Atlas Should Not Require Javascript

by Jesse Liberty

Is this a radical idea?

I'm about to publish an article advocating that ASP.NET programmers should be able to use Atlas controls to obtain Ajax client-side capabilities with zero Javascript programming. Is this really a radical idea?


2006-08-01 20:16:31
Would you also advocate that web developers should not learn HTML until last?

Javascript has so much syntax similarity to c# that i really can't understand why so many .net developers are so scared of it.

2006-08-02 00:27:10
Check out
2006-08-02 05:26:46
I don't think it is a question of fear; it is a question of JavaScript not being type safe, not being object oriented, and not being necessary to get the work done.

Actually, I think I might advocate that an ASP.NET developer hold off on learning very much HTML; it isn't clear that other than a few fundamentals there is much need for HTML in the development of an ASP.NET application (one actually could write an ASP.NET application without any), but the case is somewhat different because HTML is (a) only being used for layout and (b) much more likely to be reviewed.

The truth is that the well-tested Atlas control will not require the developer to review the Javascript very often at all, and if the devoper tried, the level of JavaScript expertise would be far higher than the level of HTML expertise generally expected.

Now, that said, you haven't really made an argument for why I should care about the Javascript. Is there a good reason to care?

2006-08-02 06:35:29
Here's an idea that's off the wall, out of left field, etc.: you could try to use GWT for your javascript coding. Of course, I have no idea at all how easy/hard it is to interface GWT with Atlas.
2006-08-02 16:22:32

Actually, JavaScript supports both OO and funtional programming.

Also, understanding what is being abstracted is critical; see Joel Spolsky's The Law of Leaky Abstractions.

2006-08-02 19:48:54
In fact, when I program, my implicit approach is to use Microsoft controls first, third part controls second, and custom controls only when necessary.
I agree!!
2006-08-03 18:47:11
hi jesse, i thought you were so radical to the point of saying that AJAX should work even with JavaScript on the browser turned off :P

seriously I agree with you...the easy thing about ATLAS is that you just make use of the ATLAS controls via composition, and you can instantly turn any ASP.NET web forms app into AJAX-powered apps that don't fully post back. i was able to create a few apps with it with zero added javascript. so it's not really radical...i'd say it should be the goal. of course, I still would like to be able to slide into JavaScript should I need to do so...

2006-08-21 09:09:30
You should check out the "Atlas" Control Toolkit at It's not an official part of "Atlas," but its goal is to allow people to easily extend their existing ASP.NET pages with AJAX functionality. To use most of their extenders you don't need to know any JavaScript. It's a work in progress though.

However, I do believe that you're going to need to learn some JavaScript to use "Atlas." I seriously wonder what's going to happen when developers with no JavaScript knowledge using the Google Web Toolkit get an error in their automagically generated client-side code. Will they even have a chance to debug it? I think if you're writing an AJAX application, you'll have to at least understand the basics of your platform if you're hoping to ship anything on time.