Guide Build Your Own ASP.NET Website Using C# & VB.NET

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NET guides readers through obtaining, installing and configuring all the necessary software to develop dynamic Websites. Then, it takes readers step-by-step through the process of creating full-blown, practical applications including an intranet, shopping cart with Paypal credit card processing and more.

Throughout, the book focuses on best-practice code, ensuring application security and creating professional error handling routines. Unlike most beginner books, SitePoint allow readers to choose between two programming languages, VB. NET or c , when creating any of the applications in the book. Other books in this series. Add to basket. Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews.

NET page contains examples of all the above components except server-side includes that make up an ASP. The directives section is one of the most important parts of an ASP. Although there are many directives that you can use within your pages, the two most important are the Import and Page directives. We will discuss directives in greater detail later, but, for now, know that the Import and Page directives are the most useful for ASP. NET development. Looking at the sample ASP. NET page in Figure 2. NET or C. NET, directives can appear anywhere on a page, but are most commonly written as the very first lines.

Build Your Own ASP.NET Website Using C# & VB.NET. Pt. 1.

In Chapter 3, VB. This application logic defines variables, subroutines, functions, and more. Here, the tags enclose some VB. NET code, but it could just as easily be C if our page language were set thus:. Both of these code snippets contain comments — explanatory text that will be ignored by ASP. NET, but which serves to describe how the code works. In VB. NET code, a single quote or apostrophe ' indicates that the remainder of the line is to be ignored as a comment.

The sample ASP. NET page shown in Figure 2. You can set the language used in the block with the language attribute:. NET page will use the language provided by the language attribute of the Page directive. Each page may only contain code in a single language; for instance, it is not possible to mix VB. NET and C in the same page. The second attribute available is src , which lets you specify an external code file to use within your ASP. NET page:. You can use code render blocks to define inline code or inline expressions that execute when a page is rendered, and you may recognize these blocks from traditional ASP.

Code within a code render block is executed immediately as it is encountered, usually when the page is loaded or rendered for the first time, and every time the page is loaded subsequently. Code within a code declaration block, on the other hand, occurring within script tags, is only executed when it is called or triggered by user or page interactions. There are two types of code render blocks: inline code and inline expressions , both of which are typically written within the body of the ASP.

Inline expression render blocks can be compared to Response.

Build Your Own ASP.NET Website Using C# & VB.NET. Pt. 1.

Write in classic ASP. This equates to the following C :. The first line represents an inline code render block and must contain complete statements in the appropriate language. The last line is an example of an inline expression render block used to write out the value of the Title variable, Zak Ruvalcaba , onto the page.


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At the heart of ASP. NET pages lies the server controls , which represent dynamic elements that your users can interact with. There are four basic types of server control: ASP. All ASP. Because ASP. Server-side comments allow you to include, within the page, comments or notes that will not be processed by ASP. The difference between ASP.

NET comments are not sent to the client at all. NET code. Consider the following example:. NET runtime. The code could be modified to use server-side comments very simply:.


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  • Server-side include directives enable developers to insert the contents of an external file anywhere within an ASP. In the past, developers used server-side includes when inserting connection strings, constants, and other code that was generally repeated throughout the entire site. There are two ways your server-side includes can indicate the external file to include: using either the file or the virtual attribute. If we use file , we specify its filename as the physical path on the server, either as an absolute path starting from a drive letter, or as a path relative to the current file.

    Below, we see a file server-side include with a relative path:. Note that although server-side includes are still supported by ASP. NET, they have been replaced by a more robust and flexible model known as user controls. Discussed in Chapter 16, Rich Controls and User Controls , user controls allow for developers to create a separate page or module that can be inserted into any page within an ASP.

    One of the most eye-catching new innovations is the way you can create your applications, so you ca write them in VB. NET, Jscript, C a new Java-like language from Microsoft , or even a combination of them all — you'll choose the best language for the job, or whichever language compliments your skills best. Within your applications ASP. NET allows you to customise pages for a particular user, keep track of user's details as they move through a website and store information about them in a database of self-describing XML file. You can alter the layout of pages at the click of a button, add and remove files from your machines if you have the appropriate permissions and even draw on the logic of other applications without having to download them first.

    In this first chapter we'll be mainly concerned with ASP. NET's installation process. We'll start with a quick introduction to the world of web servers, dynamic web pages, and a little bit about what ASP. NET is, but what we really aim to achieve is to get you running a fully functional web server, with a fully functional ASP. NET installation. By the end of the chapter you'll have created a short ASP.

