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The Top 10 ASP Links @ Microsoft.com

by John Peterson

Introduction

I continually get asked questions like the following:

  • "Where you can I find the ASP documentation?"
  • "Where can I go to get the latest version of ADO?"
  • "Where can I get more information about ASP?"
  • "Where can I find out about all the VBScript commands?"

Well the short answer to all of these questions is that you can get the information from Microsoft's website. The problem is trying to figure out where it is and once you find it trying to make sure that you'll be able to find it again the next time you need it.

When I first started searching microsoft.com for information a couple of years ago, I used to dismiss it as a poorly designed site because I could never find what I was looking for. Well time has opened my eyes somewhat and I now realize that while putting thousands of documents on a web site is easy, organizing those documents into a structure that makes sense and allows users to find them easily is not. At times I still get frustrated, but nowadays (due in no small part to ASP 101) I'm more understanding of the problem and realize that it's almost always there somewhere... I just have to find it!

That's where this article comes into the picture. In my job, I spend a great deal of time online reading about ASP. As a result, I've run across some links on microsoft.com that are extremely useful to say the least. (Heck... I find it amazing that so many people get so far using ASP without knowing about these.) So in an effort to share some of the knowledge with those of you just starting out, here's what I consider to be the top 10 list of the most useful microsoft.com ASP-related links.

So Here They Are...

10 - Microsoft Security Homepage

I'm starting with a page that's barely related to ASP, but is nonetheless extremely important: Microsoft Security Homepage. Web sites aren't run in isolation. The whole point of most sites is getting information out to the public. Well, whenever you open your doors to give something to the public you need be careful that they don't follow you back in! This page is the key to help you keep that door locked.

Of particular interest on this site are the security bulletins (which announce newly discovered problems and link to the patches), the best practices documents (which outline the steps you should follow to secure your site), and the tools and checklists (which will help you actually implement these best practices).

9 - Microsoft Universal Data Access

The next link on our list is the Microsoft Universal Data Access page. This page will keep you up to date on what's going on with ADO, OLE DB, ODBC, and any other data access technologies you use. Most people use ASP to access some sort of data and you'd be surprised how many of them are using old versions of MDAC. Updating your data access components can not only give you a performance increase it can also fix some of the temperamental problems you often ran into in earlier versions.

8 - MSDN Online .NET Developer Center

With all the hype about the new ASP.NET, it seemed like I had to include this link to the MSDN Online .NET Developer Center. While it's not really a "Classic ASP" link, if you're developing ASP solutions today then it only makes good sense to stay up to date with what's going on with the next version. Another Microsoft link that's also of value in this regard (even though it's not technically on microsoft.com) is http://www.asp.net.

7 - Microsoft TechNet - Windows Web Services (IIS)

IIS is another supporting technology that people tend to take for granted when using ASP and you really shouldn't. Since ASP runs on IIS, knowing as much about it as possible can help greatly when you're working with ASP.

Microsoft TechNet - Windows Web Services (IIS) is probably the best place to start, but Microsoft TechNet - FAQs & Highlights for Internet Information Server 4.0, Web & Application Services (Win 2000), and Web Services (NT 4) are all useful links for IIS information.

6 - Microsoft Support Knowledge Base

Our next link is probably the most important link you can have at Microsoft. The Microsoft Support Knowledge Base should be your first stop when you have a problem with any Microsoft product. It's an invaluable resource for all their products and even ASP is no exception.

While you can select "Active Server Pages" from the drop down box, I've had better luck selecting "All Microsoft Products" and including the keyword "kbASP" (without quotes) in an "All Words" "Keyword Search" query. Use "kbASP" alone to return a list of all ASP related articles

5 - MSDN Online Web Workshop

I couldn't come up with a good description for our next link so I'll let it describe itself. From the home page:

The MSDN Online Web Workshop provides the latest information about Internet technologies, including reference material and in-depth articles on all aspects of Web site design and development.

Don't let the seemingly all-encompassing description fool you; there actually is a lot of good stuff on this site, as our next link will show...

4 - Web Workshop - Server Technologies Homepage - DEAD!

Note: While I was unable to find the new home page for this link, I've found some of the articles mentioned below so I've left this as #4 and added another #4 below.

After that last link I felt bad because while there is a ton of good information there, I figured you'd probably get lost and not find half of it. So for ASP specific stuff go to the Web Workshop - Server Technologies Homepage. About half a dozen links from the top you'll find an Active Server Pages link that will expand to reveal glorious treasures. Well maybe not, but there are a lot of good articles there.

Some things that I do recommend giving a quick once over if you haven't already are the Active Server Pages Tutorial, ASP Conventions, and Improving ASP Application Performance. While some of them are pretty dated, they still contain a lot of information that makes just as much sense now as it did the day they were published.

4 (New) - Active Server Pages (General)

Since I can't seem to find the new home of the old #4, here's another link you might find helpful: Active Server Pages (General) under Server Technologies. It's the closest thing to the old Server Technologies Homepage that I could find.

3 - 25+ ASP Tips to Improve Performance and Style

Okay so I'm stretching a lot of mileage out of the former Web Workshop, but 25+ ASP Tips to Improve Performance and Style is another article that is simply a must read for any ASP developer. I think the title says it all.

2 - Microsoft Scripting Technologies

ASP needs to be written in a language of some sort. Most people choose VBScript and often don't even know they've made a choice. The languages are so much a part of the process that a web site about the languages themselves would be extremely useful... that's probably why there is one: Microsoft Scripting Technologies.

Not only can you get scripting engine updates, you can read all the documentation online or even download and install it locally so you always have access to it.

1 - Active Server Pages Guide

And the number one link for ASP information from microsoft.com is... the ASP Documentation from MSDN Online Library.

Conveniently buried with a non-descript name, this is the source for information about ASP.

Conclusion

See there really is a lot of stuff out there. While it may be hard to find at times, once you find it, you'll find it's usually worth the search. I hope this has helped introduce you to some new and interesting information straight from the source!

Note: As we all know, links change. If any of the above don't work for you, please let me know and I'll look into fixing or replacing the offending link with the new URL or another page. Also, if you think you've got a better microsoft.com link that I should include, drop me a line as well.


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