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Microsoft Releases Atlas 300

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the another-technology-to-ignore dept.
Jason Lind writes "Much earlier than anticipated, Microsoft announced the release of Atlas this afternoon at MIX 06. For those who don't know, Atlas is Microsoft's AJAX API for ASP.NET 2, which they claim will greatly reduce the effort in developing AJAX style applications on their platform."
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Microsoft Releases Atlas

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  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:56PM (#14959698) Homepage
    If it's anything like the rest of ASP.net, It will require that you use Microsoft's wonderful web technology, with __viewstates, and other wonderful features. You won't be able to customize it nearly enough to do a professional job, and will only work for really quick and sloppy applications that don't really need AJAX anyway. I use ASP.Net on a daily basis. We've found the best thing to do is to ignore all the form/component stuff that microsoft has built, and just use tools we have built ourselves, which although they do many of the same features, are much more extensible and easier to use.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      don't mistake your incompetence for bad software
    • Well .NET controls are made to be extended. If you're just ignoring that functionality, though (dealing with custom forms and parsing out the post and get values perhaps) then you're not really buying into .NET - you're just writing normal apps in C# instead of some other language. The form and component stuff is what allows you to design web pages the same way you would design an event-based windows GUI.

      The ATLAS framework, for people who do get into .NET style programming, is freakin awesome. All you h
  • easier? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Douglas Simmons (628988) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:57PM (#14959701) Homepage
    which they claim will greatly reduce the effort in developing AJAX style applications on their platform

    ... provided you buy and use their coding gui frontend ware?

  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:57PM (#14959703) Homepage
    Personally I think the whole Ajax thing is overblown and will die down in the next year or two.

    Are there good uses for Ajax? Sure. Google Maps is probably the single best example out there at the moment, and I would expect some more to show up soon.

    BUT, will Ajax supplant the client app as the workhorse of productivity applications? Not a chance:

    • Ajax requires all communication be serialized using a Javascript callback scheme that requires extensible but ultimately limiting xml communication between client and server.
    • To get good performance, Ajax forces you to code a front-end application using JAVASCRIPT. Now I've coded some pretty complicated Javascript stuff, but it's just not the right language for writing full-featured applications. It's barely even object oriented, weak typed, etc. And debugging it is a disaster.
    • If instead you decide to have the server make all the UI decisions for you ("put this text here, that box there"), that's fine except you'll see lag anytime you do anything. Imagine trying to update an entire column of data in Ajax Spreadsheet. The server has to send down exactly what to put in each cell and do all the computations for you before you see anything. Google Maps has this problem - I often see white boxes, unrefreshed boxes, etc. and I'm using the latest Firefox!

    The funniest thing for me about Ajax is it basically is just doing what Java Applets can do, only Java is better. WTF?!?!

    • My thoughts exactly. I cringe to think to what it would be like to maintain an entire web application that did everything in AJAX. Even with a development environment that was built to support AJAX, I think it would still be a nightmare. AJAX is good for little features within a web application, but is not the best way to do the entire application.
      • It seems more and more like Ajax is the new Flash.
      • My thoughts exactly. I cringe to think to what it would be like to maintain an entire Unix application that did everything in X11. Even with a development environment that was built to support X11, I think it would still be a nightmare. X11 is good for little apps like calculators and graphical terminals, but is not the best way to do the entire application.

        Or, on the other hand, maybe we could make widget libraries that do all the heavy lifting of X11 for us? Then we could program to the widget libraries rather than the uber-complex X11 drawing library! Genius!

        The same is true of AJAX. Right now, everyone is programming at the lowest level. What AJAX needs is a higher level set of widgets that can accelerate development. Mozilla took the XUL path, but that won't work for cross-browser applications. We need a general-purpose widget library written using the standard HTML DOM. Then AJAX will become a quick and easy option.

        Unfortunately, Atlas isn't it. This is just a collection of custom tags to simplify and standardize ASP programming.
        • That's a great analogy, but there is one crucial difference between X11 and Javascript: X11 was designed in an academic environment, while JavaScript + AJAX evolved in a de-facto way alongside HTML.

