Microsoft has just published a new, huge road map for ASP.NET AJAX. I know?! After all of this time being fed bits and pieces from many different sources to stitch together ASP.NET AJAX, it turns out there is actually a road map for these features and tools. Or, at least there is now. The published road map is loaded (clocks-in at 13 pages) with interesting ideas and proposals for ASP.NET AJAX v-Next and beyond, so I highly encourage you to take a minute to review it if you're an ASP.NET developer. If you're short on time, though, I've done the reading for you and here are some highlights:
- MS is going to bring some order to the release schedule of ASP.NET AJAX, it's tools, and it's controls by moving towards more "normal" CTP, Beta, RC release events
- MS is going to add many features to its client-side scripting libraries, further imitating the features of libraries like jQuery. CSS DOM selectors, Chainable DOM generation, and CSS-based event targeting are all proposed enhancements.
- MS is going to add "flexible" drag & drop and animation frameworks to the client libraries (a la jQuery, YUI, etc.)
- MS is going to build client-side data source controls (!) to enable complete client-side data operations. The controls will have corresponding server controls for easy setup.
- MS is going to invest heavily in the Ajax Control Toolkit with plans to add more complex controls in to the suite. Proposed controls include (quoted from road map):
- Grid: a client-side, templated grid control with client-side sorting, paging, and editing
- Treeview: a client-side, tempalted and web-service aware tree with a full client-side object model
- Upload: an upload control that works outside of full postbacks with progress monitoring
- Rich Text Editor: a simple, cross-browser and extensible rich text editor
- Chart: simple and extensible charting, possibly based on Silverlight
- MS is going to ensure ASPNET AJAX compatibiliy with ASPNET MVC and other non-Microsoft Ajax frameworks/client-side libraries
You can see that the client-side UI controls are "last" on the list right now, and everything is at least "likely" to make v-Next. As a component vendor, I find it interesting that Microsoft is choosing to wade-in more heavily to what has traditionally be a 3rd party supplied UI market. While 3rd parties like Telerik will leverage their agility and close relationship with customers to always build richer, higher performance, and more complete UI controls than Microsoft, you can never ignore a move like this that creates a "free option" from the creator of the framework. Time will tell if this is a good move for Microsoft or not.
In the mean time, what do you think? Should Microsoft try to deliver more advanced controls like client-side Grids and Treeviews or should they leave that to 3rd parties? Also, what do you think of Microsoft's ambitious plans for ASP.NET AJAX? Sound-off in the comments and don't forget to give Microsoft some feedback, too!
Read the ASP.NET AJAX Road Map now