    NET are working as intended. Don't worry we'll have a look at some of the most common pitfalls encountered, just in case things don't go as planned! If you surf around the Internet today, you'll see that there are lots of static web pages out there.

    What do we mean by a static web page? Essentially, it's a page whose content consists of some HTML code that was typed directly into a text editor and saved as an. Thus, the author of the page has already completely determined the exact content of the page, in HTML, at some time before any user visits the page. Static web pages are often quite easy to spot; sometimes you can pick them out by just looking at the content of the page. The content text, images, hyperlinks, etc. For example, suppose we create a page called Welcome. Whenever any client comes to our site to view this page, it will look like this.

    The content of the page was determined before the request was made — at the time the webmaster saved the. Ok, so let's think for a moment about how a static, pure-HTML page finds its way onto a client browser:. We can even spruce up the presentation and usability of such pages by adding more HTML to create frames and tables. However, there's only so much we can achieve by writing pure HTML, precisely because their content is completely determined before the page is ever requested.

    For example, suppose we want to enhance our Welcome page — so that it displays the current time or a special message that is personalized for each user. These are simple ambitions, but they are impossible to achieve using HTML alone. If you're not convinced, try writing a piece of HTML for a web page that displays the current time, like this:. As you type in the HTML, you'll soon realize the problem — you know that the user will request the page sometime, but you don't know what the time will be when they do so!

    Hard-coding the time into your HTML will result in a page that will lways claim that the time is the same and will almost always display the wrong time. In other words, trying to write pure HTML for a web page that displays the time — but you can't be sure of the exact time that the web page should display until the time the page is requested. It can't be done using HTML alone. Also HTML offers no features for personalizing your web pages, each web page that is served is the same for every user.

    There's also no security with HTML, the code is there for everybody to view, and there's nothing to stop you from copying somebody else's HTML code and using it in your own web page.

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    Static pages might be very fast, as quick as copying a small file over a network, but they are quite limited without any dynamic features. Since we can't create our page by saving our hard-coded HTML into a file before the page is requested, what we need is a way to generate the HTML after the page is requested. There are two ways of doing this; we'll look at them both now.

    Before we go any further, we need to make sure everybody is up to speed on the terminology we've introduced here. A web server is a piece of software that manages web pages and makes them available to 'client' browsers — via a local network or over the Internet. In the case of the Internet, the web server and browser are usually on two different machines, possibly many miles apart.

    However, in a more local situation, we might set up a machine that runs the web server software, and then use a browser on the same machine to look at its web pages. It makes no difference whether we access a remote web server that is, a web server on a different machine to our browser application or a local one web server and browser on the same machine , since the web server's function — to make web pages available to all — remains unchanged. It might well be that you are the only person with access to our web server on your own machine, as would be case if you were running a web server from our home machine.

    Nevertheless, the principles remain the same. This is because it is the only web server that will run ASP. The web server comes as part of the installation for both Windows and Windows XP. IIS version 5. We'll look at how we go about installing IIS shortly; however first let's take a look at its role in helping to create dynamic web pages. To fully understand the nature of dynamic web pages, we first need to look at the limitations of what we can and can't do with a static web page. Even though we're only going to be creating dynamic web pages in this book using one of these methods, you need to be aware of the two different ways of doing it, as the underlying principles for both feature heavily throughout the book.

    In the client-side model, modules or plug-ins attached to the browser do all the work of creating dynamic pages. The HTML code is typically sent to the browser along with a separate file containing a set of instructions, which is referenced from within the HTML page. However, it is also quite common to find these instructions intermingled with the HTML codes. The browser then uses them to generate pure HTML for the page when the user requests the page — in other words, the page is generated dynamically on request.

    This produces a HTML page, which is sent back to the browser. Client-side technologies have fallen out of favor in recent times, as they take a long time to download, especially if we have to download a second file with a separate set of instructions. In some cases, we might have to download several files of separate instructions. A second drawback is that each browser interprets these instructions in different ways, so we have no way of guaranteeing that if Internet Explorer understands them, whether Netscape Navigator or Opera will.

    Also all code for client-side scripting is available to everybody, which can be undesirable. Again this set of instructions will be used to generate HTML for the page at the time the user requests the page. Once again, the page is generated dynamically upon request. Our set of five steps once more becomes six, however, with the subtle twist regarding where the processing of instructions is done:. The twist is that all the processing is done on the server, before the page is sent back to the browser. One of the key advantages this has over the client-side model is that only the HTML code describing the finished page is actually sent to the browser.