          You could write Widgets to run on AJAX just like you could on X11, but it will be really tough since AJAX is not a standard, and it wasn't intended for that purpose. It's just not a solid basis. I'm not saying it won't happen, but it won't be pretty. I'm not sure that such a widget library will ever be truly
          • it will be really tough since AJAX is not a standard, and it wasn't intended for that purpose.

            AJAX is certainly standardized. There's even a W3C standard being worked on that would make XMLHttpRequest official. The rest of the DHTML stuff is all part of the DOM Level 2 standard. (A standard that is several years old.) Even Microsoft supports the standard, with the exception of DOM Events. (I always have to patch their $@#$! browser on the fly to make it fully standards compliant.)

            AJAX may be overhyped, but
        • by FecesFlingingRhesus (806117) on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:12PM (#14960328)
          see my other post http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=180 799&cid=14959879 [slashdot.org] it already exits it is called Echo2 [nextapp.com] it is a open source Java web framework. AJAX is integrated seamlessly into the component model. It is the most comprehensive toolkit I have found. I have been researching them for my new project for several months now and Echo2 is leaps and bounds ahead of the other competing projects.
          • Niiicccce. I'm going to have to look into this one. The "next page" part in the email app means there might be a lot of room for improvement (Rico, for example, has a live data grid), but it looks like an otherwise excellent start! Thanks for the tip!
    • I agree with you. Its hard to believe the future of the web is going to be Javascript passing XML. Sure it makes the UI seem fast but at the cost complexity. Plus I have to believe there is a model that is better for performance, I mean XML is is too repetive all that meta data comes at a cost.

    • While I agree that JavaScript is not the ideal candidate for developing any system, much less a web app it is what we are limited to. Java Applets et. al. are DOA, unsupported or don't fit within the model of web application development. For better or worse those are the breaks.

      I differ with you on the presumption that AJAX is irrelevant, as recently as a few months ago I would have concurred with this notion and would have agreed that it was a new spin on some simple technologies. That was until I fou
    • For the record, most of what Google Maps does is NOT ajax. Setting image sources and dragging them around is just DHTML.
      • um... in case you haven't noticed, google is updating those images on the fly... which is a textbook definition of how to use ajax...
        • Is Google downloading the image data with XmlHttpRequest and parsing it using xml? No? Well, then, it's DHTML, not AJAX. Changing the source of an image has been around since the early 90s. It's sort of asynchronous, although the client code doesn't actually do any processing on the result so even using the term is debatable. Not everything interactive on a web page is AJAX, and this is a perfect example of something highly interactive that is NOT.
    • by pnatural (59329) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:40PM (#14960046)
      Ajax requires all communication be serialized using a Javascript callback scheme that requires extensible but ultimately limiting xml communication between client and server.

      False. The web server can return text, plan old xml (POX), or JSON or anything that can be encoded over HTTP.

      To get good performance, Ajax forces you to code a front-end application using JAVASCRIPT. Now I've coded some pretty complicated Javascript stuff, but it's just not the right language for writing full-featured applications. It's barely even object oriented, weak typed, etc. And debugging it is a disaster.

      False. You're mixing concepts here (performance and client scripting language). Further, EMCAScript isn't OO and shouldn't be: it's a prototype based language. And any developer tackling this problem in today's world should use one of the many freely available JS libs (Dojo, MochiKit, Prototype, etc). Hell, MochiKit has a built in debugger.

      If instead you decide to have the server make all the UI decisions for you ("put this text here, that box there"), that's fine except you'll see lag anytime you do anything. Imagine trying to update an entire column of data in Ajax Spreadsheet. The server has to send down exactly what to put in each cell and do all the computations for you before you see anything.

      Knock, knock, web server calling. HTML UI decisions start on the server and get modified locally by the client. This is the nature of HTML and always has been.

      Google Maps has this problem - I often see white boxes, unrefreshed boxes, etc. and I'm using the latest Firefox!

