"Atlas" 1.0 Naming and Roadmap

Over the last year we’ve been working hard on “Atlas”. It has evolved, changed, and grown because of the amazing amount of feedback and early adoption that we’ve seen. We’ve had an unbelievable amount of interest and excitement around the product, with more than 250,000 downloads this year alone.

Shipping “Atlas” 1.0

Many people have asked us to deliver a fully-supported 1.0 release of “Atlas” before the next release of Visual Studio. “Fully supported” means that Microsoft product support services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and that any customer can obtain hotfixes if they encounter a bug affecting their application. It also means that the product has a committed servicing product lifetime of 10 years – which provides companies with the ability to depend on it for mission critical applications.

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. Our goal is to ship the “Atlas” 1.0 release around the end of this year. The plan is to first have a Beta, then an RC, and then decide on the final date based on customer feedback.

“Atlas” Feature Delivery Plan

To help expedite the schedule and get out a fully supported release this year, we are going to focus on delivering a “core” set of fully supported functionality.  This core set of functionality includes all the common components needed to enable developers to build client-side controls/components, as well as the server-side functionality that provides integration within ASP.NET (including the super-popular update-panel and other server controls).

There are features of the current “Atlas” CTP drops that won’t be in the fully supported “core” bucket. These features will continue to be available in a separate download and will continue to work on top of the supported “core” release. We aren’t pulling back from these features at all.  We are simply trying to optimize the timing of the first fully supported set of features and also make sure that we have the flexibility to continue to evolve and innovate some features in a more agile fashion (whereas we are trying to “bake down” the core set of features and avoid having it change dramatically in the future).

We will obviously continue to support a Go-Live license for all features going forward. Enterprise customers who only want to use products backed by a full support agreement can optionally choose to only use those features in the “core” release.

Over time we will be moving more and more features into the fully supported bucket. We will also be publishing a detailed white paper listing features, release plans, and product changes from the CTPs to help with planning over the next few weeks.

“Atlas” Naming

As part of releasing “Atlas”, we have also finally locked on an official set of product names that we will begin using moving forward. What was formerly called “Atlas” will now have a few names:

1) The client-side “Atlas” javascript library is going to be called the Microsoft AJAX Library. This will work with any browser, and also support any backend web server (read these blog posts to see how to run it on PHP and ColdFusion).

2) The server-side “Atlas” functionality that nicely integrates with ASP.NET will be called the ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions. As part of this change the tag prefix for the “Atlas” controls will change from <atlas:>to <asp:>. These controls will also be built-in to ASP.NET vNext.

3) The “Atlas” Control Toolkit today is a set of free, shared source controls and components that help you get the most value from the ASP.NET AJAX Extensions. Going forward, the name of the project will change to be the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit.

In closing

We are really excited about being able to get a fully supported 1.0 release out. It will be 100% cross-browser and cross-platform. It will simplify adding rich AJAX functionality to ASP.NET applications, and it will enable hugely improved UX for end users. Getting this functionality into your hands in the most flexible way possible is our number one priority and we think the plan I outline above does just that.

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.




  • I'm going to keep calling it Atlas (for a while anyway), it's much cooler ;-)

  • Fantasic choice on Microsoft's part to make this a "fully supported" release. You guys are out front on Ajax for developers and know how to treat your developers right.

  • Now the question is, with achieving 100% browser compat... how badly do you hate safari? *chuckle*

  • Great news! This is production ready sooner than I expected, but then again just about everything has been a pleasant surprise with Atlas.

    (Author of 'Foundations of Atlas', Apress)

  • Hi Eric,

    One of the big things we've been working on this summer is doing some major rearchitecting/refactoring of the Javascript libraries.

    One of the specific reasons for this is to ensure great Safari support. With these changes all of the features in the "core" supported 1.0 release will fully support Safari.

    One other thing we focused on was minimizing the download size of the javascript. With the most recent builds we've got the total Atlas javascript library download size down to about 6k total (and obviously this is then cached on the client). This includes all of the support needed to enable the type-system, the client control framework, and everything needed to enable the UpdatePanel and associated ASP.NET server controls.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi alan,

    ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions is indeed a bit of a mouthful. Overtime all of this will just be built-in to the core ASP.NET setup. So I suspect a lot of people will just use "ASP.NET" to describe it all.

    Hope this helps,


  • Scott,
    Thanks for the update. News has been scarce on the Atlas front lately - I hope now things will start kicking into gear again.

    Any news on when we might be seeing the fruits of this major refactoring?

    Also, any word on Opera support in the framework? In my opinion, this is the biggest weakness of Atlas, especially compared to virtually every other Ajax framework out there.

  • Mmmmm...unable to register..busy ?

