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Looking to the Future of ASP.NET

With ASP.NET 4 cooked and nearly ready to ship, the folks at Microsoft turned their attention to what will come next in the Web programming framework. During the one-hour ASP.NET Futures session held at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles at Monday, Jonathan Carter and Scott Hunter offered details on the direction developers can expect ASP.NET to take.

The ASP.NET team has set three broad goals for the next version: Reduced complexity, support for the HTML 5 standard, and improved performance and management.

On the complexity front, the pair walked through several new features that promise to provide simpler ways of getting common tasks done. For instance, the new SmartyRoute feature promises to do away with avoidable Page Not Found errors, by adding intelligence to the site when receiving URL requests. SmartyRoutes allow developers to identify the page or resources users want to access, even if they enter the wrong extension. SmartyRoute will also walk up path segments in a URL to locate the first valid ASPX file. Developers will be able to write one line of code, one time, to establish intelligent routing and ensure that context is provided when an invalid URL is input.

Carter and Hunter also walked through a series of ASP.NET Helpers that will provide streamlined image manipulation, better email authentication, and efficient management of long-running background task based on minimal code. They also demoed an improved file upload progress dialog box, which provides accurate context by tapping new resources in the ASP.NET framework.

Better, Faster
In the area of HTML 5 support, the two showed how ASP.NET developers can easily enable local storage access for Web apps, enabling offline productivity and allowing developers to save changes made to the server back to the local store or vice versa. ASP.NET will make these activities "extremely trivial" by automatically tracking user data to enable context.

Also discussed was support for new markup tags in HTML 5, including the ‹video›, ‹audio› and ‹menu› tags.

The session addressed the always-relevant issues of ASP.NET performance. One issue of concern is the processing of multiple HTTP transactions and file downloads, which can produce unwanted latency. The team hopes to introduce a mechanism, called Sprites, that automatically combine multiple images into a single image package that is downloaded in one step. The client then separates the images and renders them properly on the page.

Hunter and Carter also talked about the Velocity Distributed Cache platform and how this cluster caching resource might be used for general ASP.NET caching.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 11/18/2009

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