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Subject Info: Current State of Classic ASP and ASP.NET A d d  -  P o s tAdd P o s t
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cwilliams
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Added: April/15/2005 at 1:03pm | IP Logged Quote cwilliams


4/15/2005

These are my current opinions on the current state of Classic ASP and ASP.NET. Hopefully this information will help people make a decision on whether or not they should go with Classic ASP or ASP.NET.

I am writing this post because in addition to www.PowerASP.com I also own and operate www.CJWSoft.com. As a software vender I get a lot of customers that purchase my ASP.NET applications such as ASPProtect.NET . In this example some of my customers absolutely love the ASP.NET version of the application and have no problems installing and working with it. The rest of the people that purchase it haven't the slightest clue how to use or install the application "even with my documentation, support, and help" These people tend to know absolutely nothing about even the most basic ASP.NET error messages, these people have no idea what the web.config is, these people have no idea what "applications in IIS" are, these people have probably never read a book on ASP.NET, these people went with a technology way over their head !! I swear no matter how much documentation I add to the product or how many emails of help I type back to them these people just don't get ASP.NET. Because of this I feel it is necessary to write a thread on what I currently think about Classic ASP and ASP.NET so that people can make the right decision about what sort of things to purchase and what technology to go with. These are things I have wanted to say for quite some time, but never took the time to do so. I expect there will be disagreement and that is why I also put this in the forums so people can post what they think.
Here goes...

In general ASP.NET requires a lot more basic knowledge than using classic ASP and there are a lot of basic low level ASP.NET things that need to be set up correctly for many ASP.NET applications run correctly. People 
that work with ASP.NET need to be familiar with basic ASP.NET concepts such as IIS application settings, versions of the .NET framework, the aspnet_client folder, ASPNET account permissions, and the basics of the web.config file.  If you are using ASP.NET for whatever reason you really need to know about these things. If you are buying ASP.NET Code Behind source code you definetely need to have a good undertstanding of working with Code Behind ASP.NET and being able to compile the code after making changes. If your hosting somewhere you really need a good hosting company who understands your ASP.NET hosting needs and offers decent support. I find that most of them do not which just make things worse. It also doesn't help that some people tend to go with the cheapest hosting company they can can get their hands on because the old saying still holds true. "you get what you pay for".

If you are one of the ASP.NET challenged let me say this.
Stick with Classic ASP. ASP.NET is a step in the wrong direction for the average user which I like to refer to as "Joe Coder". Classic ASP is very powerful and easy to pick up. ASP.NET is not easy to pick up and never will be for a lot of people. In my opinion itís actually the wrong technology to use for anyone other than big corporations who need extreme scalability in their applications or for the hobbyist or object oriented programmer who just wants to use the latest and greatest.  Ask yourself if you really want to deal with compiling Code Behind code each time you make changes to your web site as opposed to just editing some files in notepad real quick like you can do with classic ASP ? Do you have the money to purchase and use Visual Studio.NET or are you going to struggle with compiling all your ASP.NET pages using a command line compiler and a batch file ? Yes, you can build ASP.NET code that isn't code behind but why even bother if that is the case because your missing the point of ASP.NET if you do that and missing out on a lot of powerful new features and concepts.

When I do custom projects for bigger clients I usually end up using ASP.NET because they want to go that way and understand the time and money involved. When I do any of my own projects I use Classic ASP because the truth is you can still make some rockin busy scalable web sites with Classic ASP just like you can still make great web sites with CGI, PP, Cold Fusion.. etc etc. Look around the web because a lot of the biggest sites out there still use those scripting technologies and their stuff runs very well. ASP.NET is a lot of hype and although some things about it are plain awesome it is an environment best suited for real object oriented programmers, not the weekend code warriors.

The other thing to keep in mind about classic ASP is the shear abundance of applications and scripts available for it. ASP.NET can be expensive for that reason alone as there still is a shortage of good time tested applications out there and what is out there is always priced a lot higher.

In addition to that half of the ASP.NET applications out there are just half baked poorly converted versions of their Classic ASP counterparts. Is that the kind of thing you want to sink twice the money into or would you rather have something that runs well and has been tweaked year after year into a rock solid product?

