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Foundations of Atlas: Rapid <st1:City><st1:place>Ajax</st1:place></st1:City> Development with ASP.NET 2.0



Foundations of Atlas: Rapid Ajax Development with ASP.NET 2.0

Not since the term Web services have the computer trade publications and book publishers been driven into overdrive as they have with the acronym Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). A flood of titles has already hit the market, but only a handful have explored the new component toolkit from Microsoft that promises simple client- and server-side controls to perform the heavy lifting. Any developer who has attempted writing Ajax by hand knows how tedious, time consuming, and error prone the process can be. Microsoft recognized this and packaged the Ajax components they used to build their own Web properties, such as those found on, in a bundle called the Atlas extensions for ASP.NET 2.0. Because these components are still hot off the binary stove, books like Foundations of Atlas offer a guided tour with detailed explanations about the Atlas control attributes and examples of Atlas in action.


Laurence Moroney, an established Apress author on ASP.NET and Web services, escorts readers through the main Atlas client and server controls in this 11-chapter book. Moroney begins with a quick history lesson explaining the origins of Ajax, followed by instructions on how to obtain and configure Microsoft s free Visual Web Developer Express 2005 edition with the Atlas controls. The Atlas architecture is described, introducing JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), the Atlas Web UI, and data binding, among other topics. Leveraging Atlas client-side JavaScript library functions via the Atlas Script Manager is explained next, followed by a walkthrough of Atlas client controls. This section lists each control s properties, methods, and events, along with a brief explanation of each (where appropriate). Next, Atlas Script is presented as an easier (albeit proprietary) alternative to using JavaScript, and 11 rudimentary UI examples demonstrate how straightforward both this approach and JavaScript instructions can be in ASP.NET applications.


Chapters 6 and 7 cover Atlas server-side controls. Chapter 8 on data binding shows readers how to leverage the objects in the Sys.Data and Sys.UI.Data namespaces to dynamically deliver data to ListView, ItemView, and DataTable controls. The real eye candy that progressive Web site designers use to impress visitors is covered in the next chapter, which covers the AtlasUIGlitz library. Fade in/out, opacity settings, and simple animation examples are provided. The book concludes with a chapter on creating an example mapping Web application using Atlas and Microsoft s VirtualEarth service on Windows Live, and the final chapter wraps up with an Ajax-enabled ASP.NET 2.0 stock lookup application.


This is a relatively short book compared to other Microsoft technology titles. As such, the book is void of any insightful discussions about the future of Atlas. For instance, how much custom code should a developer expect to write and manage, and what code is likely to be replaced by a future Atlas object? The book also lacks a case study or even an answer to the question of what practical, real-world, proven ROI uses for Ajax/Atlas exist. What about Microsoft s commitment to the technology? How rapidly is it expected to evolve? What about an appendix on Ajax-enabled third-party controls that can interact or at least co-exist with Atlas?


When it comes right down to it, Foundations of Atlas is simply a nuts and bolts how-to book for developers seeking a working explanation of Microsoft s Ajax-enabled technology. The title is devoid of deep analysis, gritty Ajax dissection, optimization considerations, or forward-looking expositions. As the Atlas architecture improves and becomes just another assembly in the evolving ASP.NET collection, the topic will no doubt be included in future ASP.NET tutorial books much the way Web services is a staple chapter in ASP.NET 2.0 primers today. Until that day comes, this is one of the few books solely dedicated to the subject; while not stellar, it offers enough for you to quickly understand and employ this UI phenomenon reshaping the Web today.


Mike Riley



Title: Foundations of Atlas: Rapid Ajax Development with ASP.NET 2.0

Author: Laurence Moroney

Publisher: Apress

ISBN: 1-59059-647-1

Web Site:

Price: US$39.99

Page Count: 314



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