Then there was Ajax.NET very nice but a lot of extra programming is involved to get minor ajaxy effects. and still the browser incompatibility.
Actually I wasn't looking for an ajax framework I wanted the whole deal. And I stumbled upon The asp.net 2.0 atlas framework like many others have of course. I had been using ajax in intranet applications through the magixajax panel, which still has at least one feature that the update panel from The asp.net 2.0 atlas framework doesn't have : the ability of a button to cause a regular postback from inside a panel. It can be implemented in The asp.net 2.0 atlas framework by using a clientside control and have that cause a postback when it's clicked.
Then Tim Haines told me about the Anthem library. A library of controls that add instant ajax abilities to numerous familiar controls. The library works well but i found it hard to debug hence it slowed me down a lot. I am not using Anthem anymore.
The The asp.net 2.0 atlas framework framework was exactly what i wanted: extensible, cross-browser and shiny :)
The entry into the The asp.net 2.0 atlas framework world was definitely not the easiest one ever. It started out with the updatepanels and the server side controls along with the AtlasControlToolkit. And from seeing how things worked in the control toolkit.
The updatepanel is a great tool for enhancing existing apps with instant ajax abilities, that much is certain. A downside I found with the updatepanel was the fact that the response you get back from the server is the full html version for your page and some added lines. Not really a bandwith saver I would say. Accompanied with the fact that you can't put a freetextbox inside an updatepanel nor a file upload control made it a close but no cigar kinda tool. The data exchange is what bugged me the most because more data means slower pages etc...
The dataservice looked very cool.. it takes care of the processing of the datatables returned from my BLL. I tried to get it to work for a very long time but all I could get out of it was that it displays records (that part I had after 5 minutes) but i can't get it to save my data back to the database (that part cost me 2 days at least). This is through bindings and xml script. No updating kinda cripples my whole application :(
A day later i got it working after digging deeper and doing a lot of googling and live searching. I still can't use the dataservice except for loading data. but I can use regular webmethods to put stuff in the database and use the load method of the dataservice to get the fresh data bound to the listview and itemview controls
Resources that I found to be very helpful :
Another problem with an ajax application is that the history button behavour gets broken. Or at least doesn't work as it is supposed to work. There is a library out there called the Real Simple History Framework that makes that a thing from the past.
A detailed article can be found here :