How ASP.NET’s ATLAS project originated at MSN

It was an interesting read to learn how the ATLAS project, that the ASP.NET team is working on, originates in part at MSN. As you can read on Scott Guthrie's blog ATLAS is a new framework for developing AJAX style web applications using ASP.NET.

Dare Obasanjo quotes Omar Shahine and adds:

Trying to build a complex AJAX website with traditional Visual Studio.NET development tools is quite painful which is why the various teams at MSN have collaborated and built a unified framework. As Omar points out, one of the good things that has come out of this is that the various MSN folks went to the Microsoft developer division and pointed out they are missing the boat key infrastructure needed for AJAX development. This feedback was one of the factors that resulted in the recently announced Atlas project.


If you're going to be at the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference (PDC) and are interested in professional AJAX development you should definitely make your way to the various presentations by the MSN folks.

My PDC schedule is already heavily overbooked due to the incredible abundance of interesting sessions. I'll try to stick in one or two of these sessions since I have a love for AJAX since long before it was called that way. Let me copy in a comment I made in Dennis' blog back in the days when I did not have my own blog yet:

AJAX = Old technology 😉 At the bank I work for we have used a similar approach since 2000. We call our framework R***SCO. SCO stands for Server Communication Objects and R*** stands for part of the name of the Dutch bank that is to remain anonymous. Hard guess, hey?

Our technology dates back from before the XmlHttpRequest days. We designed a method using posting requests to and from hidden frames and returning data as client-side JavaScript code generated with ASP with server-side JavaScript. This can be fast because Internet Explorer is very good at parsing and interpreting JavaScript. With this data dynamic parts of the page presentation are generated using DHTML.

The reason we did this back in 2000 because we were confronted with the demand that the output of dynamic web pages could not be larger than 5-10 kB due to very strict bandwidth restrictions. So we had to separate presentation code from data. Static code was preloaded on proxy servers at remote locations. Some applications loaded some 400 kB of static HTML and JavaScript code from the proxy server or the browser cache on startup and just a couple of kB with dynamic data from the web server.

Unfortunately this technology is proprietary to the R*** bank so it cannot be borrowed. Heavy use of frames and clientside JavaScript has fallen out of favour with the enterprise architects of the bank. Also our code is very IE4-6 specific. So now we use plain old ASP.NET 😉


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