ASP/ Basics

ASP (Active Server Pages) is a server-side programming system introduced by Microsoft and considered to be the standard programming system for applications hosted on Windows servers.

ASP uses MSSQL, Microsoft's version of the SQL database language, and requires Netscape 4.x or above or IE 4.0, though it is said to work best with IE 4.0 and above.

ASP.NET was released by Microsoft in 2002. Rather than being a new version of ASP, it is viewed as a new technology, aimed at simplifying the transition from Windows application development to web development. It has improved run-time error handling, and allows developers to cache an entire page or just portions of it to improve performance.

Learning how to use ASP is easy – it is similar to JSP and CGI, though much simpler. ASP mostly uses VBScript, so it's not hard to pick up the language if you're already familiar with Visual Basic.

The Microsoft website offers free training videos, and the internet abounds with free tools for ASP websites, such as hit counters, blogs, shopping carts, guest books and forums.

Microsoft has also introduced ASP.NET AJAX, an extension for using AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML). AJAX technology lets JavaScript trade data with a web server without reloading the page, and allows web pages to request small pieces of information from the server rather than entire pages. The most recent version, ASP.NET AJAX 3.5, was released in 2007 as part of ASP.NET 3.5.

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