Using Ajax can help you make web applications behave more like desktop applications. The more desktop-like applications become, the more developers tend to think about how to use components to deliver functionality to their pages and how to reuse this functionality once they’ve created it.
Atlas offers several ways to reuse components to add functionality to browser-based clients. The control extenders discussed in Chapter 1 are a prime example. Web Parts and Windows Live Gadgets are two others.
This chapter first covers Web Parts: an ASP.NET feature introduced in ASP.NET 2.0, which gets some extra spice thanks to Atlas. It then discusses implementing so-called Gadgets for the Microsoft portal http://Live.com, which shows you how to embed custom Atlas components on the new Microsoft portal and make them available for other users, as well.
This section will show how you can use Atlas with ASP.NET Web Parts to give users more control over the layout and content of an Atlas page. ASP.NET Web Parts are a set of controls that enable users to add, remove, and change elements on a page at runtime. Web Parts give you the ability in ASP.NET to create pages like the Google personalized home page (http://www.google.com/ig).
Web Parts are enabled using client script to support drag and drop, expand and collapse, and similar features. However, a limitation of Web Parts as shipped with ASP.NET 2.0 is that most of their functionality ...