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As the World Wide Web continues its meteoric growth, websites have matured from simple collections of static HTML pages to data-driven dynamic web applications. For example, websites such as eBay or Amazon.com are much more than a collection of HTML pagesthey are complex applications that happen to be accessed through the Internet. Although many competing technologies exist for building data-driven websites, this book shows how to use the latest version of Microsoft's popular ASP.NET technology for creating web applications.
ASP.NET web applications are composed of individual ASP.NET web pages. As we will see in numerous examples throughout this book, these ASP.NET pages can display HTML, collect user input, and interact with databases. ASP.NET pages contain a mix of both HTML and source code. It is the source code of an ASP.NET page that allows for the more advanced features, such as accessing data from a database, or sending an email. The source code of an ASP.NET web page can be written in any one of a number of programming languages. For this book we will be using Microsoft's Visual Basic programming language. Don't worry if you've never programmed in Visual Basic, or even if you have never programmed at all. Starting with Hour 5, "Understanding Visual Basic's Variables and Operators," we spend three hours examining programming language concepts and the Visual Basic syntax.
To ease ASP.NET web page development, Microsoft provides a free development editor, Visual Web Developer, which is included in this book's accompanying CD. Visual Web Developer simplifies creating both the HTML and source codeportions of ASP.NET pages. The HTML for an ASP.NET web page can be quickly created by using the Designer, which is a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) graphical editor. With the Designer, you can drag and drop various HTML elements onto an ASP.NET web page, moving them around with a few clicks of the mouse. Likewise, Visual Web Developer offers tools and shortcuts that help with creating an ASP.NET page's code.Audience and Organization
This book is geared for developers new to ASP.NET, whether or not you've had past experience with HTML or programming languages. By the end of this book you'll be able to create and deploy your own dynamic, data-driven web applications using ASP.NET.
This book's 24 hours are divided into four parts. Part I introduces you to ASP.NET, HTML, Visual Web Developer, and Visual Basic. Hour 1, "Getting Started with ASP.NET 3.5," begins with an overview of ASP.NET and then walks you through installing the .NET Framework, Visual Web Developer, and other necessary components. Hour 3, "Using Visual Web Developer," showcases Visual Web Developer, which is the powerful development editor you'll be using throughout this book to create ASP.NET web pages. Hours 5, 6, and 7 examine the syntax and semantics of the Visual Basic programming language.
ASP.NET offers a variety of user interface elements for collecting user input, including text boxes, check boxes, drop-down lists, and radio buttons. In Part II you will see how to collect and process user input. Hour 10, "Using Text Boxes to Collect Input," examines using single-line, multi-line, and password text boxes, while Hour 11, "Collecting Input Using Drop-Down Lists, Radio Buttons, and Check Boxes," examines alternative user input controls.
Part III shows how easy it is to build data-driven websites with ASP.NET. Starting in Hour 13, "An Introduction to Databases," we begin our look at building websites that interact with databases. Typically, data-driven websites enable visitors to view, update, delete, and insert data into the database from an ASP.NET page. In Hour 15, "Displaying Data with the Data Web Controls," you will learn how to display database data in a web page. Hour 16, "Deleting, Inserting, and Editing Data," examines how to edit, insert, and delete data.
Part IV highlights tools provided by ASP.NET and Visual Web Developer that help with building professional, easy-to-use websites. In Hour 20, "Defining a Site Map and Providing Site Navigation," you'll see how to define a website's navigational structure and display menus, treeviews, and breadcrumbs. Hour 22, "Using Master Pages to Provide Sitewide Page Templates," examines master pages, which enable web designers to create a web page template that can be applied to all pages across the site.Conventions Used in This Book
This book uses several design elements and conventions to help you prioritize and reference the information it contains:
Note - By the Way boxes provide useful sidebar information that you can read immediately or circle back to without losing the flow of the topic at hand.
Tip - Did You Know? boxes highlight information that can make your Visual Basic programming more effective.
Caution - Watch Out! boxes focus your attention on problems or side effects that can occur in specific situations.
New terms appear in a semibold typeface for emphasis.
In addition, this book uses various typefaces to help you distinguish code from regular English. Code is presented in a monospace font. Placeholderswords or characters that represent the real words or characters you would type in codeappear in italic monospace. When you are asked to type or enter text, that text appears in bold monospace. Menu options are separated by a comma. For example, when you should open the File menu and choose the New Project menu option, the text says "Select File, New Project."
Some code statements presented in this book are too long to appear on a single line. In these cases, a line-continuation character is used to indicate that the following line is a continuation of the current statement. Furthermore, some code listings include line numbers. These numbers are used to refer to specific lines of code in the text and are not part of the code syntax.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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