    This means that our page's logic is hidden away on the server, and that we can safely assume that most browsers should be able to at least have a go at displaying it. NET as you might have gathered, follows the server-side model. In fact either process of serving a dynamic web page is only slightly different from the process of serving a static web page — there's just one extra step involved Step 5 on the client or Step 4 on the server.

    But in both cases this difference is crucial — the HTML that defines the web page is not generated until after the web page has been requested. For example, we can use either technique to write a set of instructions for creating a page that displays the current time:. In this case, we can compose most of the page using pure HTML. It's just that we can't hard-code the current time. Instead, we can write a special code which would replace the highlighted line here that instructs the web server to generate that bit of HTML during Step 5 on the client, or Step 4 on the server, at the time the page is requested.

    We'll return to this example later in the chapter, and we'll see how to write the highlighted instruction using ASP. Now we're going to look at the various different technologies, including ASP. NET and see how the logic is supported in each. We just seen that there are also two distinct models for providing dynamic content. NET falls into the server-side model. However, we're going to look at what we consider to be the most important technologies in both models, as we will reference some of the client-side models in later chapters, particularly if we mention old style ASP.

    Not all of the technologies work in the same way as ASP. NET, but they all allow the user to achieve the same end-result — that of dynamic web applications. If ASP. NET is not an ideal solution to your problems, then you might want to consider these following technologies, taking into account the following questions:. We're now going to give a quick overview of what each one does, and in doing so, try to give you an idea of where ASP. Each of these technologies relies on a module or plug-in built into the browser to process the instructions we talked about earlier.

    The client-side technologies are a mishmash of scripting languages, controls, and fully fledged programming languages.

    Java is a complete application programming language in its own right. Netscape had originally developed a scripting language, known as LiveScript, to add interactivity to their web server and browser range. It was introduced in the release of the Netscape 2 browser, when Netscape joined forces with Sun and in the process, they changed its name to JavaScript. JavaScript borrows some of its syntax and basic structures from Java which in turn borrowed ideas from C , but has a different purpose — and evolved from different origins LiveScript was developed separately to Java.

    For example, while JavaScript can control browser behavior and content, it isn't capable of controlling features such as file handling. In fact, JavaScript is actively prevented from doing this for security reasons. Think about it: you wouldn't want a web page capable of deleting files on your hard drive, now would you?

    Meanwhile, Java can't control the browser as a whole, but it can do graphics and perform network and threading functions. Javascript is much easier to learn than Java. It is designed to create small, efficient, applications that can do many things, from performing repetitive tasks, to handling events generated by the user such as mouse clicks, keyboard responses, and so on. It has only minor differences from the Netscape version of the language, although in older versions of both browsers, the differences were originally quite a lot wider.

    VBScript was intended to be a direct competitor to JavaScript. In terms of functionality, there isn't much difference between the two; it's more a matter of personal preference — VBScript has a similarly reduced functionality. However, it enjoys one advantage that makes it more attractive to novice programmers, in that, unlike JavaScript, it isn't case-sensitive and is therefore less fussy about the particulars of the code.

    Although this "advantage", makes it a lot slower and less efficient. For a short while there were some proprietary plug-ins for Netscape that provided VBScript support, but these never took off. You'll find that JavaScript is much more widely used and supported. If you want to do client-side scripting of web pages on the Internet then JavaScript is the only language of choice. Indeed Microsoft themselves have replaced VBScript in their.

    NET framework, with VB. VBScript should only be considered when working on Intranet pages where it is known that all clients are IE on Windows. With both JavaScript and VBScript there is a module, known as a script engine, built into the browser that dynamically processes the instructions, or script, as it is known in this case. When added to a web page, it provides a specific piece of client-side functionality, such as a bar chart, timer, client authentication, or database access.

    ActiveX controls can be executed by the browser when they are embedded in a web page. There is a catch. ActiveX controls were developed by Microsoft, and despite being compatible with the HTML standard, they are not supported on any Netscape browser prior to version 6 which, at time of writing, was still in beta without an ActiveX plug-in.

    Without this, they will only function on Internet Explorer. Also, unlike VBScript, ActiveX is able to manipulate items on the user's machine such as the files or Windows registry. For this reason it is very often considered a security risk and is not even allowed through firewalls. Consequently, ActiveX controls still can't really be considered either a common or a cross-platform way of making your pages dynamic and are falling out of use.

    Java is a cross-platform language for developing applications. When Java first hit the Web in the mids, it created a tremendous stir.


