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<Atlas and the viewstate ⁄ >

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Virtually any ASP.NET developer has a love/hate relationship with viewstate.

On one end, developers love it because it makes programming much simpler and, I would say, natural. You have a server textbox and set it to a value; the textbox morphs into a INPUT tag and users change its value; when back on the server, the same textbox reflects changes and maintains the same settings not modified through the client interaction. This is just great--and would be just impossible without the viewstate.

On the other hand, viewstate easily clogs the bandwidth as it can reach important sizes also for relatively simple pages. For these reasons, viewstate is often smoke in the eyes of Web devs. However, thanks to a new serialization format the size of viewstate is reduced by about 50% in ASP.NET 2.0--without requiring ANY change on your side.

What about Atlas? As of today, when you make a page method call through Atlas the viewstate is packed and sent across the wire. Most of us complain because of the extra burden and because--some say--Ajax.NET doesn't do anything of the kind. I met Bertrand LeRoy at DevConnections in Nice and reminded of this old-but-still-valid post on the subject of viewstate in out-of-band calls.

Viewstate is necessary because it allows you to insert your out-of-band request in the track of traditional postback requests. In this way, you get all server-side events up to PreRenderComplete and more importantly you get "changed" events.

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