  • Scott,

    I've been using Atlas since PDC'05 and have developed a kind relationship with it :-). I take my hat off to all who have been involved with creating the product.

    The word 'Atlas' has 2 syllables, 'ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions' has 12 syllable’s. I wonder if Microsoft is doing itself a disfavor by doing all these renames late in the development cycle (I'm also thinking of the WPF/WCF/WWF vs. Avalon/Indigo, and the Expression family vs. Quarts/Acrylic/??? games).

    Are there really more pros than cons that defend the name changes? Who is the target audience that will benefit from it (I'm not sure how I will benefit)?

    The word 'Atlas' is very easy to pronounce, visually recognize, and it's particularly useful when searching help, internet, and blogs (e.g. "Atlas UpdatePanel" or "Atlas cascading dropdown"). This last part also implies that 'Atlas' is easy to use for those who contribute searchable content (i.e. people like Scott Guthrie :-)). A quick search reveals that you (Scott) have over 50 articles with the word 'Atlas' in the header.

    Anyway, I guess it's not a big deal, but sometimes you wonder if these renames really are beneficial. It certainly has caught my attention...


  • In the end the name was surprisingly acceptable IMHO. I was hoping it didn't get named in the lines Foundation or Framework. I think ASP.NET developers will refer to it as "the AJAX extensions" or "the AJAX library" interchangeably because all three modules are likely to be used together in a large part of the applications. Looking forward to 1.0 !

  • Why not keep the Atlas name?
    If its going to be a part of ASP.NET anyways, why bother?

  • Hi Scott,

    Great decision. Like any renaming attempt, you will get many people objecting to the change and stating that Atlas was cooler (it probably was). But the point is that anyone who hears the new name will instantly know what the technology does without any further explanation. This is a good decision.


  • This is great news. Things have been pretty quiet for Atlas over past few months with only 2 bug fix releases. Any chance we'll see a September CTP?

  • Hi Scott,

    My feeling is that the name Microsoft AJAX Library is completely wrong for the client side library. Many of us have developed a lot around the client side library and all the features of the library can hardly be described by "ajax" (hey, UpdatePanel wasn't always what it is today). The name itself makes it seems that Microsoft is dying to get on the ajax bandwagon all the while it has been at the forefront. Ignoring all and sticking to the facts AJAX is the wrong name since Atlas uses JSON rather than XML =)

    Just my 2 cents. Good luck with the product release, you guys are doing a great job.

  • Hi Scott,

    this is fantastic news.

    How does this relate to Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2005?

  • Hi Mark/Kevin,

    The team has actually been working on a 1.0 fork of the code for the last few months, which is why the two most recent CTP drops only had a few critical bug fixes in them (the major work in the 1.0 branch).

    As I mentioned above, broader browser support is one reason for some of the architectural changes we've made. As we've been working on improved tool features we've also made some changes to add better Javascript intellisense and debugging support. We've also done a ton of performance tuning and footprint size reduction.

    All of these changes should show up in the next CTP. We don't have a final ETA for this CTP -- since we are still finalizing some of the pieces.

    Hope this helps,


  • >As I mentioned above, broader browser

    Ah, interesting, I didn't pick that up. I guess I read "cross-browser" as "cross browser, for the browsers we choose to support". :)

    That's really excellent news. I'm excited to get a peek at the new bits.

  • When the Atlas begin to run on Opera browser?

  • What is a UX? Is that a AJAX powered user interface?

  • Hi Martin,

    We are going to ship 1.0 independent of VS 2005 SP1 (it will work regardless of whether you have it installed or not).

    The "Atlas" 1.0 binaries don't actually affect VS at all -- since they are framework binaries as opposed to design-time binaries.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Larry,

    Good question -- "UX" actually is shorthand for "user experience". I should have probably called it out instead.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi MaD,

    We are looking at Opera support right now. What we've said is that all "Atlas" features in the 1.0 release will work with FireFox, IE and Safari. Our hope is to make the same statement about Opera - but at this point we haven't finalized that yet.

    What we do know is that many features will work on Opera (again - the goal is to be able to say all do, but we haven't fully tested yet). In the event that we find a feature that doesn't fully work on Opera, we will clearly document those scenarios so people can optionally work around them, or degrade

    Hope this helps,


    P.S. This is consistent with most other AJAX frameworks, most of which also sometimes have some issues with certain features working in Opera.

  • Hi Foobar,

    You can still affectionally call it "Atlas" and people will know what you mean. :-)



  • It's nice to see the Atlas tem keeping the Opera browser in mind.

  • Great. Looking forward to it. You know, I was actually waiting for something like this to be announced before I would even look at Atlas, makes it a bit more 'official'.

