Monday, November 21, 2005

Ajax & Atlas

November 20 marked the 20th anniversary of Microsoft Windows. During the first decade of Windows, programs such as Word and Excel improved and evolved into a suite called Office. The second decade of Windows featured Internet access and connectivity to all Office applications. So, what will the third decade bring?

Well, one concept that is evolving is the interactivity of Web technologies designed to create even richer Web applications. The name for this emerging concept -- Ajax!

Ajax is an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is not software. It is not a Website. It is not a development tool. Rather, Ajax is a Web development technique that relies on several of the following commonly-used Web technologies:
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • XML

Internet users typically interact with a Web server by clicking a button or a link and this "event" triggers a request for a new page. Ajax techniques allow a Web developer to create a dynamic environment for the user that bypasses this "round trip" request for information.

To see this technology in action visit Google Suggest. Simply begin typing your search request and watch as the Web server dynamically offers suggestions (without requesting a new page) based on what others have been searching for.

Microsoft likes the technology so much it has incorporated support for Ajax in its latest upgrades of ASP.NET and Visual Studio 2005. Microsoft refers to its implementation of Ajax techniques as "Atlas."

To learn more about this emerging technology access an Information Week interview with Microsoft's Atlas product manager. In addition you can access an Atlas Quickstart Tutorial at Microsoft's Atlas Website. You can also review a non-Microsoft overview of the evolution of the Ajax from Adaptive Path.