      Oh, lordie. You realize that Google maps doesn't use Ajax, but instead makes heavy use of IFRAMES? (last i checked, this was true). And you realize, of course, that your connection speed might be to blame?

      You've painted AJAX with a pretty broad and off-base brush. Better luck explaining it to the ignorant.
      • If I'm not mistaken, IFRAMES are used when a browser doesn't provide the XmlHttpRequest object (or MS equivalent).
      • plan old xml (POX)

        Is it just me or is that acronym a little too accurate. pox = Syphilis [wikipedia.org]
    • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@nospaM.yahoo.ca> on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:41PM (#14960054)
      Considering I wrote a book entitled Ajax Patterns and Best Practices the mistake made by many is the fact that Ajax is not about extending the current Web paradigm. Ajax when done properly includes REST, Web Services and a decoupled architectured. This means the client is not dependent on the server and vice versa. Granted the client makes Web Service calls, but the client does not know the technology used to implement the Web Service.

      What makes me laugh about many vendors in contrast to the community is that they simply don't get it. Microsoft and co think Ajax is a "style" of programming by extending and locking the client to the server. This is plain simply wrong, wrong, wrong!

      Now to address to your questions:

      1) First Ajax does not require XML, but relies on the Permutations pattern. The Permutations pattern is a REST style web service that says the content sent and received by the client and server depends on the needs of the client. That might be JavaScript, XML, bitmap images or even HTML.

      2) Coding a front end in JavaScript is not a problem. Coding everything with JavaScript is a problem. Just like coding everything with Java is a problem. Writing a good Ajax applications means creating a client that calls a server using Web Services.

      3) To address your problem you use the Infinite Data pattern that uses callbacks that sends data to the client as it received.

      Again, part of the problem is that many are considering Ajax as an extension of the current Web Paradigm. Ajax is not that. Ajax is a SOA client that makes Web Service calls. Granted I will give you that companies like Microsoft confuse the issue by creating stuff that completely breaks REST, and Ajax design concepts.

      If you want more information feel free to check out my site http://www.devspace.com/ [devspace.com] as I have some prototype implementations of the Ajax and REST patterns that I was talking about (inc source), and look at the Ajax QA. And if you have any further questions just send me an email and I will be more than happy to answer your questions.
      • Considering that Microsoft invented AJAX, I'd say that your rather presumptuous (and vapid) claims are pretty silly. More than that, OWA, the original 'AJAX' client, is also the example of the first truely REST-ful web service, up to using complex GET-based queries to specify parameters.

        But don't let the facts muddy a good story. This *is* /., after all.
        • Did you have a link to that, or at least somewhere to point me? I didn't know (and scarcely believe) that MS 'invented' AJAX.

          But don't let supporting evidence get in the way of fanboyism. This *is* /., after all.
    • Applets are embedded objects... AJAX is inline. Big difference. I can't degrade gradefully from Applets... either they work or they don't... AJAX let's me add user experience if it's supported and degrade back to a less nice but still functional user experience. Sure the current stuff available is being rolled out quickly and haphazardly without a fallback state being defined but this will not be the case for long. This is the same reasoning for why I prefer AJAX over Flash for interactive UI elements... th
    • BUT, will Ajax supplant the client app as the workhorse of productivity applications? Not a chance.

      You might be right, but I've spent the past 3 years migrating client applications to .NET and XmlHttp data-brokered solutions. Ajax was not a popular term when we started doing it. This is a company of 3,000 employees with many clients all over the state and all of them now have rapid web-based access to a variety of analytic tools, reports, and raw data.

      There are some very compelling reasons for suffer

    • Check out comments on DailyKos. Very well done AJAX app. It gets out of your way while still enforcing preview, etc...
    • You just listed out EXACTLY why someone would want to use a tool like Atlas.

      We don't complain about writing GUI applications because its too much work to manipulate every different pixel on the user's screen. We have tools and a technology stack that abstract all of that for us so that we can work with widgets.

      That is what Atlas is all about. It gives you the desired functionality of AJAX, without the pain normally required when dealing with the low level details (XML, extensive Javascript, etc).
    • [JavaScript is] just not the right language for writing full-featured applications. It's barely even object oriented, weak typed, etc. And debugging it is a disaster.

