||ASP.NET, short for Active Server Pages.NET, is Microsoft's .NET-version of ASP. (Understanding what .NET is and its implications is important for understanding ASP.NET. A good overview of .NET can be found here; for general information about .NET, be sure to check out http://www.microsoft.com/net/; for developer-related information on ASP.NET, check out http://msdn.microsoft.com/net/).|
To help understand .NET, it is important to look at what, exactly, .NET is designed to accomplish. While there are a number of goals for .NET, the most important ones for those concerned with ASP.NET are:
-- Building a layer of abstraction between the programming language and the operating system. In the past, developers had the Win32 API; .NET introduces the .NET Framework classes, a collection of hundreds of classes that replace the Win32 API. The .NET Framework classes also define each available data type. Therefore, an integer used in VB.NET is identical in precision, size, makeup, etc. to an integer used in C# (another .NET programming language). Additionally, .NET programming languages do not compile into machine-language; rather, they compile into an intermediate language, Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL). When the program is run, this Intermediate Language is parsed by the Common Language Runtime (CLR), another part of .NET, which translates MSIL into commands the OS understands. This is, obviously, a lot to digest. For a more detailed discussion on this topic I highly recommend that you check out: An Examination of .NET and How and Where ASP.NET Fits In.
-- The aim of making computer applications truly distributed. That is, to allow various parts of a program to reside on different computers.
With those goals in mind, it is hopefully clear why a new version of ASP was needed. This new version, ASP.NET, utilizes the .NET Framework classes, the .NET programming languages (VB.NET, C#, JScript.NET, etc.), the CLR, and the other facets of .NET.
To learn more about ASP.NET, be sure to check out http://www.ASP.NET, or view this FAQ. To learn what about the system requirements for ASP.NET, be sure to check out this FAQ.