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Lighting Fast Ajax Development for ASP.NET
In this article, I’ll introduce Gaia and explain how you can benefit from using it today. I'll also demonstrate some of its neat features and some of its advantages and disadvantages when compared to Microsoft ASP.NET Ajax.
Simple to Install
Have you ever struggled getting to grips with a new library or toolkit? The Gaia team set out to make Gaia Ajax Widgets fun and easy, so getting started should be child's play.
Installation is simply a matter of downloading and running the Gaia Ajax Widgets installer.
Once installed, you get more than 29 Ajax controls and widgets available to you, as shown in Figures 1 & 2.
Figure 1: Gaia gives you familiar controls that have been Ajax-enhanced
Figure 2 shows some of the more advanced widgets to be found in Gaia, which I'll discuss a little later in this article.
Figure 2: Advanced Gaia widgets let you add rich features to your applications
The next step is simply to start using these controls in your applications. Just drag them onto your pages and begin coding!
Comparing Gaia to Microsoft Ajax
Gaia controls are Ajax-enabled out of the box. You can now create great Ajax functionality simply by dragging controls onto your form and using your existing knowledge to write standard ASP.NET code in your code-behind pages.
But what's so special about that? To answer that question, let's compare the Gaia approach with that of Microsoft ASP.NET Ajax.
Firstly, Gaia does not need the ScriptManager or UpdatePanels. Instead, each control has been meticulously re-engineered to include sophisticated Ajax functionality as soon as you put them on the page. Web Services are not needed when implementing Ajax features with Gaia.
This makes development fast and fun, and the learning curve is tiny.
A Sample Page
To demonstrate how Gaia is used, Figures 3 and 4 show a simple ASP.NET Web Form. In this form, the user can type some text into a text box. As they type each letter, the letters appear below in reverse.
The interesting thing about this sample is that the code that reverses the text is run on the server in the code-behind. The green label is updated dynamically in real-time using Gaia Ajax.
Figure 3: ASPX Page in browser, with cool Ajax label being updated as the user types.
Lets look more closely at the code. You'll see we have a single method: TextBoxWord_TextChanged. This is an event handler which is called each time the user types a letter in the Gaia TextBox control. The handler method takes the user's text from the TextBox, reverses it and then shows the reversed text on screen by setting the Text property of the Gaia Label (line 14).
Did You Know?
Introducing the Advanced Widgets
Here's a complete list of the advanced widgets shown in Figure 2.
- Rich Edit
- Auto Completer
- Date Time Picker
- Tab Control
- Gaia Window
- Wizard Control
- Fish Eye Menu
- Dynamic Image
You can view samples of these online. Samples are all included in our free trial download.
Figure 5: A sample page showing some custom built resizable chart controls.
Build Your Own Widgets
Gaia is designed to be used as building blocks for your own customised widgets. No Gaia control is sealed, so you can extend them as you please.
We built this Ajax enabled Slider using only a handful of code. The Gaia DraggablePanel formed the base and we used an Image and some custom CSS. The slider is available in the latest release of Gaia, of course, because this is an Ajax control. After the slider is dragged, we respond to the event in the server-side code. This gives us many options; we could write something to a database or DataSet, call a web service or simply use Gaia to update other controls on the Page.
Figure 6 - Custom built Slider control was very easy to do
You can see a sample online or download a sample as part of our free trial.
Gaia is cultivating a fantastic user community. With an enthusiastic .NET fan base, Open Source LGPL licenses and 100% Mono support, Gaia is benefiting from massive developer feedback.
This means great forum response times and a terrific product development rate.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Gaia community!
90 Day Money Back Guarantee
We’re confident that you’ll love our library as many others do. If you’re not hooked within 90 days of purchasing, we’ll give you your money back!
This document was produced using a few tools we love: Fastone Screen Capture for screen shots and Google Docs Beta for collaborative writing.