We all know Asp.Net AJAX is technically ajax, but it generally passes one the main advantage of using ajax in the first place.
Sure ajax is slick for user interface, but where I feel it really helps is speed. For example, if you want to edit a row in a GridView, you can easily do this using the GridView, stick it in an UpdatePanel and poof... you have an 'ajax' interface. But, and this is a huge but, the *ENTIRE* GridView was actually pulled from the DataSource, not just the row you were using. Asp.Net AJAX is a great tool, but it sort of masks (nearly) complete postbacks as being asynchronous; which is extremely convenient for quick development, but does not really help in the realm of performance.
Basically, I look at Asp.Net AJAX as a lazy way to do 'ajax' - that's in quotes as it really isn't asynchronous. So, lately, I have been making it my mission to get familiar with jQuery and integrating *real* ajax into my projects; and the speed gains are extremely noticable and quite impressive! Now jQuery is not necessary, but I am waaay to lazy and unskilled to write raw JS to do what I want, plus people have already written amazing jQuery plugins to do tons of what I want; not to mention it is probably written better than I could do anyway.
So, I am going to be posting a series of Asp.Net with 'real' ajax tutorials and examples in the coming weeks. I am going to be recreating all the functionality that you can get out of a GridView normally with edit, delete, new, sort, page etc. - a full CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) system; but it will all be true ajax and very fast. Here are the topics that will be covered:
So stay tuned, I think you will be really impressed with how easy, and how much faster 'real' ajax is.