Experiences and Experiments in Programming

 Thursday, March 30, 2006

I have gotten a number of questions lately about Atlas. What exactly is it? What do I need to run it? What are the requirements for begin able to use it? So I thought I would post some information here in an attempt to help others who may have the same questions.

First of all, if you have not heard of Ajax, you have been living under a rock. However if you prefer to live like Patrick the starfish, Ajax is simply a term given to the use of multiple technologies (ie. Javascript, DHTML, CSS, and others) used in conjunction to achieve a more rich browser-based user experience. Granted, there are plenty of other definitions you can find if you don't like that one. Since Ajax is not really a technology so much as a technique, it does not belong to any one person or company. Plenty of people have created Ajax libraries. It should be no surprise that Microsoft has created their own Ajax framework, Atlas.

Atlas has 2 components: a set of Javascript script files which give you a similiar type of development platform for client-based Web pages that ASP.NET offers for server-based pages, and a server library that extends ASP.NET to integrate with server-based services. Do what? Effectively, you can have most of your work done on the client using the script files, or you can have most of the work done on the server utilizing ASP.NET.

"Ok, great"...you say.  "Sounds like it is a Microsoft ASP.NET technology. Not interested, I use PHP!" Well think again! You can use the client scripts with any back-end data provider you choose. If you use Visual Studio 2005, the Atlas .msi file will give you the option to install the Atlas web site templates. The Atlas web site template will give you a new Atlas web site option when you do a File..New from the menu. There is nothing magic here, the template creates a couple directories for you, references the Atlas library, and copies the Javascript files into your project.

The Atlas client scripts also include some really nice DHTML tools you can use as well. So what are you waiting for? Go download it and start playing.

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Who Am I - Todd Miranda
MVP Visual Developer - ASP/ASP.NET
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