Sebastopol, CA--It may amuse some that Microsoft's Active Server Pages technology is now referred to as "classic ASP," given that this tool for creating dynamic, data-driven web pages is still the current choice of nearly two million web developers worldwide. But with the advent of ASP.NET, classic ASP will soon be considered antique. Methodically detailed in "ASP.NET in a Nutshell" (Duthie & MacDonald, O'Reilly, US $39.95), the new technology may have a lot in common with its predecessor, but ASP.NET is not an upgrade of the old. It's a quantum leap ahead. By taking advantage of the .NET Framework and Microsoft's new object-oriented languages, ASP.NET brings the same productivity to web applications that Visual Basic brought to Windows applications. The technology also gives developers entry into the exotic world of XML-based web services.
"ASP 3.0 was a strange compromise," says coauthor Matthew MacDonald. "It worked, but it was a far cry from elegant. ASP.NET is a remarkable shift: a new language and web application framework in one shot. I love ASP.NET, and wanted to be involved in creating a definitive work for the new platform."
As is the case with other titles in O'Reilly's "Nutshell" series, "ASP.NET in a Nutshell" is a technical reference for serious users to consult when working through everyday development tasks. MacDonald and coauthor G. Andrew Duthie emphasize that the book is for developers with classic ASP experience, or, lacking that, with at least some exposure to the .NET platform. Complete with a concise tutorial, two detailed reference sections and plenty of sample code, this 800-page volume goes beyond ASP.NET's published documentation by highlighting little-known details and using real-world examples to show how new features can be used in a working application.
"This reference is definitely more ambitious and larger in scope than any similar book," MacDonald says. "Developers can get up to speed quickly with the essentials, and then have a concentrated reference to refer back to."
As the book points out, the transition from ASP to ASP.NET is a real eye-opener. Classic ASP offers just one type of application, in which the web server uses script programming to generate a page with HTML code and then sends it to the client requesting it. ASP.NET provides an enhanced version of this application with Web Forms, a feature with the same rapid drag and drop convenience enjoyed by Visual Basic developers for years. ASP.NET also offers tools for developing web services, which promise to fulfill the long-anticipated dream of sharing data across applications and operating systems.
"ASP.NET in a Nutshell" carefully guides developers through this maze of new features (custom controls, data access, improved security, application deployment, and error handling among them) and offers information on migrating ASP applications to ASP.NET. MacDonald believes the book will be of particular interest to enterprise developers. "Judging from Microsoft's case studies, they believe ASP.NET is the best technology they have to offer for creating a distributed application," he notes. Beginning with an overview of the .NET Framework and the changes this platform brings--such as object-oriented programming and two new languages, Visual Basic .NET and C#--"ASP.NET in a Nutshell" distills this large and comparatively complicated subject into three main sections:
"We didn't rush the book out before the release of ASP.NET, so all the code has been tested and validated with ASP.NET version 1," Duthie notes. "Working on this book presented a great opportunity to capture the essence of this new technology and turn it into something useful for learning the concepts of ASP.NET. Readers will have a book that they can refer to, time after time, for day-to-day programming tasks."
Chapter 6, User Controls and Custom Server Controls, is available free online.
For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bios, and samples, click here.
For a cover graphic in jpeg format, go to: ftp.ora.com/pub/graphics/book_covers/hi-res/0596001169.jpg
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