The Microsoft Ajax Library and Visual Studio Beta 2

Posted by Stephen Walther on Stephen Walter See other posts from Stephen Walter or by Stephen Walther
Published on Wed, 21 Oct 2009 16:21:39 GMT Indexed on 2010/03/20 0:51 UTC
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Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 was released this week and one of the first things that I hope you notice is that it no longer contains the latest version of ASP.NET AJAX. What happened? Where did AJAX go?

Just like Sting and The Police, just like Phil Collins and Genesis, just like Greg Page and the Wiggles, AJAX has gone out of band! We are starting a solo career.

A Name Change

First things first. In previous releases, our Ajax framework was named ASP.NET AJAX. We now have changed the name of the framework to the Microsoft Ajax Library. There are two reasons behind this name change.

First, the members of the Ajax team got tired of explaining to everyone that our Ajax framework is not tied to the server-side ASP.NET framework. You can use the Microsoft Ajax Library with ASP.NET Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC, PHP, Ruby on RAILS, and even pure HTML applications. Our framework can be used as a client-only framework and having the word ASP.NET in our name was confusing people.

Second, it was time to start spelling the word Ajax like everyone else. Notice that the name is the Microsoft Ajax Library and not the Microsoft AJAX library. Originally, Microsoft used upper case AJAX because AJAX originally was an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. And, according to Strunk and Wagnell, acronyms should be all uppercase. However, Ajax is one of those words that have migrated from acronym status to “just a word” status.

So whenever you hear one of your co-workers talk about ASP.NET AJAX, gently correct your co-worker and say “It is now called the Microsoft Ajax Library.”

Why OOB?

But why move out-of-band (OOB)? The short answer is that we have had approximately 6 preview releases of the Microsoft Ajax Library over the last year. That’s a lot.

We pride ourselves on being agile. Client-side technology evolves quickly. We want to be able to get a preview version of the Microsoft Ajax Library out to our customers, get feedback, and make changes to the library quickly. Shipping the Microsoft Ajax Library out-of-band keeps us agile and enables us to continue to ship new versions of the library even after ASP.NET 4 ships.

Showing Love for JavaScript Developers

One area in which we have received a lot of feedback is around making the Microsoft Ajax Library easier to use for developers who are comfortable with JavaScript. We also wanted to make it easy for jQuery developers to take advantage of the innovative features of the Microsoft Ajax Library.

To achieve these goals, we’ve added the following features to the Microsoft Ajax Library (these features are included in the latest preview release that you can download right now):

  • A simplified imperative syntax – We wanted to make it brain-dead simple to create client-side Ajax controls when writing JavaScript.
  • A client script loader – We wanted the Microsoft Ajax Library to load all of the scripts required by a component or control automatically.
  • jQuery integration – We love the jQuery selector syntax. We wanted to make it easy for jQuery developers to use the Microsoft Ajax Library without changing their programming style.

If you are interested in learning about these new features of the Microsoft Ajax Library, I recommend that you read the following blog post by Scott Guthrie:

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2009/10/15/announcing-microsoft-ajax-library-preview-6-and-the-microsoft-ajax-minifier.aspx

Downloading the Latest Version of the Microsoft Ajax Library

Currently, the best place to download the latest version of the Microsoft Ajax Library is directly from the ASP.NET CodePlex project:

http://aspnet.codeplex.com/

As I write this, the current version is Preview 6. The next version is coming out at the PDC.

Summary

I’m really excited about the future of the Microsoft Ajax Library. Moving outside of the ASP.NET framework provides us the flexibility to remain agile and continue to innovate aggressively. The latest preview release of the Microsoft Ajax Library includes several major new features including a client script loader, jQuery integration, and a simplified client control creation syntax.

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