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Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Top 5 ASP-Related Events for 2002

By Scott Mitchell


Introduction
It's that time of year where everyone seems to be making "End of the Year" lists. Lists from Top 15 Stupid Web Mistakes of 2002 to Best and Worst Games of 2002 to Top 10 Computer Certifications can be found on computer-related Web sites. Of course the more mainstream media have their Top 10 blank of 2002 spots, such as ESPN's Top 10 Ugliest Moments of 2002, and ABCNews.com's Top 10 2002 Entertainment Moments.

- continued -

Not one who likes to be left out of things, I decided that the ASP community could have its own Tops list for 2002. Rather than doing a Top 10, though (so predictable), let's do a Top 5. Without further adieu, here is the Top 5 Events in the ASP Community for 2002! (If you have some events you'd like to see added to the list, let me know!)


5. Microsoft Releases the ASP.NET Forums
In August 2002, Rob Howard and the Microsoft ASP.NET Team released the ASP.NET Forums. These forums serve as a place where developers can come and ask questions relating to ASP.NET. Many Microsoft employees can be found on the forums answering questions.

In addition to creating an online forum Web site, Microsoft also released the complete source code for the ASP.NET Forums! Included with the source code is a installation file, so those who are not necessarily interested in the source can still add the forums to their own Web site in a matter of minutes. The ASP.NET Forums source code release follows the source code release of the IBuySpy Store and IBuySpy Portal applications developed in 2001.

4. Information Overload
With the release of ASP.NET, there has been a staggering amount of information - both free and for sale - that has been provided about ASP.NET. There have been a dizzying array of books, from encompass-all books like the near 1,500 page tome ASP.NET Unleashed to highly specialized books like Microsoft ASP.NET Web Matrix Starter Kit. In addition to the printed word, means for developers to have their ASP and ASP.NET questions answer have flourished. A number of ASP.NET Newsgroups have popped up and are quite busy. Microsoft started the ASP.NET Forums, which has quickly surpassed the 100,000 posts mark, and ASPMessageboard.com continues to receive hundreds of questions and answers each day, breaking the 500,000 posts mark earlier in the year.

A vast array of Web sites focusing on ASP.NET have sprung up as well over the past year, both independent sites and Microsoft-run sites. Some of the independent site newcomers worth checking out include ASPNextGen.com, DotNetBips, and ASPSmith.com. Microsoft has also offered two stellar sites: www.ASP.NET, which is home to the ASP.NET Forums, an impressive Control Gallery, host to the Web Matrix Project, and a number of other projects. In addition to www.ASP.NET, Microsoft runs a more general .NET Web site, GotDotNet.com.

There are so much ASP.NET information out there, that there are Web sites designed specifically to help categorize the information! Sites like 123Aspx.com, .NET 24-7, and 411asp.net help index the teaming hordes of information.

3. The ASP.NET Team Releases a Free ASP.NET Editor
2002 saw the release of a free ASP.NET editor, the ASP.NET Web Matrix Project. This editor boasted a graphical IDE with a designer for quick development. Its look and feel is similar to Visual Studio .NET, but without the $2,000+ price tag. The Web Matrix Project also has features not found in VS.NET, such as an FTP Connection tool, to allow developers to work remotely via FTP, a My Snippets toolbar, where one can drag and drop common pieces of source code, and a Code Builders concept that allows developers to run a wizard to aid in writing common pieces of source code. The Web Matrix Project also lacks some of the nice features of VS.NET, such as IntelliSense, debugging support, project files, and code-behind pages. (For more information on the Web Matrix Project and its features, be sure to read: The ASP.NET Web Matrix Project.)

Released along with the Web Matrix Project is a lightweight Web server, taking the place of Personal Web Server. This Web server, called Cassini, allows for Web pages to be served from Windows XP Home (as well as Windows 2000, Windows XP Pro, and Windows .NET Server).

One question on many developer's minds is "Will there be an update?" Currently the most recent version of the Web Matrix Project provided by Microsoft is a 0.5 build. However, Microsoft has assured developers that there will be an update soon... hopefully the update will add several new features, but I have a feeling that it will merely be an update that fixes some known bugs.

2. ASPFriends Calls It Quits
For those who are unaware, ASPFriends was a free public listserv run by Charles Carroll with over 70,000 signed up members. Charles has been an active member in the ASP community for years, founding LearnASP Charles Carroll and working as an ASP trainer. In November, Charles sent out a message to all of the listservs explaining that he was shutting down the lists because Microsoft, who had until this time been assisting Charles with the monthly cost of the listservs, wanted to sign a contract to secure the remaining funds.

This, naturally, exploded into a mess of soap-opera style drama. There was a discussion on Slashdot, and many, many, many emails on the ASPFriends listserv. Scott Guthrie posted a comment on the ASP.NET Forums explaining the entire situation rather nicely. In the end, it seemed as if Charles was going to stick it out and continue with ASPFriends. However, Charles ended up shutting the site down.

Fortunately, Steve Smith and Alex Lowe decided to pick up where Charles left off, starting their own set of listservs, ASPAdvice. If you're a fan of listservs over newgroups or online forums, consider signing up with the ASPAdvice listservs!

1. ASP.NET is Released
In January 2002 Microsoft officially released its .NET Framework version 1.0, which also marked the release of ASP.NET. Without a doubt, the release of ASP.NET has had the biggest impact on the ASP Microsoft ASP.NET community this year. Many who have fully embraced ASP.NET have been able to create their dynamic Web applications in a fraction of the time it used to take them. Many developers, quite comfortable with Visual Basic and classic ASP, have struggled with the steep learning curve of ASP.NET. Even those who still work with classic ASP full time have no doubt heard of ASP.NET.


Reader Write-Ins
Here are some of the moments readers thought should be added to this list... (if you have a recommendation for a Top ASP Event of 2002 that wasn't on the list, let me know!)
  • Visual Studio .NET is released


Conclusion
This wraps up the Top 5 list for 2002. Who knows what exciting events await us in 2003. Will version 2.0 of the .NET Framework be released? Will the Web Matrix Project be significantly updated? What new ASP.NET starter applications will the ASP.NET team be putting out? How will ASPAdvice.com fare? Guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Happy Programming!

  • By Scott Mitchell


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