What’s a Web application? Basically, it’s a set of publicly accessible pages
bound to a well-known URL. No matter which direction Web-related technologies
take in the future, this basic fact will never change. The reason is the
underlying transport protocol, HTTP. If we were to change the underlying protocol,
we would end up with a different type of application. Period.
For all practical purposes, Web development began 10 years ago. Since then,
we’ve seen numerous technologies emerge, from short-lived ones such as
Microsoft ActiveX documents to watershed technologies such as Microsoft Active
Server Pages (ASP). The arrival of ASP in 1997 made it clear that real-world Web
development would be possible only through a rich and powerful server-side programming
Much as Microsoft Visual Basic did for Windows development, ASP provided
a set of server tools for building dynamic Web applications quickly and
effectively. More important, it pointed the way ahead. ASP wasn’t perfect (or,
more accurately, not yet perfected), so vendors improved the model by adding
object orientation and dynamic code compilation. Java Server Pages (JSP) introduced
key concepts such as compilation, components, tag customization, and a
first-class programming language. (This was a different company, different platform,
different programming paradigm, and different underlying technology—
but the underlying idea was the same.)
ASP.NET took five years to materialize—an entire geological era in Web
development terms—finally arriving in 2002. It was the next step in the evolutionary
process that started with ASP and found an excellent next version in JSP.
ASP.NET 2.0 is a major upgrade from there.
ASP.NET 2.0 features a new set of controls that simplify Web-based data
access and includes functionality that facilitates user interaction, code reuse,
and design-time development and even improves the aesthetic experience.