      Actually, EMCA Script is perhaps one of the most object-oriented languages in use today. Absolutely everything is an object and there are no primatives. And as for debugging, Venkma [mozilla.org] is probably one of the most powerful debugging environments I have ever used for any language or platform?

      As for your comment regarding Java Applets, i

  • AJAX is bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jjeffrey (558890) *
    I really dislike AJAX, for the following reasons:

    1: Does anyone know of any significant javascript code which works on two different browsers without having to have conditionals based on the user agent?

    2: Most AJAX applications break accessibility rules, which are law in many countries (including the UK, where I am).

    3: AJAX provides another attack vector on websites. Look at the myspace worm. I know that comes down to bad programming, but still it's another chance to miss something.

    4: A number of companies
    • by penguin-collective (932038) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:09PM (#14959807)
      All of those problems can be addressed by creating a good AJAX toolkit; a toolkit can fall back to plain HTML when Javascript isn't available, it can do the right per-browser customizations, etc.

      However, from an interaction point of view, AJAX is enormously useful and a big advance over plain HTML pages. It's unfortunate that the underlying technologies are so ugly (Javascript, XML, ...), but, again, with a good toolkit, you don't have to ever think about that.
    • Re:AJAX is bad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:14PM (#14959847) Homepage Journal
      1. You shouldn't be testing for a UA, but for object support.

      2. You can build accessibility into an AJAXified application, but it will take more work. I find that the people who care enough about accessibility on normal websites are the people who are also willing to put in the extra work making applications accessible.

      3. Another attack vector? Sure, but introducing any technology introduces new risks. That doesn't mean you should dismiss it entirely. Bad code is bad code - no matter whether it's AJAX or PHP or Ruby.

      4. This goes back to accessibility. If a client doesn't have Javascript at all, you need to account for that. If you're writing an app that absolutely requires Javascript, then you need to accept that some users won't be able to use the site.

      5. This is the crux of your argument, I think. Some applications are dependent upon Javascript for a good reason - they aren't normal websites. The example I use is of a university that has thirty or so platform and browser combinations to support. Deploying an internal desktop app is expensive, difficult to support, etc. But a web app can be brought up on all of the supported environments - which means you can build for those and ignore anything that's unsupported (like Lynx). We're talking about interfaces which replace a desktop app - but still need comparable functionality, speed, and interfaces.

      The web has always been a quickly changing landscape. AJAX is a feature on that landscape, not the future of it. Like anything else it has its valid uses and invalid uses, can be abused, and can be done poorly. But so far, none of this is a reason to dismiss it entirely.
    • Re:AJAX is bad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *
      1: Does anyone know of any significant javascript code which works on two different browsers without having to have conditionals based on the user agent?

      As someone else pointed out, you test the function or member to see if it exists. If not, you patch the browser on the fly. The only IE specific code I have is code to patch it for DOM Events and up-to-date String functions. This is possible because you can do something like this in Javascript:

      if(!String.prototype.slice)
      String.prototype.slice = fun

  • Mythology, lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tehshen (794722) <tehshen@gmail.com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @04:59PM (#14959724)
    In mythology, Atlas and the Titans revolted against the Olympians, lost, had his brothers betray him, and was punished to carry the world. Is this some sort of metaphor for the IE development cycle?
    • > In mythology, Atlas and the Titans revolted against the Olympians, lost, had his brothers betray him, and was punished to carry the world. Is this some sort of metaphor for the IE development cycle?

      Could be worse, what if they'd picked some other literary reference?

      *shrug*

      "Who is Bill Gates?"

    • Actually, he was punished to carry the Heavens [wikipedia.org] to keep them from shagging.
  • by YU Nicks NE Way (129084) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:02PM (#14959743)
    But this is the March CTP for Atlas, not the final release.
  • by hazem (472289) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:16PM (#14959862) Journal
    What is it with Microsoft and its penchant for product names that are virtually useless for doing searches?

