Microsoft moves up shipment of AJAX technologies

Microsoft on Monday is unveiled its official Atlas technology branding for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) programming on ASP.Net, and will make the software available sooner than planned.

The company hopes to ship its Atlas technologies around the end of 2006, as opposed to next year.

Previously, Microsoft used the code name ASP.Net "Atlas" to refer to multiple components of technologies designed to assist Web developers with AJAX-style development, a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail. Now, the server-side Atlas functionality, which integrates with ASP.Net, is called ASP.Net 2.0 AJAX Extensions.

Client-side functionality, which integrates ASP.Net 2.0 AJAX Extensions and other back-end platforms such as PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) or ColdFusion, is called Microsoft AJAX Library. This features the client-side JavaScript library.

The Atlas Control Toolkit, meanwhile, is now called the ASP.Net AJAX Control Toolkit.

Microsoft had planned to ship Atlas with the next version of Visual Studio, code-named "Orcas," which is due next year. By offering production-ready versions of ASP.Net 2.0 AJAX Extensions and the AJAX Library this year, enterprise customers will be able to take Atlas applications into production with fully supported APIs, Microsoft said.

Development of Atlas has met some roadblocks. An Update Panel feature for page refreshes was beset with reliability problems, according to a presentation (http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/06/14/79289_HNatlastalk_1.html) at the Microsoft TechEd 2006 conference in Boston in June. The company also has had to address questions on which browsers to support. Microsoft nonetheless has had tremendous interest in Atlas, Microsoft's Scott Guthrie, a general manager in the Microsoft Developer Division, wrote in his blog (http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/) on Monday.

"We've had an unbelievable amount of interest and excitement around the product, with more than 250,000 downloads this year alone," Guthrie said.

"I am excited to announce today that we are going to ship this fully supported Atlas 1.0 release on top of ASP.Net 2.0 and ensure that it works with Visual Studio 2005," Guthrie said.

To expedite Atlas, the company will focus on a core set of supported functionality, including common components needed to enable developers to build client-side controls/components. Server-side functionality for integrating with ASP.Net also has been deemed core to the platform. Other features will be available in a separate download but not offered in the core "bucket," Guthrie said.

"Over time, we will be moving more and more features into the fully supported bucket," Guthrie said. The 1.0 Atlas technology will be cross-browser and cross-platform, he added.

"Things will get even better next year with Visual Studio Orcas, where we are adding rich JavaScript IntelliSense, debugging and WYSIWYG designer support for the ASP.Net AJAX Extensions within Visual Studio and many other great features to take advantage of," Guthrie said.

Microsoft plans to have a beta of its Atlas technologies soon, followed by a release candidate.

In other development tools-related events, Parasoft this week is introducing Jtest 8.0, for Java code analysis and unit-testing, while AutomatedQA is upgrading its memory debugger.

Jtest 8.0 is for static code analysis. "It essentially helps development organizations build quality into their code and by doing so, obviously release on schedule more functionality and release with higher quality," said Nada daVeiga, Jtest product manager at Parasoft.

Featured in version 8.0 is Bug Detective, which traces and simulates execution paths to expose runtime bugs that otherwise would be difficult to find through manual testing or inspections, Parasoft said.

Automated generation and execution of in-container Cactus test cases also is included to simulate a realistic runtime environment. This enables early exposure of defects that might go unnoticed until quality assurance, deployment, or production time. Cactus is a testing framework that extends JUnit.

Additonally, Jtest Tracer replaces Test Sniffer as a named capability; it has been updated to boost its effectiveness. JTest Tracer allows users to create realistic functional JUnit test cases to reflect an application's functional behavior. Test cases can be run to identify when new code changes break or modify applications.

A new code review module in Jtest 8.0, meanwhile, helps automate the review process for code reviews. Geared toward teams of developers, the code review feature enables users to define and manage distribution lists and groupings for code review modifications and routings, Parasoft said.

Test case parameterization in Jtest 8 allows Jtest-generated or user-defined JUnit test cases to be extended and customized with varied, controlled test input values. This enables creation of test scenarios that reflect a range of realistic usage, the company said.

Also featured in version 8.0 are rules for Java 5 and the Hibernate Java framework. Parasoft Jtest 8.0 is available for Windows 2000 and XP, Linux and Solaris. Single-license prices start at US$3,495.

Also on Monday, AutomatedQA is announcing AQtime 5, which is a new release of the company's performance and memory debugger. New features automate the analysis and debug process, the company said. Also featured is support for 64-bit Windows applications.

Other capabilities include the ability to exclude known memory leaks from results, and integration with Microsoft Visual Studio and Borland Developer Studio.

AQtime 5 is licensed at US$599.99.

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