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Mehul Harry is the DevExpress Web Program Manager. Follow him on twitter: @Mehulharry

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September 2014 - Posts

  • LONG LIVE The Ajax Control Toolkit - Open Source and now maintained by DevExpress

    The venerable AJAX Control Tookit has been downloaded over 9 million times. THAT’S A LOT. It was created in a time before jQuery, in a time before AJAX, in a time before today’s modern web. However, it’s super useful, and we here at DevExpress appreciate that there is a lot of good use to be had in these kinds of libraries.

    Some years have now passed and the AJAX Control toolkit has not kept up with changes in Visual Studio, changes in modern JavaScript, and changes in today’s web development. To be blunt, the library has significant issues, many unresolved, and yet it is still as popular as ever.

    So what can be done to support the past, present, and promote the future? Should the toolkit die in a fire? Of course not. Should it be scrapped and rewritten? No. What it needs is an infusion of modern JavaScript energy, and it just turns out that we here at DevExpress have energy to spare.

    What’s happening to the AJAX Control Toolkit?

    Unfortunately, the Toolkit is one of those open-source projects where everyone believes that someone else is looking after it and fixing issues, with the result that no one does. We do not want to see it stagnate like this.

    Some of our web developers have done some code analysis and spikes, and we have some solid ideas on how to fix the library and bring it into 2014 for use in the latest Visual Studio and beyond!

    Enter Microsoft, then Exit Microsoft...

    So, we contacted our friends at Microsoft (4 of them were named Scott) and offered to take over the maintenance of the toolkit. They were stoked about the possibilities and encouraged us to take over the project and forge ahead.

    What’s Step ZERO?

    There are issues. So our first priority is to get the toolkit to a stable condition -- at a minimum this will require adding tests and removing some of the half-finished changes -- and then adding back the newer functionality. This may involve rolling some things back a bit, but we intend to keep compatibility whenever possible. (We’re not going to do a Replace All “Microsoft.” to “DevExpress.”)

    This initial work is bound to take a few months, after all, we have updates to our own controls to implement, so don't expect anything until early 2015. We'll post updates of our progress as we go.

    Will it still be Open Source? Is this a Trick (™)?

    Totally, it’s a trap. Seriously, it is and will remain Open Source Software (OSS). It will simply be “AJAX Control Toolkit maintained by DevExpress”....and hopefully you!

    If YOU are passionate about the Toolkit, hit us up on Twitter or at mharry@devexpress.com and let’s talk. File issues, start discussions, and get involved!

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