Classic ASP to make web development more accessible

In an effort to make Web development more accessible on the Microsoft platform, Microsoft introduced Active Server Pages (ASP). The idea behind classic ASP is that a single ISAPI DLL named ASP.DLL interprets files with the extension ASP (for example, MYSITE.asp). ASP files include some HTML and perhaps some script code to be executed on the server. The ASP ISAPI DLL executes the script code as necessary and sends the HTML contained in the ASP file back to the client. The script code usually calls COM objects that do the dirty work (for example, looking up items in a database and tailoring the output based upon its findings) while the look and feel of the page is defined by the HTML in the ASP file.

While ASP opened the doors to a whole host of new programmers by catering to a much more widely used programming language (Visual Basic and VBScript), it wasn't the silver bullet. Among the downsides of classic ASP are:

  • Mixing of user interface code and programming logic

  • Performance issues due to IDispatch

  • Inconsistent means of managing state (session state and application state)

  • An ad-hoc security model

This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, but it highlights the most important issues with classic ASP. That's why ASP.NET exists.


Which brings us to ASP.NET 2.0. ASP.NET 2.0 builds upon ASP.NET 1.0 and 1.1 by providing a number of new features in addition to what already existed with ASP.NET 1.0. These features include

  • Master Pages and Skins

  • Declarative databinding

  • Provider pattern model

  • New cache features

  • Membership controls

  • Personalization controls

  • Support for Web Parts

  • Programmable configuration

  • Administration tools

  • New compilation model

All the features of ASP.NET 1.0/1.1 are still there. However, these new features make ASP.NET an even more compelling platform for creating Web sites. We'll visit all these features as we tour ASP.NET 2.0.