Using ASP.NET for AJAX in SharePoint Sites: Tread Gently for Now

We get asked about what we're doing about AJAX quite a lot these days, especially about ASP.NET for AJAX (the technology formerly known as "Atlas"). We *love* AJAX. We actually use AJAX (albeit not ASP.NET for AJAX) all over the place in SharePoint sites. Dropdown menus when clicking on Edit Control Buttom (ECB) menus? AJAX. The Settings menu on a site's home page? AJAX.

As for ASP.NET for AJAX, we love it (we're ASP.NET developers ourselves – how could we not? J), we're excited to see Beta 2 emerge, but given that we started working on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 in late 2003, it wasn't possible to engineer those products to ensure 100% compatibility at RTM.

We've been investigating this issue very carefully. We've been working directly with the ASP.NET team to come up with the nicest possible way of giving you the ability to make all of this work. But we're not ready yet. We know some things work fine, other things will work fine once one or both of our teams have done some extra work, and a few (hopefully very few) things won't be supportable in SharePoint sites.

Until we're ready, though, we'd truly appreciate it if you let us work it out rather than trying to hack a solution of your own. It will take some time, but whatever we're able to work out will be something we can support.

Here's what we can say with confidence today:

  • We will, when we release Service Pack 1 for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, officially support some – but probably not all – uses of ASP.NET in SharePoint site application pages, site pages, and Web Parts. Note that we just shipped WSS 3.0, and no, we don't yet have a target date for SP1. But when it comes out, it will include any work we believe we have to do for this (along with the usual bug fixes, etc.). We'll specifically tell you which ASP.NET for AJAX techniques are supported and which aren't. We'll have tested those scenarios and we'll know what happens with the techniques we wind up supporting.
  • Until we release Service Pack 1 for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, ASP.NET for AJAX is not supported. You're welcome to experiment with it, but we cannot endorse you using ASP.NET for AJAX on a production deployment of WSS 3.0, MOSS 2007, etc. If you do so anyway, you're in the support business for that kind of thing and/or you'll have to depend on the community for assistance. I, and the team, doesn't wish to be mean about this, but when we say we support something, it's because we've tested it under many, many use cases, know what to expect, etc. We can't say that today.

Besides, you're going to have enough to get done with SharePoint Products and Technologies given that you can download WSS 3.0 on the 16th of this month, aren't you?