What is ASP.NET?

By: Ram Babu  

ASP.NET is the platform that you use to create Web applications and Web services that run under IIS. ASP.NET is not the only way to create a Web application. Other technologies, notably the CGI, also enable you to create Web applications. What makes ASP.NET special is how tightly it is integrated with the Microsoft server, programming, data access, and security tools.

ASP.NET provides a high level of consistency across Web application development. In a way, it is similar to the level of consistency that Microsoft Office brought to desktop applications. ASP.NET is part of the .NET Framework and is made up of several different components.

  • Visual Studio .NET Web development tools.  These include visual tools for designing Web pages and application templates, project management, and deployment tools for Web applications.

  • The System.Web namespaces.  These are part of the .NET Framework, and include the programming classes that deal with Web-specific items such as HTTP requests and responses, browsers, and e-mail.

  • Server and HTML controls.  These are the user-interface components that you use to gather information from and provide responses to users.

In addition to the preceding components, ASP.NET also uses the following, more general programming components and Windows tools. These items aren' t part of ASP.NET. However, they are key to ASP.NET programming.

  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS).  As mentioned in the previous section, IIS hosts Web applications on the Windows server.

  • The Microsoft Visual Basic .NET, Microsoft Visual C#, and JScript programming languages.  These three languages have integrated support in Visual Studio .NET for creating Web applications.

  • The .NET Framework.  This is the complete set of Windows programming classes; they include the ASP.NET classes as well as classes for other programming tasks such as file access, data type conversion, array and string manipulation, and so on.

  • ADO.NET database classes and tools.  These components provide access to Microsoft SQL Server and ODBC databases. Data access is often a key component of Web applications.

  • Microsoft Application Center Test (ACT).  This Visual Studio .NET component provides an automated way to stress-test Web applications.

ASP.NET is the most complete platform for developing Web applications that run under IIS. However, it is important to remember that ASP.NET is not platform-independent. Because it is hosted under IIS, ASP.NET must run on Windows servers. To create Web applications that run on non-Windows/IIS servers, such as Linux/Apache, you must use other tools—generally CGI.

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