The Screening Room, episode 3: Atlas

The March episode of The Screening Room explores Microsoft's forthcoming AJAX toolkit, Atlas. This month's presenter is Shanku Niyogi. Our 25-minute interview will give you a good sense of Atlas as a browser- and server-independent framework, and also as an ASP.NET extender.

Atlas has come along nicely since Scott Guthrie first introduced it last fall at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference. It remains to be seen how widely it will be adopted by non-ASP.NET folk, but the Atlas crew seem to have done a nice job of encapsulating dependencies and carving out a component model. There is, for example, an abstract interface to local storage. It's bound to Internet Explorer's local datastore, but in principle can be easily redirected to the forthcoming Firefox datastore. I'll be very interested to see how that plays out.

As you'll see in the demo, Atlas also invents its own declarative layout language, called Atlas XML Script. It's tool- and component-friendly, though I do wonder about adding one more item to a list that already includes XAML (Microsoft), XUL (Mozilla), MXML (Adobe/Macromedia), LZX (Laszlo), and some others. It really would be nice to start pulling these together.

As AJAX toolkits continue to multiply like rabbits, I also expect that standardization of JSON (JavaScript object notation), and interoperability among JSON implementations (for JavaScript as well as for other languages), are issues that will show up on the radar screen later this year.

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