Microsoft Targets Earlier ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Ship Date

ASP.NET developers won't have to wait until next year to use Microsoft's AJAX server controls and client-side JavaScript library if things go according to plan. Microsoft's target ship date for its AJAX technology is now around the end of 2006, according to Scott Guthrie, general manager, Microsoft Developer Division, who says in his blog that customers have been asking for a "fully supported" version of the technology.

The Asynchronous JavaScript and XML technology—code-named "Atlas"— was originally scheduled to ship with the next release of Visual Studio (Orcas), expected in 2007. The plan now is to have the "Atlas" 1.0 technology ship on top of ASP.NET 2.0 with tool support in Visual Studio 2005. Visual Studio 2007 will offer more "Atlas" support in the form of debugging tools, JavaScript intellisense, and WYSIWYG design features for the server controls, among other features, according to Guthrie.

As reported by ADT last month, Brian Goldfarb, lead product manager, Web Platform and Tools at Microsoft, and his team were looking for a way to get the AJAX technology released sooner so that developers could use it in production environments. (See "Microsoft to Ship Atlas Sooner?" The "fully-supported" 1.0 release will include 24/7 tech support, hot fixes, as well as a 10-year commitment for product servicing, according to Guthrie.

Microsoft plans to ship a 1.0 beta, an RC and then says it will determine the final release date based on customer feedback. However, some features in the "Atlas" Community Technology Previews won't be included in the "core bucket" of the 1.0 release, explains Guthrie. The Go-Live license will still support all of these features and they will be available separately for download. "We aren’t pulling back from these features at all," writes Guthrie in his blog. "We are simply trying to optimize the timing of the first fully supported set of features and also make sure that we have the flexibility to continue to evolve and innovate some features in a more agile fashion…"  A white paper with more details about the "core" features and product roadmap will be made available in the next several weeks, according to Guthrie.

Microsoft is also branding the AJAX technology, which consists of a server-side framework, client-side JavaScript library and a "source sharing" controls toolkit, which is hosted on CodePlex. For developers tired of memorizing new acronyms and internal code names, Microsoft's straightforward approach to naming "Atlas" based on its components is a welcome change.  

The server-side AJAX functionality is called ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions; as such the controls tag prefixes are changing to <asp:> from <atlas:>, notes Guthrie. The client-side class library, which supports cross-platform browsers and PHP and Cold Fusion Web servers, is now the Microsoft AJAX Library. The "Atlas" Control Toolkit is renamed the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit.  All of this technology is available to developers for download.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards ([email protected]) is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.