    Access
    Word
    Windows
    Excel
    Publisher
    Sequel

    Contrast that with:
    linux
    mozilla
    firefox
    mysql
    php

    At least with these, you have a reasonable chance of finding what you're looking for without a ton of other non-related crap.
    • You're not supposed to search for support. You're supposed to buy support.
    • I think php usually returns a bunch of bogus results. Anything with url with .php usually shows up. I think the one you missed that is the most apparent is .net. Trying to find stuff on .Net is usually quite hard.
    • Um, I don't think Microsoft sells a product named Sequel. I think you're thinking of "SQL Server". Most people like to pronounce the "SQL" as "sequel". And other non-Microsoft technologies are problematic to search for: C, C++, shell, Mac, IP, Excite, log files.

      But you're right -- it does make it hard to search for many of the most popular Microsoft products. The sad thing is that Microsoft most likely chooses generic names on purpose. They want to take advantage of (embrace and extend) existing language. I
  • Atlas? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TellarHK (159748) <[tellarhk] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:22PM (#14959903) Homepage Journal
    *shrug*
  • Well, Here We Go (Score:3, Informative)

    by MikeyTheK (873329) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:24PM (#14959920)
    Well, the AJAX wars have started, and M$ maybe just got off the first shot. We'll see. With http://www.morfik.com/ [morfik.com]'s public beta just around the corner the RAD IDE AJAX tools are finally coming on scene. We'll see what people can do with these tools, and whether AJAX is REALLY as overrated as some are claiming. Personally I'll bet that once people can get their hands on tools that let them build web apps as easily as they can desktop apps (and unplug them, i.e. run them locally or over the 'net, as you can with Morfik) you'll see a huge increase in web applications.

    The number of AJAX tools that are on their way is staggering. http://www.tersus.com/ [tersus.com] is one designed for the absolute noob, and http://www.backbase.com/ [backbase.com] is also a potential option.
  • Standards Compliant (Score:2, Informative)

    by Landak (798221)
    Standards Compliant Hmn? [w3.org]

    Try the CSS one for a real laugh :).
  • by moochfish (822730) on Monday March 20, 2006 @05:50PM (#14960144)
    I'm not really a fan of MS, but I recognize they have a lot going for them. I'm a PHP developer so please don't assume I'm defending it because I like ASP. Really, I don't.

    I think a bunch of people commenting read the press release and made their judgements without actually investigating how incredible the technology is. There was even the flamebait who posted something about cross browser compatibility. Well, watch the freaking demo video before you go trolling. You can find their first of many such demos here:

    mms://wm.microsoft.com/ms/uifx/asp_net_atlas.wmv [wmmicrosof...etatlaswmv]

    Maybe I find it amazing because I'm not that used to ASP development, but I'm thoroughly impressed how far MS has come in making developing for their platform easy. The demo I pasted above shows him making a pretty standard data grid. That part is cool, at best, to anybody familiar with ASP, and flat out amazing to anybody who's never seen ASP sites being developed. About 2/3 into the video he busts out the new Atlas code (so fast forward to there). It was maybe 3 additional ASP tags to implement full asynchronous functionality plus one more to setup a "updating..." dialog. Suddenly, a page that required refreshes on any action could add, edit, and *sort* paginated data without any refreshes.

    And then he fires up the same code in Firefox and goes to show that it works exactly the same in both browsers. 3 ASP tags.

    I'm sorry, but how can you blindly bash that? Sure there's equivalent technology in the works out there (such as rails), but it doesn't make this any less amazing. If there was a development platform as complete as MS's offering but based on Python/PHP, people would be pissing their pants. To ASP developers, this will make creating AJAX functionality unbelievably easy.

    MS just scored major Hype 2.0 points today. But the hype isn't all unjustified. Again, go learn about this before you bash it. [asp.net]
    • ... incredible ... amazing ... thoroughly impressed ... cool ... flat out amazing ... amazing ... unbelievably ... major ...

      Lying astroturfer [wikipedia.org], fraudulently misrepresenting company propaganda as objective third party opinion.

