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Written (
4/15/2005)

Current State of Classic ASP and ASP.NET





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.

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.

Discuss this in the forums

Here are some links you should read as well.

http://www.aspfaq.com/2545


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=article&sid=349

http://www.developer.com/net/asp/article.php/3318911

 

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

 

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