For some time we've been all quiet on the Web Client team front. Today, we broke that silence and shipped the Contextual Autocomplete Guidance Bundle. This is the first of several new deliverables we will be releasing as part of Web Client vNext. As they ship, you'll be able to find them in our Bundle Catalog.

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We will follow up more about the strategy behind bundles in the near future. For now suffice it to say that the bundle is the product of a significant effort within Web Client to rethink how we deliver guidance. This effort is driven based on the multitude of feedback that we have received from the community and from our advisory board. 

Within this bundle you'll find guidance on enhancing the UI responsiveness of your Web Applications through utilizing ASP.NET AJAX to provide Contextual Autocomplete functionality. This guidance is applicable for both WCSF and standard ASP.NET non-WCSF based solutions.

Using the ContextSensitiveAutocompleteExtender included in the bundle means that your application can dynamically provide users a list of suggestions that are retrieved from a web service without doing a full postback. This list is filtered based on both the characters the user has typed, and additional context gathered from other related controls on the page. The result is a more fluid experience that requires less clicking and page transitions.

Within the Autocomplete bundle, you will find the following:

  • AutoComplete QuickStart: source code to demonstrate the Contextual AutoComplete functionality
  • PostalCode Web Service: source code to demonstrate calling a web service from the AutoComplete QuickStart
  • AJAXControlToolkit.WCSFExtensions.dll: Contains the ContextSensitiveAutoCompleteExtender
  • Acceptance Tests: Manual tests that can be executed to walk you through the Quickstart functionality.
  • Documentation: Documentation explaining Autocomplete, AJAX Patterns, the Quickstart, and how to use the extender.

What you won't find in this bundle is:

  • An MSI. The bundle ships as a simple zip with no installer required
  • A Guidance Package.
  • Dependency on CWAB, PageFlow, etc. Nothing we're doing here is dependent on the existing factory assets.
  • Database scripts. The Quickstart mocks out the database using a serialized XML dataset.

This does not in any way we mean we won't be creating Guidance Packages, or that CWAB is dead, by no means. As a matter of fact we are working on Guidance Packages and enhancements to CWAB as we speak. However, in order to keep the bundles simple, we're planning to ship a separate Blocks bundle that contains enhancements to CWAB, and a separate Guidance Package bundle that contains recipes around those enhancements.

For more details on the additional bundles, check out Mike's great post and keep checking Blaine's blog. Also check out the Autocomplete bundle FAQ.

In summary, we've worked hard to design the bundle to be extremely easy to consume and evaluate. We expect you to be up and running within minutes! If you don't believe me, go check out David's post.

Now the disclaimer :). Because this is a new way of delivering guidance for us we expect we may still have a few hiccups and refining work to do. Don't be bashful as all this work is for you. Please let us know what you think about the bundles, how useful they are, and how you'd like to see them evolve.

Now go download the bits here :)