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Web Developers Need To Prepare for .NET

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Craig Utley prepares Web developers for Microsoft's ASP.NET technology.
Craig Utley is the author of A Programmer's Introduction to Visual Basic.NET (Sams, June 2001, 067232203X).
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If you were building Web applications with Visual InterDev (VI), you might be wondering what you will do now that VI is no longer a product. The good news is that the functionality of VI has been integrated into Visual Studio.NET. Now, any .NET language can be used to create Web apps, using Microsoft's ASP.NET technology.

Perhaps the biggest change from ASP to ASP.NET is that you are no longer coding with a scripting language, such as VBScript or Jscript. Now, you will be coding in full VB.NET, C#, or any other .NET language. This gives you several key benefits:

  • First, you will have truly compiled code instead of interpreted script.

  • Second, your code will have all the benefits of the Common Language Runtime, such as garbage collection and security.

  • Third, you have the full language behind you, and not some subset as you had in VBScript and JavaScript.

ASP.NET also separates the UI code from the business logic code. In ASP, you intermixed HTML and your script code, resulting in traditional spaghetti code. In ASP.NET, your code lives in compiled components, while your UI code exists in separate files containing only the UI. This will make development simpler and more logical.

With VS.NET, Microsoft also introduces a series of server components, which are controls that run on the web server. They allow you write your web applications like you do a standard Windows application; you write code in event handlers, modify properties, and call methods. These components are smart enough to detect the browser and send code to the client as DHTML- or keep it on the server, depending on the browser's capabilities.

Finally, VS.NET makes it easy to create Web services. If you have been using the SOAP toolkit with VB6, you are familiar with the concept of Web services. They are COM components you create with VB, and then make available as services over the web. Any application can call the methods of the class using standard HTTP by passing an XML string. Any result from the component is returned as an XML stream. This use of XML means that any client application can use the component, even if it is on a non-Windows operating system.

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