Learning all about ASP.NET 2.0's size and complexity

I started working with ASP.NET 2.0 well before the “go-live” license which came out around March of 2005. Throughout its development I’ve read ASP.NET books/blogs, watched lots of online presentations, downloaded and tried tons of demos, written my own demo and sample websites and even done some contracting work building an ASP.NET site and frequently I still think there is more I don’t know than what I do. What I do know can be summed up in two words: It’s huge.

ASP.NET 2.0 is simply immense and getting larger with each passing month as Microsoft adds things like CSS control adapter, AJAX support along with the new AJAX control toolkit to name a few. The web is evolving so quickly I give kudos to MS for trying to keep pace and in a some ways to catch up.

That said, Jim Tierney and I worked on the ASP.NET 1.1 designer that currently ships in the BDS IDE and we’ve been discussing for a long time the complexities of ASP.NET 2.0 development and what it means to the BDS developer. If you’ve been doing development with ASP.NET I’d love to hear from you about how you develop web sites and what technology.

8 thoughts on “Learning all about ASP.NET 2.0's size and complexity

  1. By far asp.net is the most productive framework for web applications.I am waiting for BDS to support .net 2 so that i will get the rela powerful .net 2 mail components

  2. A few things…
    1. We use NetTiers pretty heavily for our corporate sites. It’s a great way to get a .NET 2.0 DAL/BLL built from a database schema. The only downsides are that it’s overkill for a small site and it’s become so "feature rich" you have to spend a good amount of time learning about all the various options. It’s gone from a set of templates to create a framework to an entire mindset.
    2. When doing any work in ASP.NET applications me and my team almost never use the actual Form Designer, in either BDS or VS. I may use them to remind myself of a property but I honestly rarely, rarely use the UI. Perhaps a hold-over from developing in TextPad for ASP apps but since XHTML and CSS are *very* important to me I find it’s just easier to hand-code it vs. letting a designer muck about in my HTML. If you want to just throw a site together then sure, it’s nice, but as people want to use more CSS, less tables and standards compliant.
    3. A fast, responsive text-editor is *key* for my development, but especially with .NET 2.0. Since I don’t use the designer much I rely upon the editor to code-complete, show hints, syntax highlight, etc. It needs to know about CSS, XHTML, .NET and JavaScript.
    Honestly, I think ASP.NET, 1.1 or 2.0, is overkill for small sites. I think of the times I need to whip together a quick two or three page site with a small "sign me up" database back end. In ASP or PHP I could do that from inside of notepad and ftp the needed files to a host. When I got a call on vacation that some critical, but small, business rule needed to change I could ftp, download, edit, upload and it would be fixed.
    One of the things I love about Ruby on Rails is it adds all the power of an object model yet with all the simplicity of just editing a text file in TextPad and uploading it. I wouldn’t dream of trying to maintain a ASP.NET site in just TextPad nor would I even begin to know how to create just a basic three page site in .NET without Visual Studio to set everything up for me.
    There is no good "middle-ground" in ASP.NET. You *can* dump your code up in the top of the .aspx file but that works only so far *OR* you can do code-behind but then you are into having to compile the code into an assembly and get the right folder structure and upload it and maintain it via Visual Studio. Sure, you can tell it to compile on the fly but I don’t remember where that switch it, it’s not an easy thing.
    Anyway, that’s my bit about ASP.NET 🙂

  3. I’m yet to take a serious jump into ASP.NET programming and from what I’ve read I’m glad I didn’t bother spending lots of time on ASP.NET 1.1 since ASP.NET 2.0 is reportedly so different.
    I’m a little suspicious that this is all reminicent of the MS database access libraries of yesteryear, each library replacing the last, all requiring a rewrite of existing code to use the new features. Contrast this to the VCL where backward compatibility is king and skills learnt a decade ago are valid today.
    Joel Spolsky gave an elegant summation of this a few years back in his Fire and Motion article.
    <http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000339.html&gt;
    I want BDS to support ASP.NET 2.0 but if ASP.NET 3.0 and beyond are going to be radically different again I’ll be questioning whether it’s worth my while moving to them. Other solutions such as IntraWeb and PHP keep pace with current standards while maintaining backward compatibility. I don’t want to have to relearn my skills and rewrite my code every few years just because Microsoft has decided it needs to do things a little differently.
    Lachlan

  4. Hmmm?
    Why has my posting been attributed to a Shawn Oster?
    Seems to be a problem with your display of gravatar icons. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never registered with gravatar, whatever that is.
    Lachlan

  5. It sounds dreadful. I’m leaning towards Intraweb, because life’s too short for Microsoft’s cancerous monstrosities. Their productions are like the very expensive movies that are turkeys, and they’ll never understand why. They just don’t have the soul of innovation and software, they have always and it seems always will work on the "monkey see, monkey do" principle. They haven’t a baldy notion what’s needed. Any child can see that their products and their ideas are hopeless. Don’t follow them at all, do your own thing. Fortune favours the brave (or if not at least Borland should go out with some dignity, if it’s not too late). Forget ASP. Create a new web development product. If you don’t, somebody else will.

  6. All,
    Thanks for the comments! I plan on discussing some of the things that I have found and done with ASP.NET so this is a good start.
    Lachlan, sorry about the comment mix up and thanks for letting me know I’ll look into it.
    -Steve

  7. I’ve worked out why I thought my comments were being attributed to somebody else. It’s not a coding error, rather it’s a visual… irregularity.
    That thin grey line just above the commentors name looks like a separator line for the end of the post. The name following it (to me at least) looks like it belongs to the following post rather than the actual post above it.
    Lachlan

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