Microsoft Cleans Up AJAX with 'Atlas'

BetaNews has learned that Microsoft is preparing an object oriented JavaScript framework for AJAX developers code-named "Atlas." The first Atlas bits will arrive at PDC 2005 in September following the 2.0 release of ASP.NET, and provide developers with new options for creating Avalon enabled browser applications.

Microsoft has supported components of AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, within Internet Explorer dating back to its adoption of JScript, DHTML and XMLHTTP. But, development using the AJAX approach has consisted of intensive scripting and what Microsoft deems as cobbling together of complementary technologies.

Google Maps is one example of an advanced browser-based service implemented using AJAX.

Many of the AJAX technology components have been used internally by Microsoft for many years within consumer facing products including Outlook Web Access and MSN Hotmail. Now, Microsoft is making it easier for others to build rich applications using AJAX.

"Our goal is to abstract away the complexity for the Web developers that are not rocket scientist," Tim O'Brien, a Senior Product Manager for the Platform Strategy Group at Microsoft told BetaNews.

Applications developed within Atlas will work across multiple Web browsers including Microsoft's own Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Some benefits from tying Atlas into ASP.NET are server side roaming user profiles, UI personalization and the capacity for local storage.

Microsoft is promoting Atlas as the best way to blend the "rich features" of ASP.NET and Longhorn's Avalon graphics into browser-based applications resulting in a better graphical experience with latest in media integration and hardware acceleration.

ASP.NET's Building Block Services and Client Building Block Services are accessible from within any Avalon client, so code written in Atlas today may be reused and optimized upon Longhorn's release.

ASP.NET 2.0 is nearing its November release to the market and has recently pushed ahead toward its final RTM milestone. More technical information about Atlas can be obtained at Microsoft's ASP.NET blog.

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