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What the ASP.NET Platform is Used For and Reasons Why

written by: theinkandpen (Robert Mullon)•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 2/12/2010

An overview of ASP.NET and its most common applications on the web. Also, a look into why it's used over other web development platforms.

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    Usage of ASP.NET

    In a previous article, we discussed the history of ASP.NET and its simple uses in web development. In this article we will focus on what the language is primarily used for, and provide some information on commonly employed code.

    ASP.NET has many applications in today’s web development, particularly in building dynamic web sites with constantly updated content, development built around object oriented programming (OOP) or seamless integration of different applications (sometimes situated on different servers) into one single web page. Moreover, ASP.NET still offers support to develop in HTML (hypertext mark-up language) for browsers which don’t fully support modern features. This ensures great compatibility when developing in the ASP.NET programming environment.

    Using ASP.NET provides faster run-times than the conventional ASP version. This may not be obvious with simple projects, but as you begin to develop large databases or applications on different servers which need to work together, its advantages will become clear.

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    Object Oriented Programming

    Object oriented programming, or OOP in short, is a way of using objects to design and build applications. These objects are considered an instance of a class, ending with a .CS file extension (or namespace). You can use these to determine the characteristics and behaviours of this class. You might, for instance, create a class which allows you to enter and store a username and password or an account number. Classes usually store variables which are hidden from everyone but the intended user, and are encrypted or encapsulated.

    You might then create a user interface which allows the data to be inputted, and link all the objects together in order to start building your application.

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    Web Services

    Being specifically suited to dynamic content, with ASP.NET you can ensure that content is updated even if information isn’t available on the same server where your main web applications run. In simple terms this means that you can retrieve current news, weather or other up-to-date content from the server which holds that information, and then integrate everything to work with your main web site. You create a function which retrieves the information, typically referred to as ‘Calling’ or ‘Exposing’ web services. You can find tutorials which are free to read on the internet regarding these functions.

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    Compatibility and the ‘runat’ Command

    A great feature of ASP.NET is its total compatibility with many of the programming languages available. Having a team of developers specialised in different languages doesn’t become problematic anymore, as you can have them working in Visual Basic or C sharp to then translate and integrate the parts seamlessly.

    The ‘runat’ command is used for this function, or to translate code written in differing programming languages, which have many similarities but only differ in some grammar and syntax, and link everything into your desired application.

    ASP.NET is freely available and not as difficult to learn as one might expect, and it’s wide usage makes it an important part when developing web sites with fresh content, extensive databases or other important business aspects of the web.