Microsoft embraces AJAX, IronPython

Microsoft this month further embraced dynamic scripting, revealing AJAX-friendly enhancements planned for the upcoming Visual Studio “Orcas” tools platforms and a marriage of IronPython and ASP.Net.

Orcas, which goes into a beta release cycle in the first half of 2007, will have integrated support for Microsoft’s ASP.Net AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) technology, which is now available in a beta release.

Also, Orcas will feature JavaScript Intellisense functionality, which provides coding assistance, as well as syntax checking. JavaScript debugging support is also planned, according to Scott Guthrie, general manager of Microsoft’s Developer Division, during a presentation at the Visual Studio Connections conference on Nov. 7.

Other AJAX-friendly features in Orcas include a greatly improved HTML designer and rich CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) support. Microsoft will also bolster AJAX extender controls such as its extender for animation.

Another function planned for Orcas is a split-view capability, allowing for a design view and examination of source code at the same time. .Net LINQ (Language Integrated Query) capability is planned as well.

ASP.Net AJAX supports several browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Opera backing is planned. Microsoft with its AJAX effort is tackling what has been viewed by some as the user-unfriendliness of JavaScript.

An attendee who has been using Microsoft’s AJAX offering said he looked forward to the final product, which is due later this year. “Getting to a final release will be important because it’s changed a lot over the last year,” said Steven Tucker, software engineer at medical device builder Boston Scientific.

IronPython, which is an implementation of the Python programming language for Microsoft’s .Net platform, is being linked to the ASP.Net Web development platform. Microsoft is offering its IronPython Community Technology Preview (CTP) for ASP.Net.

“Combining the simplicity of Python with the power of ASP.Net, this CTP release of IronPython for ASP.Net allows developers to create rich Web applications using a new implementation of the popular Python programming language,” the Web page for the project states.

Another IronPython-related project is called “Simplified Data Scenarios.” Still without an official name or launch date, the technology makes it easier to build a data-bound application, Microsoft officials said.

IronPython is just the first of a series of dynamic language efforts Microsoft is considering. Other efforts could involve languages such as Ruby, Jscript and PowerShell, said Jeff King, a program manager for the .Net developer platform team.

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