[If you read the last section let me apologize now and say that this
one is much more interesting and exciting!]
The one thing you can never have too much of as a programmer
(besides caffinee!) is speed!
Once you actually get your code working, the next most important
thing is almost always getting it to run faster. In ASP you could
only tweak your code so far until moving it to a component was the
only way to get that last little performance boost. Well you'll
be happy to know that this wasn't overlooked when Microsoft built
ASP.NET code is now compiled.
Let me say that again... ASP.NET code is now compiled! Don't
worry... it's not what you think. You don't have to create
makefiles and stop and restart things to re-register components.
None of it! It just works... you write code just like you always
have and yet you still get the benefits of early binding,
just-in-time compilation, native optimization, and caching! How
is this possible? Well I'm going to tell you!
On it's first request for the script, the runtime compiles the
code and keeps a cached copy of the compiled result. This cached
copy can then be used whenever there is another request for the
script. This results in greatly increased performance because
after this first request, the code can run from the much faster
The natural question is then "How does it know when I've made
changes?" Luckily Microsoft was on top of this one too. The
runtime watches the source file on the file system. When the
original source file changes, it automatically pulls the compiled
version out of the cache so that when the next request comes in
it'll be re-compiled. This means we get all the benefits of
compiled code and none of the headaches of having to compile it
ourselves. It doesn't get much better then that folks! Or does
I'm not sure where to put this... it's so important that it could
go here or in scalability or in development or even back in
infrastructure, but I guess this is as good a place as any so
let's get on with it. If you couldn't guess by the heading I'm
talking about caching.
One of the common things many developers have found the need to
build is some sort of cache in order to speed things up. Whether
it's the output of an asp page to an html file, a stock quote that
you get from a slow internet link, a recordset of the states and
their abbreviations for your shipping forms, or even a
database-driven dynamic menu that you've found isn't actually
all that dynamic, there are plenty of times when there's no
reason to spend the time to get and/or build these things for
every client request. Small amounts of data that don't
continuously change are actually very common in building web
sites, but just because they're not truly dynamic doesn't mean
you want to hard code them so where does that leave you? Until
now it lefts you building a caching system of some sort.
The basic caching scenario is to first identify the appropriate
things to cache. Then you need to place them in an application
variable in some form or another. Then your code has to be able
to understand this form. Then you've got to determine how long
to cache it for and write a routine to clear the cache. But
wait... if you clear the cache then the routine that uses it
has to know how to repopulate it... and around and around we go.
Well not anymore... a caching system has been built into ASP.NET and
since the whole system is more object-oriented then before it
makes sense that this caching system caches, you guessed it...
objects. So what you're caching looks like it did when you got
it when you actually go to use it. You can set up all sorts of
conditions on how long to cache things for. You can even link a
particular item to a file on the filesystem so that when the file
changes the associated item is flushed from the cache!
And that's not all... ASP.NET also does output caching. This is
where it takes the result of your ASP.NET script and saves a copy
so that when the next person requests it it doesn't ever even
have to run... the correct output is waiting to be sent. And
it's smart too. It caches based on the querystring so that a
page that is passed parameters will only return the cached
version if the parameters match the parameters used in the
Sometimes figuring out what to cache based on your site can be a
little tricky, but at least now actually caching it won't be.