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An Overview of ASP.NET

An Overview of ASP.NET

by John Peterson
Webmaster's Note: This was written a long time ago (in an office far, far away) when ASP.NET was first announced and was called being ASP+. It was slightly updated when the name change occurred, but it is still somewhat dated. We're leaving it up since it's still a decent basic overview, but please realize there may be factual inaccuracies due to changes that may have occurred during the development of ASP.NET.


Well by now many of you have probably heard, or at least caught wind of the fact, that the next version of ASP is not going to be ASP 4.0. It is instead going to be called ASP.NET, and what a difference that little change makes. I've seen the future and it's called ASP.NET! (In the past, the future was called ASP+, but in the present the future's ASP.NET... got it?)


Now don't get too excited. Microsoft just made the official announcement at the PDC in Orlando and is still quite a ways from actually releasing it, but from what I've seen, it'll be well worth the wait.

First off, let me stress that this is not simply a new version of ASP with a couple new features and some bug fixes like ASP 3.0 was when you compared it to ASP 2.0. This is a whole new system built from the ground up that takes the strong points of ASP and tries to expand on them, but at the same time fixes many of the shortcomings of the existing ASP implementation.

Since there's so much to cover, I'm going to break it down into several sections and look at the changes from each point of view. In this way I hope to try and give you the best overall view of the new technology. I'll start by discussing the new infrastructure upon which ASP.NET sits since it provides the context for many of the other changes. I'll then cover the features and changes that offer increased performance, greater scalability, quicker and easier development, easier management, the new languages, and finally web services.

With all the new features and improvements in ASP.NET, there's little doubt that you'll want to upgrade and begin writing your new code in ASP.NET as soon as possible. However, there is one catch... much of your existing code probably won't run under the new system.

To deal with this Microsoft has designed ASP.NET to be able to run side by side with previous versions of ASP. Because of this we've got a new file extension (.aspx) but it'll make upgrading a lot less painful and make our lives a lot easier.

The main theme throughout all the new stuff in ASP.NET is that the system now does a lot of grunt work for you. If you don't like the way it does it everything is totally modular so you can do it yourself or override the way it was done. On the other hand, if you do want to use it, a lot more of the basic plumbing is already done. This allows you to focus on developing your solution and not on the building the basics.

Getting ASP.NET

The .NET Framework SDK Beta 2 is Available!

For all of you who have emailed asking when you can get ASP.NET... the answer is now! Please be aware that this a is still a beta release and while we've been assured it is feature complete and very stable... it's still not released software so putting it on your mission critical servers might not be the best thing to do!

You might also want to check out the MSDN Online .NET Information

Related Links

ASP.NET Sample Code:
Form Handling and Validation
Variable Types

Related Sites:
ASP.NET stuff from AspFree
ASP.NET articles on AspToday
ASP.NET stuff from
Wrox has the first book on ASP.NET

Microsoft Links:
IBuySpy - Microsoft's sample ASP.NET site
Microsoft Visual Studio - Next Generation
Microsoft .NET on MSDN

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