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    • Java enjoys better functionality than scripting languages, offering better capabilities in areas such as graphic functions and file handling. Java is able to provide these powerful features without compromising security because the applets run in what is known as a sandbox — which prevents a malicious program downloaded from the web from doing damage to your system.

      Java also boasts strong database support through JDBC. These tags tell the browser to download a Java file from a server and execute it with the Java Virtual Machine built into the browser. Of course, this extra step in the web page building phase means that Java applets can take a little while to download, and can take even longer to process once on the browser. So, while smaller Java applets that provide features such as drop-down menus and animations are very popular on the Web, larger ones are still not as widespread as scripted pages.

      Although the popularity of Java today isn't quite what some people expected, it makes an ideal teaching tool for people wishing to break out into more complex languages; and its versatility makes it well suited for programming web applications. It relies on a Curl plug-in having been installed on your browser first, and currently only works on very recent browsers. The advantage are that the download time is faster than Java, and also you don't have to worry about integrating different languages into the page, as Curl is capable of providing the same features as both Java and JavaScript.

      Each of these technologies relies on a modular attachment added onto the web server rather than the browser. Consequently, only HTML, and any client-side script, is sent back to the browser by the web server. In other words, none of the server-side code is sent back. Server-side technologies have a more consistent look and feel than client-side ones, and it doesn't take that much extra learning to move between some of the server-side technologies excepting CGI. The Common Gateway Interface CGI is a mechanism for creating scripts on the server, which can then be used to create dynamic web applications.

      CGI is a module that is added to the web server. It has been around for quite a bit longer than even ASP, and right now, a large proportion of dynamically created web pages are created using CGI and a scripting language. Rather, CGI allows the user to invoke another program such as a Perl script on the web server to create the dynamic web page, and the role of CGI is to pass the user supplied data to the this program for processing.

      However, it does provide the same end result — a dynamic web application. It adds an extra step to our server—side model of creating dynamic content: namely, it's necessary to run a CGI program to create the dynamic page, before the page is processed on the server. What's more, the format in which CGI receives and transmits data means that the data is not easily manipulated by many programming languages, so you need one with good facilities for manipulating text and communicating with other software.

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      While they can adequately do the job for us, they are some of the more complex languages to learn. Visual Basic doesn't offer adequate text handling facilities, and is therefore rarely used with CGI. It also runs on many different platforms, which will ensure its continued popularity. ASP commonly relied on either of the JavaScript or VBScript scripting languages although it was also possible to use any scripting language installed on Windows, such as PerlScript to create dynamic web pages. ASP is a module the asp. ASP lets us use practically any of the functionality provided by Windows, such as database access, e-mailing, graphics, networking, and system functions, and all from within a typical ASP page.

      However, ASP's shortcomings are that it is very, very slow performance wise. It is also restricted to using only scripting languages. It can't do all the things that a fully-fledged programming language can. Secondly, the scripting languages, being like "junior" versions of full programming languages, took a lot of shortcuts to make the language smaller. Some of these shortcuts make their programs longer and more complicated than is otherwise necessary. As we're going to see, ASP. NET rectifies a lot of this by making code more structured, easier to understand, and shorter. It allows the Java program to leverage the aspects of the Java2 platform such as JavaBeans and the Java 2 libraries.

      JavaServer Pages isn't directly related ASP, but it does boast the ability to embed Java code into your web pages using server-side tags. ColdFusion is a module installed onto your web server. ColdFusion also utilizes a proprietary set of tags, which are processed by the ColdFusion Server software. The major difference is that while ASP.

      A drawback is that the ColdFusion software doesn't come for free and indeed you could find yourself paying well in excess of a thousand dollars for the privilege of running Cold Fusion on your web server. When a visitor opens the page, the server processes the PHP commands and then sends the results to the visitor's browser, just as with ASP. NET or ColdFusion. Unlike ASP. When built as an Apache module, PHP is especially speedy. A downside is that you have to download PHP separately and go through a series of quite complex steps to install it and get it working on your machine.

      PHP's language syntax is similar to C and Perl. This might prove a barrier to people with no prior programming experience, but if you have a background in either language then you might want to take a look. PHP also has some rudimentary object-oriented features, providing a helpful way to organize and encapsulate your code. So why are you telling me about all these other technologies if we're only going to be learning about ASP.

      NET you might be wondering? Hopefully you'll see a similarity between the technologies, and this will aid your understanding of ASP. NET also relies on a module attached to the web server. However, the ASP. NET Framework to do the processing for it.