Friday, October 20th, 2006

ASP.NET Ajax Beta Released

Category: .NET, Announcements

Scott Guthrie of Microsoft announced the first beta release of the new ASP.NET Ajax framework (formerly Atlas).

There are some significant changes including:

  • $() is now $get(): This means that you can play nice with libraries such as prototype. It is really interesting that Microsoft took this step instead of saying “screw it. why should we change because of you” and instead decided to play really nice. If you do not care about prototype and co, you may prefer the simplicity of $()
  • Performance: “We have spent time optimizing the network traffic size of client JavaScript callbacks to the server. Controls like the UpdatePanel, UpdateProgress, and Control Toolkit controls no longer emit xml-script by default, and instead just emit 1-2 lines of JavaScript (which can help significantly reduce the network traffic size on the wire). We have also moved from using JavaScript closure-based classes to using prototype-defined classes in the core type system, which we’ve found reduces memory usage for most common application scenarios.”
  • File size: They took time to modularize the JavaScript, and you can download various parts and pieces instead of just the kitchen sink. I wonder if VisualStudio will be smart and auto include what you really need?
  • Browser Support: Safari is now officially support, with Opera in the works
  • Better Debugging Experience: They did a couple of things to help with the hell that can be JavaScript debugging: “1) By moving our JavaScript class definitions from being closure-based to prototype-based, you can now use the existing Visual Studio 2005 script debugger (and/or other existing JavaScript debuggers) to better inspect and step through JavaScript objects. Closures previously hid a lot of inspection information.

    2) We invested a lot of time putting together an automated JavaScript build environment that enables us to produce two versions of all of our JavaScript files: a retail version that is optimized for performance and download size, and a fully instrumented debug version that is optimized for helping you catch issues with your code during development. Every function within the debug version of our script files now includes parameter and argument validation code that verifies that the function is being passed the correct arguments before running, and that will assert with stack trace information if not. This can help to more easily pinpoint errors with your JavaScript code early, and hopefully significantly improve JavaScript debugging.”

  • Lots of Improvements in the Client Script Library Stack: “a) Simpler client JavaScript event model. It is now easier to define and attach events on the client. Object events are also now created on demand to reduce startup time and the size of the working set. b) Simpler Component, Behavior, and Control types. APIs can now be used without first needing to instantiate their related objects, and on-demand semantics have been added to improve performance. c) Client networking improvements. Default callback functions and method-name semantics provide a much easier way to perform common asynchronous callbacks. d) Membership and Profile APIs. Simpler APIs for interacting with the Membership and Profile APIs from client-side JavaScript are now supported.”

A lot of good stuff here. Read more on ScottGu’s blog, and the official site. Hopefully there will be some good questions to the Microsoft team behind this, and IE7 at the Ajax Experience which is starting next Monday.

Fancy a quick getaway to meet up with the Ajax community? Want to be stuck in Boston traffic? Want to mourn the Red Sox’ year? Want to visit a US city with history ;)? Come join us!

Posted by Dion Almaer at 1:14 pm
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It will be really nice to see the goup stabilize the control toolkit (which is where a lot of the near-term value in Atlas lies).

So far, I think the controls in the toolkit have too many gllitches to be used in a production environment. Once that changes, I think Microsoft will have a winner with Atlas (or ASP.NET AJAX).

Comment by Dharmesh Shah — October 20, 2006

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