You may ask "but is classic ASP going to be around 5 years from now?" Though you never really know until the new version of windows server ships I say "Hell Yes" it will be. According to my sources at Port80 Software who work very closely with the folks at Microsoft (as well as many other sources out there) it will almost certainly be in Longhorn which is the next version of Windows Server. Longhorn probably won't come out until 2007 and will be popular for 3-4 years after that. The version of windows server after that will most likely support Classic ASP as well and if it doesn't I am sure there will be a way to make ASP run on it.  If you really look around a lot of hosting companies are still running Windows Server 2000 which is 5 years old at the moment. The bottom line is Classic ASP helped put Microsoft web technologies on the map. Microsoft can not simply drop it because if they do they give up a dominate market share to the scripting competition being PHP, CGI, Cold Fusion.. etc etc PHP for instance a huge installed base on many platforms which are essentially free. ASP.NET can not compete with that in any way and not supporting Classic ASP would put microsoft in a bad position.

Take it from me. If you are a weekend code warrior/script kiddie. You'll be a lot happier sticking with classic ASP. You will also have save a lot of money and you can still have a great web site. There are tons of great applications out there in ASP and ASP still is and always will be the easiest scripting language to work with and learn. Better yet look around on sites like www.4guysfromrolla.com and see if you actually understand any of the latest articles. If it looks like Greek to you that is yet another sign that you should stick to classic ASP.

Personally, I will be focusing just as much time and effort on ASP.NET as I will on Classic ASP in the years to come for a few reasons.
  1. Because I sell software I obviously need to convert/re-write most of my appIications to work with ASP.NET. My living may eventually depend on it.
     
  2. Because I love using the latest technologies I want to continue to develop using ASP.NET.
     
  3. Because I do many custom projects for various clients using ASP.NET is a must.
  4. Because in some cases using ASP.NET over classic ASP makes total sense.

Just don't fall for the HYPE folks. I am one of the few established developers out there that has a set of Balls and is willing to put the truth out there and see past the bullsh*t. If you go ASP.NET do it because you seriosuly think you need the power and scalabilty and money and time is not an issue or because you are a hobbiest and object oriented programmer who likes working with and has time to work with the latest and greatest web scripting technolgies out there. I truly believe that so far ASP.NET is as much a success as it is a failure. I am sure some of you out there know what I mean by that.

Here are some links you should read as well.
 
http://rtfm.atrax.co.uk/infinitemonkeys/articles/asp/905.asp
 
http://www.itnewsgroups.net/group/microsoft.public.inetserve r.asp.general/topic2074.aspx
 
http://msmvps.com/greglow/archive/2005/04/12/41673.aspx
 
http://www.acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=News&file=artic le&sid=349
 
http://www.developer.com/net/asp/article.php/3318911

Chris Willians
http://www.cjwsoft.com/about.asp



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webdev
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Added: April/20/2005 at 10:23am | IP Logged Quote webdev

Thanks Chris - your post was refreshing and well said.

I work at a (small) custom solutions company (less then 10 people) that switched over to asp.net about two years ago. The burning question is - are we better for it?

Our development methodology and publishing process has become much more complex. In general, it takes longer for us to actually get work done. Most of us (except our team lead) came from a Visual Basic background - the days of saving an asp page and quickly checking to see the result are long gone - we now face compilation times up to a minute between saves! (the generated dll is over 6 MB in size and growing every month)

Performance for the first page hit is outrageous. Granted, subsequent requests are much faster, but there's nothing like demo-ing a new site while having the client wait for A MINUTE OR TWO for that first request.

Some of us are slowly realizing that the situation is worsening. As I stated before - we're a small company and so are many of our clients. We've had the occasional university or football team, but for the most part we deal with small to medium sized businesses. A problem we encounter every day are the small changes & update requests from the client that normally would take a minute or two in Classic ASP. Opening the project, getting the latest version, making the actual change, compiling and publishing easily adds 15 minutes to what normally could be done in 5. This REALLY adds up and it becomes hard to justify the time to clients whose (previous) development was done more efficiently. In that way we're still competing with those who are developing in pure scripting solutions. (we've lost several clients who could not afford the costs of .Net development)

As I mentioned our VB team learned C#. I enjoy writing windows applications with it and am working on my first DirectX game. Some of the built in functionality available in ASP.Net is nice as well (file uploads, for example). Others may be less useful (datagrid, calendar) if you've already solved that problem previously with Classic ASP. (and have an extensive toolbox to draw from)

I don't consider myself 'Joe Coder' or the 'Weekend Code Warrior'. I am a progammer (specializing in web development) by career. My personal projects however are primarily written in Classic ASP. I do this for speed and because I believe that it will be easier for others to extend the work if they need. It allows me to experiment with new ideas and solve problems quicker. I use the benefit of the .Net framework when needed through aspx pages and a custom dll (registered on the server) that contains classes that expand what I can do with a web site. (upload, xml requests, imaging, pop/smtp, etc..)