      • First paragraph gives fake credentials to suck wary reader in. Check.
      • Rest of article in hype overdrive. Check.
      • Claims alternative points of view are troll/flamebait/bash. Check.
      • Article is a disorganised mishmash of "positive" points. Check.
      • Claims that making the equivalent of
      • If this sort of post bothers you, I can't imagine how you can deal with any of the comment forums on this site. The Apple Topics in particular are choked with "appleturf", as are any "free software" or EFF topics. The moderation system in general encourages and rewards "Party Line" posts so that's what you get.
  • I'm surprised the article summary made it through the lameness filter. Here's a metasummary:
    Microsoft Atlas at MIX 06; it's their AJAX API for ASP.NET 2.
    I don't think "O RLY?" has ever been a more appropriate comment.
  • ATLAS Homepage (Score:3, Informative)

    by HeyBob! (111243) on Monday March 20, 2006 @06:19PM (#14960375)

  • So now someone can displace Microsoft Office 12 / 2006 / Vista using Microsoft Ajax.

    I like it.

    MjM

  • The article doesn't say, but the official site seems to make it sound just like the March CTP (Community Technology Preview) has been released... ..In other words, not the final version, which makes this headline incorrect.
  • From the article: "Microsoft is highlighting its upcoming tool for AJAX-style development, code-named Atlas"

    AJAX "style development." I take this to mean Microsoft isn't following standards in an attempt to hijack yet another technology. When will they ever learn?
  • > "Certainly one thing is clear--even with Atlas, the browser's
    > capabilities simply don't match those of Windows itself," Lhotka
    > said. "The more you want your Web pages to act like Windows, the
    > more expensive it becomes. Atlas helps ease some of that cost and
    > pain, but my feeling is that ultimately Atlas is a bridge between
    > simple HTML and WPF [Windows Presentation Foundation], filling an
    > important niche."

    I've been in his shoes ... the PR people write the quote for you and ask, "i
  • Wrong Direction? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by localman (111171) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:24PM (#14960802) Homepage
    But isn't one of the coolest things about AJAX the fact that it's pretty much platform independent? Why would anyone want to tie it to a particular platform? Didn't Java already try that?

    Cheers.
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:36PM (#14960866)
    apparently, this would be a preliminary step in the right direction to "Fucking kill google" .. and anything not Microsoft Ajax (tm) http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/03/05 15250&from=rss [slashdot.org]
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar.gmail@com> on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:38PM (#14960876) Homepage Journal
    I code Javascript, no two web browsers seem to be able to use the same Javascript and you have to rewrite them for each browser. Then there are those who use web browsers without Javascript like Lynx, or people who disabled their Javascript for fear of Spyware/Adware infecting their system via their browser. Ajax uses Javascript. ASP.NET is supposed to have been designed to be able to run scripts at the web server without running scipts on the client, yet it fails to do this. My old employer tried to switch to ASP.NET when 1.0 was beta back in late 2001. They are still having problems getting ASP.NET working with different browsers that various clients of theirs use, that are not under their control.

    My solution was to use Java, instead of client-side scripting in Javascript and VBScript. Then any browser that supports Java can run a Java servlet and it can be programmed to be easy to use. Just make sure that their JRE version matches the one we use to develop the web applications for and everything should work out. I even worked out XML transfers to be used between the corporate web server and the client web server. We only need write one version of the Java application, instead of several versions of the Javascript support for each web page. The time we would have saved on production would have allowed us to do other things. But, nooooooooooooooooo, they went with ASP.NET because Microsoft promised them the moon, and now they are making posts to Microsoft's Newsgroups asking why ASP.NET is not working as Microsoft said it would. I am just sitting back and enjoying the fireworks and relaxing and being glad I am no longer one of those programmers being lead by Managers who have no idea how technology really works.
  • Java Competitor (Score:3, Informative)

    by coldtone (98189) on Monday March 20, 2006 @07:59PM (#14960984)
    If your using Java and want a good Ajax framework. Check out Icefaces [icesoft.com]

    It's currently in alpha release.

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