The Ajax Experience conference kicked off yesterday in beautiful San Francisco... I am having a great time down here already.  It is WAY different than some of the big Microsoft run conferences (PDC, TechEd).. for one thing I am one of only three MS employees down here ;-) 

 

I have already learned a lot from the attendees and the speakers... A few nuggests I picked up...

-          Even at this Ajax conference there are still a fair number of people doing their first project.  We are very early this Ajax technology cover... it is only going to grow!

-          Microsoft is acknowledged as inventing the base level technologies (DHTML, XmlHttp) that make Ajax possible today... (of course GoogleSuggest and GMail are noted as popularizing it)

 

-          This is a creative bunch... the constraints of web based development has attracted\bread a community of pragmatic problem solvers. These folks are not super concerned with what a one company does or even one standards body – what they are focused on is what works – what works broadly across browsers\OS... If that feels like a bit of a hack then so be it – as one of the speakers last night said “this whole thing is a hack”.

-          IE is clearly not the most popular browser among this community... I’d suggest folks check out Dean Hachamovitch talk at Mix for a little background on where IE is today and where it is going... Maybe we can get Dean out here next time ;-)

 

-          Many folks here seem to LOVE Jscript.  They definitely feel like Jscript is a powerful, first class language worthy of writing big real-world apps.

 

-          The tools story seem to be sadly lacking... VI and EMACS seem to be the development tools of choice.  If you do your development on Windows, I’d suggest checking out the FREE Web development tool that offers very good development and debugging support for JScript. 

 

-          Ajax development is begging for great frameworks to be written.  One of the panelist pointed out that no one should be doing Ajax development “in the raw”... you should be using one of the many Ajax frameworks that are out there.  Dojo, Prototype, Atlas, etc. 

 

-          User Experience maters.  They keynote last night talked noted that in many ways you can build a richer, more immersive experience on the web than in a rich client app.  He also acknowledged that this trend does seem to be changing with WPF and the Expression tools for it.

 

-          Xaml, WPF\E and the small, cross platform, cross browser CLR are seen potentially big discontinuities that have the potential to remove some of the limitations on graphical richness and Jscript performance that the Ajax community has to live with today. I tend to agree and will predict that in addition to more talks on Atlas next year, we will hear some talks on WPF\E...

-          Atlas is really seen as being an extension of ASP.NET... we need to make it more clear that the Atlas Jscript library can be used on any client and any server

-          I was brave enough to ask a couple of folks about why they don’t do client apps.  The answer is clear Deployment, Deployment, Deployment.  This is a problem that has to be solved for any client technology to take off in this world.