Playing with ASP.NET

This isn’t related to low-cost websites, but it IS related to development. So I’m leaving some notes here. My friend Robert is visiting from out of town so we can have an intense ASP.NET bootcamp this week. I hardly know anything about ASP.NET and web development with it, but I figure it won’t hurt to learn some basics about it.

Getting Set Up

Microsoft provides some free development tools for getting started with it; while they don’t do everything their professional-level tools can do, they do a whole heap of a lot when it comes to just learning the environment. Plus, it is based on their terrific Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE). Yay!

Getting a free version of the tools was as simple as going to Microsoft’s ASP.NET website to download the Microsoft Free Web Platform Installer (WEB PI). The installer pulls the files it needs to install from the Internet, so it takes a bit of time to complete. It also installs SQL Server 2008 Express, the developer version of Microsoft’s database. In my case, it was about 160MB of data.

Splashing in the Kiddie Pool

After getting set up, I ran the newly-installed Microsoft Web Developer 2008 Express and blinked at the IDE. I dimly remembered something about it from having done a Flex vs PHP vs ASP analysis for Adobe via another company, so I just created a new Web Project and ran it from the Build menu. The IDE has a built-in web server, so I didn’t have to install Internet Information Server (IIS), the Windows web server, which is nice. I was rewarded with a nice blank page. The first successful compilation!

I recalled what I knew of the ASP.Net development process:

  • You code your HTML files in aspx files. This is similar to creating PHP files.
  • You can switch to “Design View” and you can drag and drop various controls on the page. This changes are reflected in the aspx file as special widgets that are executed on the server.
  • When you drop a control on the page that has associated events, they appear in a “partial class” that implements the handlers.

As for how to architect an actually application, I currently have no sense of what the best practices are. So I will start with my basic understanding of how a web app works this week, watch a few tutorial videos from the asp.net website, and see where that goes. There’s a LOT to learn!