space we have in MSDN Magazine presents a similar problem. What will our readers find interesting? For some, the flashy new features in Windows Vista get their hearts beating faster. Others prefer the gritty details down in the weeds of the server. Not to worry. The range of interesting topics we cover this month, from Windows Vista to Atlas to Enterprise Library, should provide something for everyone. We’ll resist the urge to compare these technologies to Mike Tyson and Freddy Kruger.
Instead, let’s focus on Atlas, the subject of this issue’s lead article. Atlas is the code name for a free framework that lets you take advantage of AJAX technologies in ASP.NET. Though Atlas is not named after Charles Atlas, the "World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man," that analogy may actually fit.
Taken together, the technologies in AJAX let the server update pages on the fly, one of the closest things to a Holy Grail Web developers have had. This isn’t the first attempt at dynamic, updateable Web pages, however. Back in 1998, Microsoft released a technology called Remote Scripting (microsoft.com/mind/0498/cutting0498.asp
), which let a client and server communicate using a Java-language applet. Remote Scripting made its way into some products, like the version of Outlook Web Access found in Exchange Server 2000.
Atlas is an extension of ASP.NET that takes advantage of AJAX. The ASP.NET community site (atlas.asp.net
) has a big section devoted to Atlas where you can get downloads, tutorials, samples, and much more.
As more people adopt Atlas and AJAX, we’ll start to see more mash-ups (Web applications that combine content from multiple sources—maybe from RSS feeds or other public interfaces). Mash-ups are going to be big in the next couple of years. If you’re interested in the cool factor, this is where you want to go. Our advice is to take on the technology in two stages. First, get acquainted with Atlas. Matt Gibbs provides a comprehensive overview in this issue (page 48).
Next, download the CTP (which, as far as we can tell, is the new code name for "beta"). Get it up and running on your machine, and then dive in. The Atlas site provides some good walkthroughs to get you started, but, as you know, nothing works better than getting your hands dirty.
Finally, code code code. It’s the only way to become a mash-up celebrity. And besides, it’s a lot of fun.—J.T.
Thanks to Thanks to the following Microsoft technical experts for their help with this issue: Mike Ammerlaan, Rushi Desai, Andrew Downum, Nikola Dudar, Shawn Farkas, Dana Groff, Mike Harder, Gerald Hinson, Tom Hollander, Charlie Kaufman, Tom Laird-McConnell, Lukasz Pawlowski, Dmitry Robsman, Stefan Schackow, and Ayman Shoukry.
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