Those of you who have worked with ASP.NET 3.5 will know that the new version of ASP.NET has built in support for AJAX and that the Visual Studio 2008 IDE also supports a new set of controls called the AJAX Control Toolkit. This Toolkit was nothing but a suite of custom built controls that extended the existing functionality or else added new functionality to ASP.NET server controls. So with this new release, you got to see cascading drop down boxes, auto completion text boxes, password strength indicators and so forth. Never before were tools for Web applications so rich and powerful.
The ASP.Net AJAX Control Toolkit was developed by the .NET community. Although Microsoft supports the codeplex.com Website where the controls are hosted, Microsoft did not and does not involve itself in the development of the toolkit. However that did not stop the Toolkit from becoming hugely popular. To use the AJAX Control Toolkit, all you had to do was download the zip file and reference the DLL in your ASP.NET application to add the controls to the Toolbox.
Likewise, now with the Silverlight technology, the Silverlight Toolkit has been developed by the community and is hosted at http://www.codeplex.com. Some controls and components that are not available in Silverlight are the TreeView, AutoCompleteBox and NumericUpDown. So the community decided to build these and lots of such others in the Silverlight Toolkit for use with Silverlight.
As of November 2008, there are 12 controls in the Toolkit:
More are expected in the near future.
One of the best things about the Toolkit project is that it is completely transparent. Developers can even get access to the source code, bug reports and fixes, the test cases and so forth. The feedback from the community is taken into consideration while development. This helps to make it more and more better.
This article gave a brief introduction to the Silverlight Toolkit.
Stay tuned for more....the next part will explore more about the Toolkit and how to work with each of these controls.