The Barnes & Noble Review
As developers get to know ASP.NET, they're coming to agree with Microsoft: this is a very big deal. Microsoft has systematically addressed nearly all of ASP's traditional limitations. Too slow? ASP.NET is far speedier: For one thing, all code is compiled. ASP mixed code and content? Now it's easy to separate the two. Too much code to write? ASP.NET writes much of it for you. For example, here's all the code needed to display a fully functional calendar: .
Of course, there are some little issues (ASP.NET breaks your existing ASP code, though you can run ASP and ASP.NET concurrently). And there's lots to learn. That's where Professional ASP.NET comes in. Alex Homer, Peter Sussman, and the Wrox gang have put together 1,400 pages of expert guidance and sample code.
They begin with an overview of the .NET framework and ASP.NET's role in it. You'll review the basics of writing ASP.NET pages, understand the new server processing architecture, and discover the powerful roles played by ASP.NET server and web form controls. ASP.NET's simplified approach "doesn't mean that the controls are simple, just simple to use. The onus of coding has moved from the web page developer to the control developer."
The authors systematically introduce list controls, data binding, database integration, collections, components, web services, and security. There's a full chapter on mobile controls, which can output HTML or WML depending upon the client device. You'll find extensive coverage of debugging and error handling, and a full chapter on migration and interoperability. (Some of this is easy. For instance, a new .aspx file extension tells your IIS server it's seeing ASP.NET pages, not ASP pages. Some of this is less easy.) The book concludes with a complete case study. By the time you've finished, you'll be as ready for ASP.NET as any mortal can be.
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: A Fast-Track Guide to ASP.NET
Microsoft's .NET technology has attracted a great deal of press since Beta 1 was first released to the
world. Since then, mailing lists, newsgroups, and web sites have sprung up containing a mixture of code
samples, applications, and articles of various forms. Even if you're not a programmer using existing ASP
technology, it's a good bet that you've at least heard of .NET, even if you aren't quite sure what it
involves. After all, there's so much information about .NET, that it's sometimes hard to filter out what
you need from what's available. With new languages, new designers, and new ways of programming,
you might wonder exactly what you need to write ASP.NET applications.
That's where this chapter comes in, because we are going to explain exactly what is required, and how
we go about using it. The aim is to get you up and running, able to write simple ASP.NET pages as
quickly as possible, and give you a solid grounding in the basics of the new framework. This will not
only benefit existing ASP programmers, but also people who haven't used ASP, including Visual Basic
programmers who need to write Web applications. ASP.NET makes the whole job much easier
whatever your skill set.
So, in particular we are going to be looking at:
Think of this chapter as a précis for the rest of the book. We start with the simple discussion of why ASP.NET has come about.
- Installing and testing ASP.NET
- The benefits of the new technology
- The basic differences between ASP and ASP.NET
- The new programming model
- The rich hierarchy of server controls
Evolution or Revolution?
As developers, we are all used to the evolutionary cycle of software product releases, where each new
release adds a few features and cures a bunch of bugs. Server–side Web technology has followed this
pattern, with products such as dbWeb and the IDC rapidly settling into the Active Server Pages we
know and love today. ASP 1.0 was released in 1996, and although it has gone through a further two
releases, it hasn't really changed that much – until now. Be prepared to throw away many of those
ingrained ASP programming habits, as you've an interesting ride ahead.
ASP.NET is where the revolution begins, because it is radically different from previous versions. Its first
appearance into the world was at the Wrox Conference in Washington D.C, back in 1999, where
impromptu applause showed how much the audience liked the product. Then in July 2000, ASP.NET
received its first public release at PDC, where around 6,000 developers were bombarded with nothing
but .NET. As a consequence, they spent most of the week looking like rabbits in headlights – rather
dazed and confused with all they had to take in. .NET isn't particularly difficult to understand, but
ASP.NET is very different from what we are used to.
That's really the whole crux of the matter. ASP.NET is just a part of the whole .NET framework, but to
use ASP.NET effectively you have to understand the underlying architecture. In the next chapter we'll
outline this new architecture and the benefits it brings, but for now we need to look at ASP.NET.
Getting Started with ASP.NET
The change to ASP.NET may seem daunting to some, but in the immortal words of Douglas Adams:
don't panic! Even though there's been a radical change, the basics of ASP.NET are easy to grasp,
especially if you've only ever programmed in Visual Basic before. Another important point to highlight
is that ASP.NET sits alongside ASP – it doesn't touch existing ASP applications at all. Therefore we
don't have to worry about anything that we've previously done suddenly stopping working.
ASP.NET is available in two flavors:
The Premium Version, contains the following:
- Standard redistributable. This is the version that is supplied with the .NET Framework SDK.
- Premium Version containing additional features.
ASP.NET is supported on Windows 2000 (Professional and Server versions) and Windows XP. It is not
supported for Windows NT or the Widows 9x platforms. You can install Visual Studio.NET on these
platforms and remotely use ASP.NET on the supported platforms. ASP.NET can be obtained from
- Output Caching
- Web Farm Session State
- Code Access Hosting (sandboxed security for ASP.NET)
- Support for 4 CPUs and above
http://www.gotdotnet.com/, and is
also part of the MSDN Subscription service.
Installation is extremely simple, consisting of a single executable. This installs the framework, including
ASP.NET, and includes options for the samples and documentation. During installation you may be
asked to update the Microsoft Windows Installer components, and if so, you should click the Yes button
to update them. This update is required for the .NET SDK installation.
You may also see the following dialog...
...This indicates the ADO 2.7 is not installed on your system. You can press the Ignore button to continue
with the setup process – ADO 2.7 isn't required for .NET, although it is recommended if you use any of
the data features that interoperate with ADO.
Once the Installation Wizard starts you'll have the usual license screen followed by the options screen...
...This gives you the option of installing the required components, tools and samples, as well as the SDK
samples. You should leave all options ticked to ensure that everything is installed. The distributable
version of the .NET framework is around 18Mb, and doesn't contain samples or documentation.
As part of the samples, a named instance of the Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) is installed containing
The Premium edition consists of an 18Mb download, and can be installed instead of
the redistributable version, or after the SDK has been installed. The installation
process and dialogs are similar to the SDK install.
Configuring the Samples
The installation routine creates a folder called Microsoft .NET Framework SDK containing an HTML
page titled Samples and QuickStart Tutorials. From this page you should follow the steps outlined:
Step 1: Install the .NET Framework Samples Database. Click this link and select Run this program
from its current location to run the samples database installation routine. If you receive a Security
Warning dialog you can select Yes to allow the program to run. At this point the program checks for
MSDE, installing it if it isn't already installed, and then installs the sample databases.
Step 2: Complete the installation. Click this link and select Run this program from its current
location to configure IIS and perform other installation routines. You may also receive another Security
Warning dialog when you run this program, and you can select Yes to allow the program to run.
At this point the samples are installed, and you have the option to Launch them. You can also launch
the samples by navigating to the Microsoft .NET Framework SDK menu (installed under the Programs)
and selecting Samples and QuickStart Tutorials.
Running the Samples
From the main QuickStart page you should select Start the ASP.NET QuickStart Tutorial, where you
will be presented with the following screen...