The time that I spent working at Microsoft was an unexpectedly transforming experience. The first half
of my career regularly put me and the companies I worked with in competition with Microsoft, and I was
often surrounded by anti-Microsoft stories and propaganda. However, when I heard about .NET, I
decided I wanted to know more and that the best way to do that was to learn at the source.
As I got into the technology and the company, what I found was more than a little surprising. The
.NET Framework, the C# language, ASP.NET, and SQL Server are sophisticated and technically beautiful
achievements. After working with Java for several years, which also has a definite elegance, it was
refreshing and empowering to use a well–integrated platform, where everything (mostly) worked
together seamlessly. At a technical level, I found that I usually agreed with the decisions and tradeoffs
the platform developers made, and that the resulting system helped to substantially improve my
productivity as a developer, as well as the quality of the resulting software. I also found the Microsoft
engineering teams to be wonderfully bright, creative, and—perhaps most surprising of all to me as a
former outsider—sincerely interested in solving customer problems.
My enthusiasm for the technology helped carry me into a customer–facing position as a solutions
architect at the Microsoft Technology Center in Silicon Valley. Being exposed in–depth to customer
issues was another eye–opening experience. First, I could see first–hand the remarkably positive impact
of Microsoft technologies on many people and companies. Second, I could also see the intense
frustration and poor results that some people were having. This book is, in part, a response to some of
My perspective is that ASP.NET and SQL Server have tremendous potential. However, key aspects
of the technologies are not obvious. I’ve talked with (and interviewed) many developers and managers
who sense the potential but who have had extreme difficulty when it comes to the implementation.
Unfortunately, realizing the technology’s full potential requires more up–front effort than some
alternative approaches; it’s a rich environment, and to appreciate it fully requires a certain perspective.
One of my goals for this book is to help remove some of the fog that may be masking the end–to–end
vision of the technology and to help you see the beauty and the full potential of ASP.NET and SQL
Another reason I wrote this book is that I am frustrated constantly by how slow some sites are,
and I’m hoping you will be able to use the information here to help change that. The Web has amazing
possibilities, well beyond even the fantastic level it’s reached already—but they can be realized only if
performance is good. Slow sites are a turn–off for everyone.
My Internet connection today uses an 11 Mbps DSL line, and each of the twelve hyperthreaded
cores in my desktop CPU runs at nearly 3GHz; that’s nearly four times the network bandwidth and three
times the number of CPU cores I had when I wrote the first edition of this book just a couple of years
ago. It’s astonishingly fast. Yet even with that much network and CPU speed, many web pages still take a
long time to load—sometimes a minute or more—and my local network and CPU are almost idle during
that time. As software professionals, that should concern us. I find it almost embarrassing. I want to be
proud of not just my own work but also the work of my profession as a whole. Let’s make our sites not
just fast, but ultra–fast.