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What Is ASP.NET
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What Do You Need to Run ASP.NET?

ASP.NET is supported on the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Server (SP 2 recommended)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003

To run ASP.NET, you need to install IIS on your computer (IIS is not installed by default). To obtain the ASP.NET runtime, you must install the .NET Framework on your machine. You can obtain the .NET Framework from the following sites:

Visual Studio and ASP.NET

One of the strengths of Microsoft is its very powerful development tool known as Visual Studio. Visual Studio has gone through a few evolutionary changes, with the recent Visual Studio 6.0, to the highly integrated Visual Studio .NET 2002/2003, to the soon-to-be-released Visual Studio 2005.

Using Visual Studio, Microsoft has made web development using ASP.NET a much more efficient and effective process. Contrast this to ASP, where a significant portion of developers uses a plain text editor to painstakingly write their code. In ASP.NET, Microsoft introduces the concept of a Web Form, much akin to a Windows Forms for Windows programming. Using Web Forms, an ASP.NET developer can develop web applications by dragging and dropping controls onto a design pane. Figure 1 shows the Visual Studio 2005 development tool in action. In the design pane, you can visually view the design of the Web Form. And more importantly, Microsoft has supplied a collection of common controls (known as Web Server Controls and HTML controls) to meet your needs for common tasks (such as the Calendar controls shown in Figure 1).

If the controls supplied by Microsoft do not meet your needs, you can always purchase third-party controls to do the job.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Editing a Web Form using Visual Studio 2005

ASP.NET Improvements

Another concept that Microsoft introduced in ASP.NET was the use of code behinds. Using code behinds, you can have a clean separation of the UI code and the application logic. Figure 2 shows the code-behind view of a Web Form. To switch back to the Design view, simply click on the other tab.

Figure 2
Figure 2. The code behinds of a Web Form

The use of code behinds is a vast improvement over the old "spaghetti" code model of ASP, where UI elements (HTML) and application logic are intertwined. This new model allows UI designer to work on the look and feel of the web pages and leave the business logic to the developers.

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