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Microsoft Plans Support For Ajax, to build fast, highly interactive sites.
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 6/29/2005 11:04:00 PM.

Microsoft said late Monday it's developing a tool code-named Atlas that programmers will use to quickly write fast-loading Web sites.

A do-it-yourself approach to Web software called Ajax has led to a new breed of fast, highly interactive sites and includes Google and Yahoo developers among its adherents. Now large technology vendors that rely on keeping software developers in their fold are either downplaying the trend--or in Microsoft's case, trying to capitalize on it.

Microsoft said late Monday it's developing a tool code-named Atlas that programmers will use to quickly write fast-loading Web sites that employ code running in a Web browser.

Examples of this approach using Ajax are Google Maps and Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing site, which are written using a home brew of JavaScript, Dynamic HTML, and XML. Ajax stands for "Asynchronous JavaScript plus XML." Sites that employ it can update their contents in the background while a user is at the site, then have new text or graphics ready to load in an instant, instead of waiting for pages to reload.

Ajax sites don't rely on special media players, since the underlying technologies work with nearly all Web browsers. The result is applications like Google's maps site, which lets users zoom and scroll around a map of North America with uncommon speed for the Web.

"There are a lot of people using Ajax," says Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Forrester Research. While Ajax apps don't have the interactivity of software written with Microsoft's Windows technologies, Macromedia's Flash player, or the open-source Eclipse tools for Java, Ajax doesn't require developers to download a set of tools or media players from any one software vendor. That's attractive to some savvy programmers, but makes Ajax programming labor intensive. "Not everyone can justify the amount of effort it takes to create that kind of user interface," says Gilpin. "Not everyone is Google."

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