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Programming Atlas



Programming Atlas

I have read and reviewed several books covering Atlas, Microsoft s AJAX API for ASP.NET, and knew it was only a matter of time before O Reilly published their own interpretation on the subject. While certainly not first to the Atlas table, Programming Atlas is one of the best I ve seen to date.


For starters, author Christian Wenz, an ASP.NET MVP and PHP and JavaScript master, is also an accomplished technical writer with several previously published books to his credit. As such, his experience is quickly apparent to readers seeking to learn as much about the technology with as few extemporaneous words as possible. Second, this book is chock full of code samples. Nearly every page has relevant code snippets that illustrate precisely what concepts are being discussed. Wenz admits in the Preface that he is a big believer in the show, don t tell principle and he stays true to that assertion throughout the book. Programming Atlas doesn t lend itself easily to be read away from a computer. Consequently, the ideas are stickier because they are reinforced in both the mind and the fingers as code is entered and executed. Fortunately, the code is available for download from for the keyboard impaired. Finally, the book is optimally organized for busy intermediate to experienced ASP.NET developers. The introductory chapters only take up 64 of the 382 pages of content, leaving the bulk for the real heart of the technology.


After the introductory chapters on Atlas, JavaScript, and AJAX, the next eight chapters explore the Atlas toolkit by covering client controls, data binding/validation, behaviors and components, animations, client-script libraries, interacting with server data, creating and consuming Web services, and extending controls (including drag/drop and autocomplete examples).


The remaining five chapters go beyond the usual matter-of-fact tutorials found in other Atlas books by covering other AJAX tools (in addition to installing and using the Atlas Control toolkit), a chapter on using Microsoft s Virtual Earth Web service as an AJAX tutorial, invoking Atlas from PHP instead of ASP.NET on the server side, and using Microsoft Web Parts and Gadgets with Atlas. In fact, this is one of the first books I ve read on Atlas that demonstrates how to create a Vista-only Windows Gadget front-end tied to an Atlas back-end, and it drives home the exciting new integration possibilities these two new technologies can bestow upon Microsoft developers. Notes, tips, and call-outs via the standard conventions used in all O Reilly titles offer great insight into the deep Web development knowledge known and imparted by the author. The book concludes with four appendices that reference the XMLHttpRequest object, the W3C DOM implementation, the Atlas JavaScript libraries, and, lastly, a declarative reference for the Atlas ScriptManager and UpdatePanel controls.


Like all Atlas books before it, Programming Atlas was written before the 1.0 product was released by Microsoft, and it s possible that some beta behaviors will not be manifested in the final release. Still, progressive developers will appreciate the quality education that Programming Atlas delivers and the head start it offers with this exciting new way user interfaces are being constructed for today s demanding browsing population.


Mike Riley



Title: Programming Atlas

Author: Christian Wenz

Publisher: O Reilly

ISBN: 0-596-52672-5

Web Site:

Price: US$34.99

Page Count: 382



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