The only concern I have is that I know Microsoft will eventually drop support for ASP 3.0. This concern would be alleviated if there were a community supported version of an ASP interpreter/isapi. PHP in that regard has a LOT going for it. I would support an open-source effort for a Classic ASP parser (written in .Net to leverage it's benefits) and have thought of writing one on several occasions.

Cheers!

Edited by webdev on April/20/2005 at 10:27am
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Ducati996Guy
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Added: April/26/2005 at 9:33pm | IP Logged Quote Ducati996Guy

Hi Chris,

I agree with most of your comments. I use a mixture of classic ASP and ASP.Net and make the call on which to use depending on the requirements.

The abilty to use ASP.Net controls for things like charts and image thumbnail creation etc without the need to register a com object is well worthwhile in my opinion and makes life easier for complex stuff that used to require 3rd party objects. 

The use of RAD tools such as CodeCharge give me all the power of datagrids with the added ability to use a micture of SQL and arrays and are far more flexible IMHO. Datagrids always seem to assume you always want to output all the fields from a statement. The ASP.Net code for grabbing a series of data sets always seems more complex than it needs to be (of course it may just be my lack of understanding).

I dont necessarily agree with the whole code behind model but then all of my ASP stuff has been template driven anyway. What other advantages do you see in code-behind? I am pretty sure I read an article about this from Scott Mitchell that talked about the only reason it was there was because of Visual Studio?

So in my opinion it is horse for courses. If you need ease of use for charts, controls, thimbnails etc then ASP.net wins hands down. If it is a data page getting a series of SQL requests from a database then a dozen lines of classic ASP seems much easuer to me. But then, this is only my opinion. *smile*

Thanks

David

 



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cwilliams
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Added: April/27/2005 at 1:35pm | IP Logged Quote cwilliams

Well, besides Uploading and Image Resizing being built in there really isn't anything all that important missing with classic ASP right now.

You have CDOSYS which can send email and is on 2000 and 2003 server by default.

You have the xml parser component which can post to and grab remote content as well as deal with xml issues. It is usally on 2000 and 2003 servers as well.

You have the ADO Stream Object which you can use to stream images and files.

All you really need is a component for uploading and image resizing and your not missing anything critical. Both of which you can get for free and anyone hosting commerically will have something installed to handle it. "at least right now"

Clever people out there are using using ASP.NET pages called by ASP pages to resize images and upload files.

And of course there are the methods to uploading in classic ASP using just code. Inefficient for anything serious but possible none the less and worth mentioning.

Edited by cwilliams on April/27/2005 at 1:45pm


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cwilliams
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Added: January/04/2006 at 11:08pm | IP Logged Quote cwilliams

just a little update here...

longhorn / vista... has Classic ASP support built in as I speculated and some are saying that means classic ASP has at least another 10 years in it which is encouraging

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/LifecycleSupportForClassicASPI nWindows.aspx

http://www.frontpagewebmaster.com/m-300437/tm.htm

I have been spending a lot of time with ASP.NET 2.0 lately... started with the beta back in June..still not sure what I think of it overal but like they say in that article its the future.. 



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Added: March/31/2006 at 9:06pm | IP Logged Quote jakegnyc

Hi Chris & all,

I've developed an online "camp management" system for the non-profit I work for, and used Classic ASP. Unfortunately, I also used MS Access as my database, and have regretted it as the system grew to over 3,000 users!

So, we're now upgrading to SQL Server and cleaning all the code as we go - making it more standards compliant, implementing AJAX where it proves useful, etc.

While doing so, I'm wondering if I should move to ASP.NET. I'm very nervous about how long it may take us, and how much harder it may make editing the site (which is still being developed and grown every week). Reading this article has confirmed my suspicion that I should stay with Classic ASP.

BUT... I was wondering if ASP.NET 2.0 changes this? Should I be moving forward with the new technology? What's your experience with ASP.NET 2.0 over 1?

Thanks... and thanks for a great site!

Jake.

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