Installing & Running Microsoft AJAX on Your Web Server
There are many ways to implement AJAX on your website. There are different frameworks, different ways to extract information from the back-end database, and different libraries to jazz up the functionality of your page.
MS Ajax in the development environment
One of the most popular set of libraries for the purpose is Microsoft’s implementation of Ajax. This is now integrated with Visual Studio, and if you’ve got Visual Studio 2008, or Visual Studio Express editions, you can develop Ajax enabled web pages easily. Thus, in the development environment we don’t have to worry about installing MS Ajax at all, because if you’ve got Visual Studio, you’ve got MS Ajax.
MS Ajax Prerequisites
Microsoft Ajax is a Microsoft technology and will understandably run only on a Windows server machine. To run Micorosft AJAX on the server, you need the following minimum configuration.
Operating System : Windows Server (2000 and above)
.Net Framework : Install the latest version 3.5
IIS 6 Server Software
Remember, MS Ajax will run only on IIS, it will not run on Apache, or any other server software even under windows. That’s not a surprise anyway, because even ASP.Net runs only under IIS. So if you’re able to run and view ASP.Net pages successfully on your server, you have everything that’s needed to install MS Ajax on it.
Different Flavors of MS Ajax
There are two different types of MS Ajax libraries that you can set up on your computer, and they depend on the version of .Net framework that you have. In fact the ASP.Net installation that you have on your server also depends on the version of .Net Framework that you have. To install MS Ajax, you must have one of the following versions of .Net Framework.
.Net Framework 2
.Net Framework 3
.Net Framework 3.5
If you’ve got the .Net Framework 3.5 installed on the server, then you’ve got it easy. MS Ajax Extensions, necessary to run MS Ajax on the server has been made a part of .Net Framework 3.5, and every installation of .Net Framework 3.5 on the server automatically installs MS Ajax extensions as well.
Installing MS Ajax Extensions
For .Net Framework 2, and 3, you need to install the MS Ajax extensions manually. Here’s the download link to the installer.
Just copy and paste it into your browser’s address bar and it will take you to the Microsoft’s download page for MS Ajax extensions. Downloading the software to your computer is not going to help much though. You need to install it on the server.
Accessing the server
To install MS Ajax Extensions on the server, you need either physical access, or remote access to the server. If you’ve got a dedicated server, then most server providers will also give you the RDC (Remote Desktop Connection) login and password. You can login into the PC using Windows RDC and then work on the server just like you work on your own machine.
Look for the Remote Desktop Connection icon in Start->Programs->Accessories.
Download the MS Ajax Extensions from the link above on your server and run the installer. Installation is easy, and quick. Just click on the ‘Next’ button till it’s finished.
Note: If you don’t have remote access or physical access to your server, then you can’t install MS Ajax Extensions on it yourself. In this case you must ask the server provider to install MS Ajax Extensions for you.
Setting up IIS to Support MS Ajax
After the installation is finished, you’ll need to set up the correct version of .Net Framework on IIS so that Ajax starts working for you. MS Ajax requires .Net Framework 2 and above. So your websites must be set up to run with .Net Framework 2.
If you’re using server administration software like Plesk or DotNetPanel, you can make this change by the interface provided by them. But it’s just as easy to use Remote Access and make the change in IIS itself. Since IIS is universal, we’ll show you how to change the version of .Net Framework using IIS.
Now your IIS is set up to work with Microsoft Ajax too.
In case you’re wondering why we didn’t talk about selecting ASP.Net version 3.5 in IIS, it’s because .Net version 3, and version 3.5 are extensions of version 2. They do not show up separately in IIS, and if you’ve installed .Net 3.5 on your server, you’ll be able to enjoy all the features of MS Ajax 3.5 by selecting version 2 in IIS.
How to Make Ajax work in your projects
Making Ajax work in your projects is not just about the setup. You’ve got to do a little more. Every page that you want MS Ajax on must have the ‘ScriptManager’ control on it. The ScriptManager provides the gateway for all Ajax commands.
In Visual Studio 2008 you’ll find that the ScriptManager is a part of the standard toolset. That’s because .Net 3.5, which Visual Studio 2008 is built on, has MS Ajax in-built. In older versions of .Net Framework, you’ll have to add a reference to MS Ajax Tool Kit to get the Script Manager.
Just drop the Script Manager on your page, or in Visual Studio 2008 create a new file of the type ‘Ajax Web Form’ to create an Ajax enabled page. From this page you can perform Ajax functions, make calls to web services, or perform partial page updates using UpdatePanel.
Making Ajax Work on Your Website on the Server
Microsoft has a rich set of Ajax enabled interface controls that you can use to make your website get the look and feel of a true Web 2.0 Rich Internet Application. These controls are found in the Ajax Control Toolkit, earlier called Atlas Toolkit.
Download the toolkit from the following location:
You will find the ‘AjaxControlToolkit.dll’ file in the Binaries folder after installation. Create a reference to this DLL from within your website project and the entire control selection will be available to you.
When you upload your website to the server, make sure the ‘AjaxControlToolkit.dll’ file is in the ‘Bin’ folder inside your project. ASP.Net will automatically reference the controls from the Bin folder, and if the DLL is not in that folder, the website will not run.
This concludes our little tutorial on setting up Microsoft Ajax on the server, and enabling your web projects to run MS Ajax. Hopefully after reading this tutorial you’ll be able to set up Ajax successfully on your server.