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Microsoft Updates Atlas With New CTP

Microsoft released a new preview this week of its Atlas framework, along with two related tool sets, part of a push to continue the Web developer-tools momentum Microsoft stoked at its Mix06 conference last month.

That conference introduced a Go-Live license for Atlas, permitting the toolkit to be used in production projects. Slated for inclusion in the next version of Visual Studio, Atlas is Microsoft's response to the rise of AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

New "community technology preview" builds of Atlas are released every few weeks. The latest, posted Monday on the project's Web page, introduces the Atlas Control Toolkit, which offers precoded functionality for an assortment of common UI elements like drop-down boxes and collapsible show/hide panels.

Microsoft plans to solicit controls from its development community and will encourage swapping, Atlas manager Scott Guthrie said in his blog. It intends to soon designate the Atlas Control Toolkit a shared-source project, allowing selected developers outside Microsoft to contribute to the software's code base.

Microsoft also recently posted the first release candidate of Web Application Projects, a Web project model that's available as an alternative to the one built into Visual Studio 2005. Microsoft says it will support both models and allow developers to choose which one best suits their needs.