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How to Decide if the AJAX Control Framework is Right For Your Project

I speculate that there is a common misconception of what the AJAX Control Framework's target audience is. My sense is that many developers see the framework geared solely toward developers of rich ASP.NET Control libraries and plugins. If you're someone who thinks this, couldn't be more wrong. The AJAX Control Framework is intended to improve the quality and overall development experience of ALL web applications built with ASP.NET. Recall that all ASP.NET apps are merely a collection of "controls" that interact with each other. That's why I've called the project the AJAX Control Framework; its goodness can be applied to ALL Controls, and as such, it can bring extensive benefit to EVERY aspect of your web application.

It is my intent with this tutorial to demonstrate how you can approach the development of ALL your web applications so that you can reap the benefits that this framework provides.

What The Framework Does Best

The AJAX Control Framework aims to improve the quality and development experience of ASP.NET web applications in general (which is why I've created the Script Manager, the Update Region and the soon to be complete JavaScript Build Provider). But, that's not the main focus of the framework; and that is a highly extensible and efficient means to model your server-side UI elements on the client-side with the help of AJAX techniques. This is what it does best.

Breaking Things Up

The easiest way to determine which UI elements qualify for Ajaxification is to first analyze the overall design of every screen you're going to be building, and then for each one, break the elements up into regions.

Listed below are the most common characteristics of a UI region within a web application along with the most outstanding characteristics of a region that qualifies for Ajaxification.

Characteristics of a region:
  • Its UI elements visually appear as if they are grouped together.
  • The UI elements involved all contribute to the same function requirement(s).

Characteristics of an AJAX enabled region:
  • Its contents are dynamic.
  • Its function is demanding of the user's attention.
  • One or more elements are bound to a data source.

Take a look at the image below to see how the UI of the Default.aspx page of the sample Bing Maps project is broken up into regions. Really take your time and analyze the image above. Do you agree with how the UI was broken up? If not, think about how you would do it differently and why? (Feel free to start a discussion on the CodePlex Discussions page if you would like to share your own opinions.

Seperation of Default Page UI Elements

The UI of the Default.aspx page is broken up into 4 regions:
  1. Results List - The bottom-left panel containing the paged list of search results. This region is implemented within the BingMapsSample.ucSearchResultsList file.
  2. Search Form - The top-left panel containing the "Keywords" input field and "Search" submit button. This region is implemented within the BingMapsSample.ucSearchForm file.
  3. Results Map - The right panel containing the interactive Bing Map with all of the search results plotted on it. This region is implemented within the BingMapsSample.ucSearchResultsMap file.
  4. Place Description - The information box popups that appear when hovering the mouse cursor over a place's pushpin on the map. This region is implemented within the BingMapsSample.ucPlaceDescription file.

Last edited Jan 21, 2011 at 10:39 AM by peanutbutterlou, version 8


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