June 27, 2005 9:01 PM PDT

Microsoft gets hip to Ajax

Not to be left out of any development trends, Microsoft is working to simplify the job of building so-called Ajax applications, or Web applications with sophisticated graphics.

The company is building software, code-named Atlas, that provides developers with tools designed to ease creation of Ajax-style applications. An early version of the software will be made available to developers at the company's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in September.

Though it's a relatively new term, Ajax describes a set of Web technologies invented and standardized during the past eight years. Those include JavaScript, dynamic HTML and a feature called XmlHttp which reduces the need for Web clients to reconnect to a Web server every time information is downloaded.

A growing number of proponents argue that applications created with Ajax perform better than today's Web browser-based applications.

Microsoft's Atlas is a "Web client framework" designed to make the job of building Ajax-style applications simpler, said Charles Fitzgerald, the company's general manager for platform technologies.

"People who do (Ajax development) are rocket scientists," Fitzgerald said. "In some ways, this papers over the mess that is JavaScript development. It's easy-to-build 'spaghetti' code."

Atlas--which is a downloadable piece of JavaScript code--gives developers a more structured environment for building applications, providing time-saving services such as an object model and debugging, he said. It will work across any Web browser that supports Ajax technologies.

Developers can use the Atlas software through Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 development tools and the Web development framework ASP.Net 2.0, both of which are expected to ship in November.

Fitzgerald said Atlas is part of a suite of Microsoft technologies for creating so-called rich-client applications, which feature sophisticated user interface design and quicker performance than traditional Web applications.

The company is also investing in development tools to more easily build Office applications that tap into data from back-end applications, such as those from SAP and Siebel.

At the Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft will give more information on front-end development using Avalon, the presentation system and programming model scheduled to arrive with Windows update Longhorn next year, Fitzgerald said.

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8 comments

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You mistate the significance of AJAX
"Not to be left out of any development trends, Microsoft is working to simplify the job of building so-called AJAX applications, or Web applications with sophisticated graphics."

AJAX applications are not about building Web applications with sophisticated graphics.

AJAX applications are about mimicking desktop application behavior in web applications by breaking the current HTTP request/response cycle prevalent in most web apps.

By harnessing the XMLHttpRequest capabilities of modern web browsers, application designers can create applications that are more responsive and less server load.

Obviously, there is merit in this as Google has been leading the way with implementing the technology in it's Gmail and Google Maps technology. Ever wonder why you can click and drag the map around, seamless zooming with Google maps? That's AJAX technology working.

For those interested in reading more see:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php</a>
Posted by Sewer Kraut (9 comments )
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Can CNET report a story without getting things wrong?
a) AJAX has nothing to do with "rich graphics".
b) AJAX does not "reduce the need for web apps to make HTTP requests". It just reduces the need to refresh the whole page. I mean, DUH, it's called XmlHttpRequest for a friggin' reason. You're still making the requests.

I really wish CNET would hire some people who actually know technology to write these articles.
Posted by (127 comments )
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MUCH better overview of Atlas is here
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2005/06/28/416185.aspx" target="_newWindow">http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2005/06/28/416185.aspx</a>
Posted by (127 comments )
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Company who developed it get "hip" to it?
Another ironic headline of "Microsoft gets hip to Ajax"! Umm..Microsoft developers created the XmlHttpRequest back in 1998 to create a rich web-version of Outlook...now the web version of Outlook 2003. Now that google developers have started using it, and another company has coined the technology phrase of "Ajax" for it, technology editors have once again misrepresented what's really going on.
Posted by (3 comments )
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Ajax
Ajax is showing real results for real companies. It's so much more than graphics - it's about improving the info flow as people use apps. Have a look at the projector selector at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.projectorpoint.co.uk" target="_newWindow">http://www.projectorpoint.co.uk</a> or http:maps.google.co.uk - both apps have turned a tedious task into the a great way to filter and present information
Posted by murrayt (1 comment )
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AJAX is NOT rocket science
People percieve AJAX as complicated, and I think this has alot to do with the marketing behind the acronym. It's missleading and I wish AdaptavePath never coined the term.
Posted by nickdunn (2 comments )
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Just a bandaid
Unfortunatly, "AJAX" is just a bandaid for HTTP, and does not actually solve the problem but rather attempts to hide it.
Posted by nickdunn (2 comments )
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Microsoft Atlas
Microsoft Atlas it pretty powerful for beginner. It is very easy to create the ajax website just by adding few lines to the existing ASP.NET website

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.AtlasASP.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.AtlasASP.com</a>
Posted by Steward5732 (1 comment )
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