Saturday, February 03, 2007

It finally dawned on me why I don't like the name "ASP.Net AJAX"

Microsoft renamed their AJAX offering from ATLAS to ASP.Net Ajax around November last year. Now I personally never quite understood what was so bad about ATLAS, but I do realize that as a general rule, product code names generally have to change at some point before the release to the main stream, (Longhorn -> Vista, etc...), but I must confess that quite often Microsoft completely screw it up.


I guess there is significant pressure from various departments, notably marketing and branding who want to maintain a consistent theme, and have the morbid fascination with trying to imbibe descriptive meaning into product names, and also from the legal department who are desperately trying to avoid trademark infringements. This is why I didn't blog about the name change when I first learned of it, but I always felt a huge sense of disappointment about the change, but couldn't quite put my finger on why I was so disappointed... until this week.


Beyond the obvious lack of imagination displayed taking the two core technologies (ASP.Net and AJAX), and just combining them (which in itself causes some confusion), I realised something this week when I was attempting to debug an issue with the library. As a developer one of our most important tools is our favourite Internet search engine. Whenever we come across a problem say with a CSS styling that isn't displaying correctly in a browser we just go to our favourite search engine and type in a question, for example "CSS min-width Internet Explorer". In Google the first page of the previous search returns all types of useful hits, including information regarding the fact that min-width is not supported in Internet Explorer 6.0 and a number of ways you can work around this. This is very powerful and allows us to do our jobs a lot quicker.


I discovered when trying to debug a problem with ASP.Net AJAX that this using ASP.Net and AJAX is not only longer to type than ATLAS, but returns all kinds of results that you wouldn't really be interested in. If you just type in ASP.Net AJAX into Google, the first page returns (as you'd expect), the official home page (, and a few other relevant topics, but then it starts to get more off-topic, like other component vendors offering AJAX style controls in ASP.Net such as ajaxium, ajaxpro, etc..., this is then further confounded if you need more search terms. The search is helped marginally by quoting "ASP.Net AJAX", but still returns that ajaxium website in the first page of results.


If Microsoft had've done what the trend is in the rest of the industry and actually used some imagination to come up with a short sharp name that was unique in the industry space, it could've made all our lives a little bit easier.

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