5 things you may not know about ASP.NET

Since its release in early 2002, Microsoft’s ASP.NET platform has gone from strength to strength. Despite its strong uptake from Microsoft-centric software houses, there may be a few people who have hesitated in adopting ASP.NET for their web development platform. Here I present some things you might not know about ASP.NET. Perhaps it’ll encourage you to take a look at it.

Cost

There once was a time when the standard IDE for developing ASP.NET apps, Visual Studio, was prohibitively expensive for the average Joe. In late 2007, Microsoft released its first versions of ‘Express’ software, aimed at students and hobbyists. Though Express incarnations have fewer features than their full version cousins, they do offer the possibility of exploring ASP.NET. The Microsoft website offers a download page for Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition. An express version of SQL Server is also available, and can be downloaded from the SQL Server 2008 download page.

MVC Support

The MVC pattern is an established and well-recognised way of building web applications, and is familiar to RoR, Java and PHP developers. For many years, MVC was not available as a standard approach to developing ASP.NET websites, but Microsoft has recognised the deficiency and have (at the time of writing) released version 1.0 Release Candidate of ASP.NET MVC. The release has had a mixed response from the ASP.NET community, many of whom are used to the traditional code-behind model. Despite the inevitable squabbles as to which way is best, many have welcomed the MVC approach for its separation of concerns and finer control over JavaScript and markup. To find out more about the release candidate, head over to Scott Guthrie’s blog post.

Learning Resources

A big advantage for anybody learning a new technology is the wealth of learning material that is available. Although you can rely on a large number of books, the ASP.NET learn website contains many videos on both traditional and MVC ASP.NET as well as data access.

Intrinsic jQuery Support

The lightweight open source JavaScript library that’s taken the web by storm is now fully supported by Microsoft. As well as full intellisense support in Visual Studio, Microsoft will be using the library as-is, without forking or changing the code from the main jQuery branch. What’s more, Microsoft will be using jQuery as a basis for future ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX features. I feel this counters the argument of Microsoft not supporting open-source software.

Career Prospects

Microsoft’s ubiquity means that learning ASP.NET and supporting technologies will do no harm to your career prospects. .NET skills are ranked as some of the most in-demand in the UK.