written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 11/12/2010
Learn more about active server pages (ASP), what they are and what they can do using HTML/XHTML when creating dynamic web sites. You'll find an active server page definition here followed up by info on what active server pages are used for.
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What Are Active Server Pages?
Active Server Pages (ASP) were introduced by Microsoft as an application to make web site pages dynamic. In essence, ASP is a server-side scripting language like PHP but it cannot work on platforms that are not Microsoft supported.
With ASP usage to make pages in a web site more dynamic, web developers can offer a smoother overall look to the web site while also making each page have a higher level of user interaction. Overall, using Active Server Pages can offer both the end-users and web developers a way to create dynamic and driven web pages.
Active Server Pages are used for a multitude of web related functions. By using ASP's a programmer can dynamically add, change or edit the content to a web page or an overall web site. Web pages can be customized based on individual site users which can help retain web site membership.
ASP's also allow for web site creators to respond automatically to site user questions and suggestions quickly. Plus, any data needed can be accessed alone or through a database to be submitted automatically from HTML forms.
Another bonus to using ASP's is security for the web site owner and users. Since ASP code cannot be viewed from a browser, less information is open on the net for those looking to hack web sites and obtain user account information. This also gives the database information that is pulled with ASP's a place of relative anonymity. If you are interested in using ASP's check out the Beginner's Guide to ASP.
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Classic ASP and ASP.Net
It is important to note that there are two versions of ASP that are used. The first version, which is now called Classic ASP was the first active server pages inception by Microsoft. Under the classic mode, programmers have more of a role in active scripting and it is lighter in file size. Classic ASP uses an interpreter to execute the server-side scripting. When a web page request is made from a browser, the output of a web page is parsed linearly.
The second version is called ASP.Net and is much like the first version but does have some differences in that some scripting is auto-generated and the file size is much larger. ASP.Net also uses an interpreter to execute server-side scripting but the web pages are compiled into .Net classes instead of being parsed linearly. The classes in .Net contain both the static HTML and the server-side code information, so that when a web page is accessed the rendering of the web page is executed using compiled code. You can learn more about this second version through Micorsoft's ASP.Net site.