    It's not gonna be in Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 though, right?

  • Congratulations, that's a new passage towards a final Release.

    I will hope with anxiety that day.

  • Will it be part of .NET Framework 3.4.7 (sorry lost count)? If not how would you otherwise position these AJAX frameworks in the .NET Framework?

    I mean that I find it kind of strange that stuff like WCS and WF make the .NET Framework but these AJAX libraries not?

  • Scott,

    can you tell us if this announcement has any implications on nikhil's script#?

  • Hi Gabriel,

    .NET Framework 3.0 ships before the "Atlas" 1.0 release, otherwise it would be included within that.

    The next release of the .NET Framework will, though, include all of the functionality within the "Atlas" 1.0 release.

    In general, we are trying to use separate small releases like "Atlas" that work on existing versions of the framework to be able to get features into developers hands quickly (without them having to wait for the next full major framework release to ship). We will then roll up these features into the bigger framework release the next time time it ships.

    This model hopefully provides both agility and immediate developer value, as well as the overall simplicity of one unified framework install that ships on a regular release schedule.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Manuel,

    You'll definitely be able to use Script# to target the 1.0 release. It will continue to be a great way to build apps using it.

    Hope this helps,


  • We have been utilizing Atlas for internal apps in production and so far our internal users (Customer Service and Warehousing) are loving it. We were hoping to launch some consumer products using the tookit, really soon. What is the migration path going to looklike? I dont want to realease to production for consumers if we are going to have to make major changes.


  • You passed on an opportunity to expand the "Microsoft Windows Live" and "Windows ____ Foundation" brands? Well done, sir!

    These specific names pretty much crush my hopes[1] that you'd sneak SubSonic in the mix, though. Any possibility of somehow sponsoring, endorsing, or co-opting SubSonic in some way?

    [1] http://weblogs.asp.net/jgalloway/archive/2006/08/30/SubSonic-_2800_formerly-ASP.NET-ActionPack_2900_-_2D00_-Microsoft-should-ship-this-with-Atlas.aspx

  • News at 7: The fears were founded today when Microsoft took a perfectly good product name, gave it to marketing, and came up with a very lame replacement. Typical Microsoft.

  • It will always be 'atlas' to me :)

  • I agree that this is groundbreaking. This has It has created an unbelievable hype among the developer communities world-wide.

  • Great news . I have alrady used ATLAS frame work in 3 of my projects. The support of Visual Studion would be great

  • Do all the developers just die a little more inside everytime the naming police get done beating the ever living passion and life out any semi-cool sounding project name?

    Seriously, you guys do some awesome work but your ability to name anything *sucks*. Please for the love of humanity do NOT even attempt to name your children without outside help.

  • > It will be 100% cross-browser and cross-platform.

    Yeah right.

  • Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the info.
    With regard to the server controls, if the tag prefix is changing from atlas to asp and with the plans to integrate the controls into the next version asp.net, will we see the controls move from the Microsoft.Web.UI.Controls namespace to System.Web...?


  • Nice to have an official supported release.
    What about Atlas 1.0 integration in SharePoint (WSS 2007 for example) ?

  • This is perfect new! It is earlier that I expected to get the "released version". Thanks for the update.

  • Great naming couldn’t be straighter forward and so précis.

  • Yes,
    nice to see official support for Atlas.
    I'm impatient for Orcas to arrive :-)

  • I really love the fact that it will be final as soon as this year.
    While go-live licenses exist, few clients are willing to adopt new technologies while still in beta.
    That will change now :)

  • Ive been waiting for quite some time to hear a release date for Atlas.

  • This is great news. I've been putting off migrating our huge app from ASP to ASP.Net mainly because our app was doing AJAX before ASP.NET was released. ASP.Net really pushed any rich GUI experience on the web backwards if anything( Lousy user experience with its full page posts etc..).
    Bravo - Can't wait!

  • Scott, how does your claim, "It will be 100% cross-browser and cross-platform" tie in with your other statement, "What we've said is that all 'Atlas' features in the 1.0 release will work with FireFox, IE and Safari. Our hope is to make the same statement about Opera - but at this point we haven't finalized that yet." There seems to be a disconnect there! Please, please try and make Opera work otherwise 'Atlas' won't be "100% cross-browser" and won't be any use to a large number of developers who need to support all browsers. Thanks!

  • Since there’s been some confusion about Opera support - let me clarify where we are on that.

    The Atlas 1.0 release will work with a broad variety of browsers on different platforms. We will specifically test it on the following browsers:

    - Internet Explorer 5.5+
    - Mozilla
    - Safari
    - Opera 9 (we don’t support this in the CTP today, but we are adding this before V1 release based on strong feedback)

    This means that we will formally support (through product support) developers with issues that arise on these browsers.

