Published: 05 Oct 2007
By: Granville Barnett

A review of Microsoft AJAX Library Essentials by Cristian Darie and Bogdan Brinzarea.

Written by: Cristian Darie, Bogdan Brinzarea
Pages: 300
Publisher: Packt Publishing
ISBN: 1847190987




Back when Atlas was in its infancy, many people simply regarded the framework as introducing a few new server controls. Thus, they assumed that getting to grips with the whole Atlas stack would be dead easy! Every Atlas CTP brought with it a wealth of new features - it was obvious after the first few CTP's that Atlas was going to be a major extension of the core ASP.NET product.

This book is slightly unique in that it focuses solely on the successful use of the client-side bits. The Microsoft AJAX Library is essentially a library of, in many cases, wrappers for the underlying native JavaScript functionality offered by the client's respective browser. Of course during development the Microsoft AJAX Library grew and grew into one of the most (if not the most) definitive cross platform client-side programming libraries available today for use with any web technology.

There are two sides to any story

I like to look at this book as being split into two parts. The first one concentrates on giving the reader a good understanding of how to use JavaScript as is. The second part then builds on the knowledge you learnt in the first half of the book and shows you how you would have done it had you used the MS AJAX Library.

This book is absolutely safe for those who have never touched JavaScript. You will gain all the knowledge required to successfully use and apply the Microsoft AJAX Library in your own projects.

The basics

The book begins by explaining the whole AJAX phenomena and its practical application in web applications today. This is perfect for those approaching AJAX for the first ever time - and the authors set the scene well.

By the time you have read the first few chapters you will of setup your server environment, created a few simple applications to get you familiarized with JavaScript, looked at the DOM and how to interact with it, CSS and its application in web applications and finally you would of used the raw XMLHttpRequest object.

Object oriented methodologies and their implementation

A large section of the book is dedicated to grounding the user with the skills required to create reusable code, starting off with using plain JavaScript and then proceeding to implement OO methodologies using the Microsoft AJAX Library. If you are a web developer that is about to, or are presently involved in a project that includes a lot of JavaScript code, then this book is definitely worth the read to see if there are areas you can tighten your code base up.

This book also features a very good chapter on the creation of components with the aid of the Microsoft AJAX Library, and goes through the use of the client page lifecycle.

Bringing it all together

As you reach the end of the book, you'll find a chapter dedicated to the creation of two components: Timer, and EnhancedTextBox. This chapter is all about applying what you have gradually been learning throughout the book - and it does an excellent job.

The final chapter covers debugging JavaScript code. This may be a chapter that you want to read out of order, so when you progress through the book you know what to do when something doesn't quite work how you expected. The authors don't just cover debugging with Visual Studio; they also cover debugging with other popular browser extensions like Nikhil Kothari's Web Development Helper tool.

At the end of the book there is an appendix covering more of the Microsoft AJAX Libraries features, like regular expressions, the string class, etc. This is a useful resource if you think that the documentation on the ASP.NET site is not clear enough.


I really enjoyed this book. Its unique selling point is the fact that it solely covers client-side scripting with, and without the Microsoft AJAX Library. As we progress forward we see that other technologies like Silverlight 1.0 depend on JavaScript to drive interaction with the user. Of course the Microsoft AJAX Library is still growing - just take a look at the ASP.NET Futures.

JavaScript has become a required skill for the modern developer and this book will provide you with the core understanding required in order to further master the JavaScript language and its nuances. Highly recommended.

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About Granville Barnett

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This author has published 32 articles on DotNetSlackers. View other articles or the complete profile here.

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