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Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Commonly Asked ASP.NET Questions... Answered!

Please keep in mind...
Please do keep in mind that these are questions and answers asked in July 2000. At this time, ASP.NET was in the pre-beta stage. For the latest and greatest information on ASP.NET, check out the ASP.NET Article Index!

- continued -

With Microsoft's recent announcement of their .NET strategy and the next "version" of ASP, ASP.NET, developers worldwide have been scrambling to learn more. There are many common questions I've been asked (and have seen on the ASP.NET Forum) concerning ASP.NET. These questions, ranging from "When will ASP.NET be released," to "What platforms will ASP.NET run on," are all great questions whose answers are hard to find! This article answers many of those tough questions, and many of them answered by Scott Guthrie, an developer on the ASP.NET team in Microsoft!

Many of the answers reported by Scott Guthrie were obtained from either the ASP.NET Forum @ ASPMessageboard.com or the ASPNG ListServ @ ASPLists.com. If you have questions about ASP.NET I highly recommend that you ask them through both of these services... you are bound to get quick, direct answers to your questions! You can also check out our ASP.NET Article Index!

Question: ASP.NET is in private beta testing right now. When will it be public beta testing? When can I get my hands on ASP.NET and start writing my own ASP.NET pages?

Answer: "We are working hard now at finishing up a public beta that will be available for public download. ETA is still around 6 weeks (early September) though (there are a lot of pieces in it).

"We did hand out bits to the 7,000 people who attended last week's PDC conference, however, which is why some people have copies now -- and why you are starting to see discussions about it on discussion forums like this." -- Scott Guthrie, ASP.NET Forum @ ASPMessageboard.com

UPDATE!!! The .NET Runtime SDK is Available for all! You can download the bits at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/net/

Question: What platform(s) will ASP.NET run on?

Answer: "Once released, you will be able to run ASP.NET on either IIS5 or IIS4 (we will not require a new version of IIS to install it). Because we run side-by-side with ASP (meaning both can run concurrently on the same box -- so your existing apps won't break at all), there shouldn't be any real adoption blockers to installing it.

"You can use VS6 to edit ASP.NET Applications. Or you can use notepad. Or you can use VS7 (which has WYSIWYG Designers and Debuggers for VB, C# and C++ that target ASP.NET)." -- Scott Guthrie, ASPNG ListServ @ ASPLists.com

Question: What languages will developers be able to use to create ASP.NET pages?

Answer: "Note that ASP.NET -- like ASP -- still defaults to "VB" as your language unless you specify another one. ... ASP.NET now allows you to use any language you want to program pages/services/components.

"We will have three languages supported out of the box -- VB, C# and JScript. We will also have approximately 19 other languages ready in the next month or two that will be supported by other companies. These languages include: Cobol, Perl, Python, Eiffel, SmallTalk, Lisp, Scheme, Objective Camel, etc.

"From a development standpoint, it really makes sense to pick a language that you feel most comfortable with -- and then really become a master at programming with it. The great thing is that we now have a common runtime/debugging environment that lets you consume any .NET Framework API from it (EventLogs, Perf Counters, Data Access, etc). So the language you choose is really a "lifestyle" choice -- whatever you feel most comfortable and productive with." -- Scott Guthrie, ASPNG ListServ @ ASPLists.com

Question: Will a Windows 9X version be available for ASP.NET?

Answer: "Our current plan is to support a "personal tier" version of ASP.NET that runs on Win9x (including Windows 98 as well as Windows ME). This isn't really a web server though -- but rather a local development environment that will let you build apps that only your local machine can use.

"Although you will be able to use ASP.NET on Win9x, I *would* recommend upgrading to Win2x at some point (note that ASP.NET works great on Win2k professional -- you don't need a server). It will be more robust than Win9x -- and will support the full version of the product." -- Scott Guthrie, ASPNG ListServ @ ASPLists.com

Question: Will there be any tools to port ASP applications to ASP.NET applications?

Answer: "Our goal will be to have porting utilities available to help identify/update code in existing applications that needs to be modified in order to work with ASP.NET.

"... ASP.NET will run side-by-side with existing ASP. As such, you will be able to incrementally move your apps forward at whatever time schedule you like. This -- combined with the porting utilities -- will hopefully make upgrading a non-painful process." -- Scott Guthrie, ASP.NET Forum @ ASPMessageboard.com

Question: How will ASP.NET handle session management?

Answer: "ASP.NET does not rely on SQL Server or LDAP for session management. Basically we provide two new additional features:

1.) Cookieless Session: This is where we "munge" the sessionid into URLs as opposed to client-side cookies to keep track of SessionIDs (enabling you to now use session state even with browsers that have cookie support disabled). We automatically do the munging for you (no code changes required) to make this happen for both static and dynamic content (so you can link off to a static html page which then in turn links off to another dynamic page -- and the session is maintained).

2.) External Session State Support. This is where we store session values into an external state store instead of the ASP.NET worker process. This guaretees that state is stored accross worker process restarts (providing great reliability) as well as accross multiple machines (providing built-in web farm support). We ship support for two session stores out of the box: 1) the "ASP.NET state store" which is a dedicated NT Service that can run on any box -- and which ships with the ASP.NET bits. 2) support for storing session data directly into SQL Server. This later option is more scalable -- but does require you to buy SQL Server in order to make it work.

"Note that the above two state options are completely orthoganal from each other -- ie: you can use them together or separately. Also, our external state store support is pluggable -- meaning that we expect other third parties (as well as people like MS Commerce Server) to plug in their own store support into the model.

"With regard to performance, we are *much* faster than than existing pre-ASP.NET state solutions when doing out of proc state. We are leveraging ASP.NET's new MTA based thread pool to do async read/write operations that enable us to avoid blocking worker threads when retrieving and updating the state (instead using iocompletions to reuse threads). This should improve system throughput significantly and was not possible before with ASP (since it used an STA thread pool and as such couldn't do async operations)." -- Scott Guthrie, ASPNG ListServ @ ASPLists.com

Thanks to Scott Guthrie for giving his permission to quote him on 4GuysFromRolla.com! Again, if you have questions regarding ASP.NET, you can find great answers from Scott Guthrie and other ASP.NET pioneers at both the ASP.NET Forum @ ASPMessageboard.com and the ASPNG ListServ @ ASPLists.com! Also don't forget to check out our ASP.NET Article Index!

Happy Programming!

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