Every time you work with Gmail, you're using a Single Page Application (SPA), which offers a rich user experience within a single page. Navigation techniques and AJAX provide necessary functionality without a page reload. A recent Visual Studio update includes templates for building SPAs with ASP.NET.
The basics about SPAs
Before we dive into the ASP.NET offerings, let's take a quick tour of the key ingredients of a SPA, along with more examples that thoroughly embrace the concept.
While SPA is described as "single page," it doesn't mean there is only one page or content screen; you can utilize multiple data views within a page — show/hide as needed, load data via AJAX, etc.
An excellent example of the SPA concept is FreeTheChicken.org, which uses scrolling to deliver multiple screens of content all contained within one page request. The Hungree site is another good example (although I cannot read it without a translator) — I love the simple design.
SPA via ASP.NET
The SPA concept uses core web technologies and standards, so it is easily accomplished via ASP.NET. You can build everything from scratch, but ASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2 download provides SPA templates (and many more updates), so you don't have to reinvent the wheel when tackling a project. There are four templates available.
The templates are an excellent SPA starting point. We'll take a closer look at some of these templates and their technologies in future articles.
Go for a test drive
One of the great (and often irritating) aspects of web development is its fluidity — things are always changing. Years ago, table-based page layouts were seen as good solutions to layout problems, and now the SPA concept is big with developers building applications for multiple platforms. Who knows what the next new thing will be, but for now, we embrace the trend and use the available technologies.
SPAs allow you to create a dynamic user experience with a (hopefully) smaller number of server round-trips. Take the latest Visual Studio 2012 SPA templates for a test drive to gain a better understanding of how to build such applications using ASP.NET.Keep your engineering skills up to date by signing up for TechRepublic's free Software Engineer newsletter, delivered each Tuesday.
Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a production environment on a daily basis.