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Developing Web Applications with ASP+

  • October 17, 2000
  • By Richard Leinecker
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I've recently returned from the 2000 Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference, and am really excited. The technology that Microsoft has developed to allow Web developers to create richer and more robust applications in less time than ever, is going to powerfully impact Internet applications in the future. The technology I'm referring to is the next generation Active Server Pages (ASP), now known as ASP+.

How does ASP+ make your job easier and allow you to create better applications? In short, ASP+ gives you some nice tools that make development easier and more powerful. They include compilation, additional language support, Web Forms, and Server Controls.

In this article, I'll briefly talk about what I feel are the high points of the ASP+ technology. In later articles, I'll drill down to the details and give you what you need to use the technology in your applications.

ASP+ Pages are Compiled

ASP+ files are still the easy-to-edit text files that they always have been. You can use Visual Interdev or Visual Studio 7 to manage ASP+ projects. But of course, you can also use everyone's favorite editor: Notepad.

ASP+ creates a ghost copy of the source file that's compiled. The compiled code executes much faster than the original ASP interpreted .asp files. And any time you make a change to the ASP+ source files, Internet Information Server (IIS) recompiles it when it gets another request for the changed file. This type of on-demand compilation is known as Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation.

Implementing JIT for ASP+ is a two edged sword. Yes, the compiled code is faster. But don't wait until you demo an application for your boss or a client to allow it to compile. That's because the application will slow down very noticeably the first time it runs while the updated source files compile.

By the way, the new file extension for ASP+ source files is .aspx. And the new name for the Global.asa file is Global.asax.

Additional Language Support

My background is Visual C++. For this reason, I spent more than my fair share of time learning VBScript for ASP programming. ASP+ adds a new object-oriented language named C#. It's similar to Visual C++ in a lot of ways, and also shares some similarities with Java. As a matter of fact, I feel that it's closer to Java than Visual C++.

C# has an added advantage in that its design includes features that easily allow developers to create and use COM+ components. For more information, check put the C# articles on www.sourceDNA.com.

Web Forms Offer Easy Control

ASP+ Web Forms Page offer a programming model that can be used on the server to dynamically generate web pages. Intended as a logical evolution of ASP (ASP+ provides syntax compatibility with existing pages), the ASP+ Web Forms has been specifically designed to address a number of key deficiencies with the previous model. In particular:
  • The ability to create and use reusable UI controls that can encapsulate common functionality and reduce the code a page developer has to write.
  • The ability for developers to cleanly structure their page logic in an orderly -- non-"spaghetti code" - fashion.
  • The ability for development/authoring tools to provide strong WYSIWYG design support for pages (existing ASP code today is opaque to a tool).

ASP+ Pages provides syntax compatibility with existing ASP Pages. This includes support for <% %> code render blocks that can be intermixed with HTML content within a .aspx file. These code blocks execute in a top-down manner at page render time.





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