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Published: Sunday, November 08, 1998

WebDaily: Your daily source for Web Technology Tips and Tricks!


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Optimizing ASP Performance
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* This article discusses programming techniques for developing optimized Active Server Pages applications.

Last article I discussed connection pooling, and how it can be used to increase the efficiency with which your ASP applications connect to the databases you are using. And if you'll recall, a few articles ago I wrote about optimizing your ASP code for maintainability and reliability. This article I intend on discussing techniques which you can easily employ to optimize your ASP code's performance.

The first step to not only increasing your ASP performance, but to also making your ASP more user friendly, is to abandon the use of ALL Session variables (unless they are absolutely needed). Session variables are maintained by cookies on the client side; so if the web surfer has cookies turned off in his browser, the Session variables won't work! Also, Session variables have a lengthy lifetime. An instance of each session variable is instantiated when a new user hits the webserver. From the time this user makes his last request, there is still a good 20 minutes until the Session variable instance is deleted. (The length can be set by the Session.Timeout property or through the registry.)

So, if you are storing large numbers of complex objects in your Session variables, then you are asking for decreased performance. Some things, you may argue, MUST be put in the Session. If this is the case, at least try your hardest NOT to put large and complex objects in the Session, such as large, dynamic arrays, ADO Objects, or instances of business objects.

Another useful tip to increase your database performance is to use stored procedures as opposed to dynamically created queries on the ASP level. As I mentioned in a previoous article, the desired Web Application architecture consists of three tiers. The top tier is your ASP code, the middle tier are your business objects, and your bottom tier is the SQL Server backend. The desired approach consists of ASP calling business object methods, which in turn call stored procedures in the SQL database. This, as I explained earlier, is desired because maintenance is extraordinarily easier when you add levels of abstraction. Another plus to using SQL stored procedures is that once the procedure is executed once, an execution plan is cached in SQL's memory, and subsequent runs execute quicker.

Let's say you are writing a page which does nothing but inputs a row into your Employee table. It receives information from another page based on a form. Let's look at some code:

<%
'Establish connection
Dim Name, Salary, strSQL
Name = Request("txtName")
Salary = Request("Salary")

strSQL = "INSERT Employee (Name,Salary) VALUES('" & _
Name & "'," & Salary & ")"
Conn.Execute(strSQL)


Response.Redirect("SomePage.htm")
%>

We can use stored procedures instead to optimize this code. To create a stored procedure, you just need to go into SQL Server, expand the database you want to create a stored procedure. You'll see a "Stored Procedures" folder. Right click on it, and select "New Stored Procedure." Now, just type in your query and hit save!

Here is what the procedure will look like:

  CREATE PROCEDURE sp_InsertEmployee (@Name varchar(100), @Salary money)
  AS

    INSERT Employee (Name,Salary)
    VALUES(@Name,@Salary)

  GO

In your ASP, you can call the procedure in two ways. The first way is to do something like:

<%
'Make connection to database
Conn.Execute("sp_InsertEmployee '" & Request("Name") & _
"'," & Request("Salary"))

...
%>

The other way is to use the Parameters collection inherent in ADO. I will save this dicussion for a future WebDaily article.

Happy Programming!


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