One of the questions I was recently asked at a user group meeting in Europe was whether it was possible to use ASP.NET AJAX within SharePoint 2007 solutions. This was a common enough question that the SharePoint team recently blogged about their plans with ASP.NET AJAX to help answer it. You can read their post here.
At a highlevel, official support for ASP.NET AJAX within SharePoint will be coming with the first service pack of SharePoint 2007. This is because SharePoint 2007 shipped before ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 did, and so there is some work the SharePoint team needs to-do to make it integrate nicely.
In the meantime, though, you can read the SharePoint team's blog post here on how to install ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 on a SharePoint 2007 site and start using its functionality today. There are some caveats to using it until the first service pack ships - but the steps in their blog post will help you start using it immediately. Also make sure to check out Eric Schoonover's blog post on a custom AjaxBasePart web part that his team has created to help with using ASP.NET AJAX within custom web parts you build.
SharePoint and ASP.NET Developer Information
For more information on SharePoint and Web Parts, please check out these past posts of mine:
Also check out the SmartPart control plug-in for SharePoint 2007 that allows you to deploy any ASP.NET 2.0 user control as a web part within SharePoint 2007.
SharePoint and ASP.NET Web Part Development Books
While on the subject of SharePoint Developer and ASP.NET Web Parts, there are two great books on SharePoint development that I've been hearing very good things about lately. The first book is Todd Bleeker's "Developer's Guide to the Windows SharePoint Services v3 Platform" which has a 5 star rating (out of 5) on Amazon after 11 reviews, and which has been burning up the Amazon most popular lists the last few months:
The second book is Darren Neimke's "ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts in Action: Building Dynamic Web Portals" which provides a great way to learn how to build sites that use ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts, as well as how to build custom Web Parts of your own:
The beauty of web parts is that with ASP.NET 2.0 you can now build ones that can work and be customized by end-users within any ASP.NET web site/application (no SharePoint required), as well as have these same web parts work and run within SharePoint 2007 (both the free Windows SharePoint Services edition as well as the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server version). This provides a tremendous amount of developer power, and opens up a lot of options.
Free Application Templates for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
One of the things the SharePoint team has been very focused on the last few months has been with putting together free application templates that you can download and use with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (which is the free version of SharePoint that you can download and install on any Windows Server box).
You can learn more about these application templates here. Below is a list of some of the templates with custom web parts provided for free download today:
- Board of Directors
- Business Performance Reporting
- Case Management for Government Agencies
- Classroom Management
- Clinical Trial Initiation and Management
- Competitive Analysis Site
- Discussion Database
- Disputed Invoice Management
- Employee Activities Site
- Employee Self-Service Benefits
- Employee Training Scheduling and Materials
- Equity Research
- Integrated Marketing Campaign Tracking
- Manufacturing Process Management
- New Store Opening
- Product and Marketing Requirements Planning
- Request for Proposal
- Sports League
- Team Work Site
- Timecard Management
What is great about these templates is that once you download and install them, you can optionally add custom ASP.NET web parts to it, and use standard ASP.NET 2.0 techniques to customize it further. This makes it dramatically easier to build and deploy common solution applications.
Some Final Information for Hosters Wanting to Offer SharePoint Offerings
For hosters reading this who want to offer SharePoint based hosting solutions to customers, please make sure to check out the excellent "Creating Shared Hosting Solutions on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0" solution guide that Microsoft shipped this past Monday. It provides really detailed instructions and prescriptive guidance on how to best deploy and manage SharePoint in a shared hosting environment, and enable thousands of customers to run on a single shared hosting server.
Hope this helps,