    We think this set of browsers represents the majority of browsers in use out there. We will continue to look at adding support for other browsers depending on demand - if you have one you’d like to suggest, please let us know on the Atlas site, or by emailing me directly. Of course, we’ll continue to support new versions of the browsers above as they evolve as well.

    Due to some differences in browser implementations, a few features may not work fully on all these browsers. For example, Opera does not always support dynamic loading of scripts well, which you need to enable a few scenarios (this is true not just for Atlas but for any Ajax library with a feature that uses dynamic script loading). We’ll have a page on our site that identifies any features that have caveats like this -- so you can always make sure you understand any issues that browsers might have. As browsers continue to evolve and improve to support AJAX better, hopefully this list disappears entirely (although you'll still probably want to reference it for older browsers).

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Scott,

    Cool :)



  • Hi Scott,

    will the changes in the control naming from to affect the currently developed website? I've few web pages developed using . With final installation, do I need to change the name of all??


  • Awesome! I can't wait to start using it in real applications instead of my own hobby projects. But as some of the earlier comments mentioned i find it odd that the "addons"have such different names why just not call them "Microsoft Ajax: Extensions" and "Microsoft Ajax: Control Toolkit"

  • Scott,
    This is definitely very good news. I have been hesitating to recommend Atlas usage in our products because of the uncertainty of the release date. With a release date towards the end of this year and also being decoupled from visual studio service pack releases, I will be able to strongly recommend its usage and I am confident of getting approval. I appreciate your team’s decision and hard work.


  • I'm not too concerned what Atlas winds up being called. What I'm concerned about is that code that has been built will have to be reworked when the 1.0 version is released. This reminds me of the headaches we had everytime a new Java runtime was released. Often people had 3 or 4 different versions of the runtime because of lack of backwards compatibility. This could easily have been avoided with a little forward thinking.

  • Hi Michael,

    One of the big motivations for doing the 1.0 release is to lock down the core APIs for "Atlas" and ensure that they are fully compatible going forward. This will give developers (and ISVs like control vendors) the foundation needed to build on going forward.

    Hope this helps,


  • Congrats Scott, it must be a relief to know your project has succeeded internally.

  • But will it be XHTML 1.1 compliant? Currently my pages won't validate with Atlas, so I won't use it.

  • Congratulations on the big step. Me and my team are currently using ATLAS everywhere, but we really became dissapointed to hear the new name. ATLAS was simple, catchy and search-engine friendly due to it's uniqueness.

    The new name is just too long (too many spaces?) and not so-oh-hot-n-catchy as ATLAS sounded.

    And Opera's support will be a great great addition that will relief a lot of developers making them sleep calmly having their websites running smoothly across browsers.

    PS: thanx for pointing out that the controls will change from to so we can get ready for that.

  • Hi,
    we are developing a solution on Atlas. its going fine for all of us right now. our application will last atleast next 4 years. So do I keep adding some extra time for a new release.???.
    Will MS will help to convert solution developed in betas to final releases ??.

  • Hi Shail,

    We'll have documentation that lists the changes between the CTPs and final Beta/Releases. You'll be able to use this to identify any changes you need to make.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Domenic,

    Yes -- Atlas will be XHTML 1.1 compliant.

    Hope this helps,


  • I like the idea of Atlas but are there any plans to include support for the eLVira platform in future releases of ASP.NET?

  • i m new born baby in the world of software engineering. thats great Altas going to be final.

  • Are there plans to support Virtual Earth v3 anytime soon? I really need layer support and would like to do it with Atlas -- Thanks!

  • Hi Geri,

    We are looking at doing an Atlas specific Virtual Earth control at somepoint in the future. Until then, though you should still be able to use the client-side Atlas features with the Virtual Earth API that they've exposed via Javascript.

    Hope this helps,


  • Scott,

    Now that it has been a few weeks from your original post, I was wondering if you had any clarification on the next CTP release date. I'm looking forward to the changes in the core libraries (especially the renaming of $()) and wanted to get an idea of when they'll be available.


  • Will Atlas continue to work with VWD Express ?

  • Hi Chakravarthy,

    Yep -- Atlas will definitely work with VWD Express.

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi Todd,

    We have a private beta going on right now for an upcoming CTP we'll be doing later this month. It is a pretty major update, hence the reason we are taking a little time making sure we get everything right.



  • Hi Scott! Do you know a more specific date of the final version of ATLAS? Is it will be ready in the beginning of December 2006? Thanks.

  • Hi Yaroslav,

    We actually just released Beta1 of it here: http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2006/10/20/ASP.NET-AJAX-Beta-1-Released.aspx

    Hope this helps,


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