Does anyone have experience of the change to ASP.NET?
January 14, 2005 6:04 AM   Subscribe

I have to write a site using ASP. Now the people I'm writing it for are pushing for ASP.NET

At the best of times, I'd be nervous about handing large amounts of HTML generation to the people who gave us Homeshite, but all the ASP.NET demos I can find are awful. Anyone got experience of the change?
posted by monkey closet to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I don't understand the question and I don't understand the FUD.

the people I'm writing it for are pushing for ASP.NET

There really isn't a "ASP.NET". Do they want VB.NET or C#? We moved from "classic" ASP to C# a couple of years ago and it's a welcome change. The best part: it's not VB Script.

all the ASP.NET demos I can find are awful

Where are you looking? I'm not a big fan of MS, but the one place you can't complain about them is language documentation and support. If you can't find it in MSDN or the docs in Visual Studio.Net, you're not looking hard enough. Or at all.
posted by yerfatma at 6:30 AM on January 14, 2005

Don't fear change Monkey Closet.

I haven't heard too much criticism about .NET even from friends who are rabidly anti-microsoft. We're going through the transition from ASP to .NET at the moment and so far so good. Watch your licence costs though...suddenly everything gets a lot more expensive. Prepare for a lot more time designing than codeing and you'd better have some sort of version control in place (we're using Source Safe which is frankly horrible). Make sure whoever is pushing for this realises that this change in the development infrastructure required means that the way that requests are handled will also have to change. Ususally for the slower. If they have a culture of "I-know-it's-5.30-on-aFriday-but-could-you-just..." then they're in for a shock.
posted by john-paul at 6:35 AM on January 14, 2005

Response by poster: 'Classic' ASP doesn't have to be VBscript either...

I'm not too worried about the language aspect - it's not the work building the pages, it's the results.

The bits that concern me are the modules - webforms, datagrid and the like. It's not a lack of documentation or support, it's that the results seem (looking at the working examples on some of the many development sites) to be uniformly nasty and play havoc with navigation through my browser history by reloading pages unnecessarily.
posted by monkey closet at 6:41 AM on January 14, 2005

reloading pages unnecessarily

That's the View State you're seeing. It's an attempt to maintain state in a stateless environment. It's the huge chunk of crap in a hidden input at the top of the page.
posted by yerfatma at 7:21 AM on January 14, 2005

You might check out "Essential ASP.NET With Examples in C#" by Fritz Onion. It's a good intro book.

Yes, if you just drop a datagrid on a page, it looks crappy. Play with stylesheets and set the row and alt-row classes.

There really isn't a "ASP.NET".

I respectfully disagree with you on that point. It's not a language, but it isn't just a VB.NET or C#.

On preview:

More people misunderstand View State than I can shake a stick at. The page reloading has more to do with server-side controls (i.e. you have a button marked as runt=server and so it has to make a round-trip to the server to run its code). View state can be completely turned off, and it will still need to make round-trips for server-side controls.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 7:28 AM on January 14, 2005

Response by poster: I, of course, meant Frontpage in the original post. Homesite is nothing to do with MS and tends not to butcher HTML

It's been a long day.
posted by monkey closet at 7:58 AM on January 14, 2005

There's always the System.Web.UI.HtmlControls namespace.
posted by AmaAyeRrsOonN at 7:59 AM on January 14, 2005

The bits that concern me are the modules - webforms, datagrid and the like.

Whoa there.

* These are tools (as is the entire .NET framework). It's what you do with them that matters. And you don't even have to use the Web Forms components at all, if you don't like them; just write your own code to drop data into placeholders in your HTML (like the old ASP way). Or write your own components (kind of like #includes, but data-aware).

* It's possible to deliver entirely standards compliant output and have complete control over your site design and markup. Spend some time in the documentation and (importantly) studying the client-side output vs. what you tell the IDE. You want to get to the point where you spend a lot more time in the code-behind pages than the design-view.

* As said above. It's not the weakly typed, inconsistent, unintuitive, legacy dependant hack that was previous ASP. ASP.NET has a sensible object model and can be implemented using grown-up OO languages.

* Whatever anyone's position in the platform wars, Microsoft sure know how to make an IDE. VisualStudio.NET blows away anything I've ever used (Borland, Sun, VB6.0, Eclipse tools), for client-app and web development usability, flexibility, and (vvvvvvvery important) documentation. They all suck, but MS sucks a whole lot less.

* Once you learn it, data handling is a breeze, server-side.

* Don't rush in. It is an entirely different mental model from ASP3.0 or previous and there are gotchas for the unprepared. Especially if you've not done much Object Oriented Programming previously. Do your homework to get the most from it and avoid frustration. It pays off.
posted by normy at 8:10 AM on January 14, 2005

Oh, yeah, and if you really can't be doing with all that, just make your site using the old-style ASP, anyhow. VS.NET and ASP.NET are backward compatible and will run the code fine. Or employ MS's conversion tool when you're done.
posted by normy at 8:17 AM on January 14, 2005

The original poster didn't really specify what kind of site it is or how it is architected. I work on enterprise-level applications with lots of back-end and middle-tier functionality in the .NET Framework every day, and in that environment, I am all for ASP.NET, it is vastly superior to ASP Classic in terms of being a "real" programming framework (no flames from anti-MSofties here please).

If you're building a web application, I'd say go for it, but keep in mind that it's not very welcoming to beginners who don't have a lot of programming experience. If you're just building a web site, which maybe needs a small amount of dynamic functionality or data access, I think ASP.NET is overkill for that and your clients don't really know what they want except that they read it in a magazine somewhere.

Tutorial sites you'll want to look at:
Microsoft official ASP.NET site
GotDotNet Framework Community
.NET 247

On preview, what normy said.
posted by matildaben at 8:51 AM on January 14, 2005

I've heard many good things about .NET and it seems like they really have something there.

But let's be clear -- almost anything will win compared to ASP Classic. Saying .NET framework is better than the old ASP approach would probably be the case even if .NET wasn't so good.
posted by jragon at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2005

What jragon said. I actually learned ASP.Net (and C#) first, and then had to debug a legacy ASP site, and I could not believe some of the hoops that had to be jumped through with ASP classic.
posted by falconred at 9:34 AM on January 14, 2005

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