ASP.NET 2.0 provides cleaner, developer-friendly coding

With ASP.NET 2.0, Microsoft made trade-offs. Controls for log-ins do the work for you. In other places, like HTML formatting, the software no longer imposes its will.

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The people that create software tools know there are trade-offs to be made between easing the developer's burden and giving the developer real power to create. With ASP.NET 2.0 Microsoft tool makers took some interesting approaches to such trade-offs.

ASP.NET 2.0 adds a whole lot of features to simplify development. It comes with "encapsulated functionality" in the form of basic building blocks to allow easier data controls, breadcrumb navigation, log-in control, and more. All of these traits will be covered in upcoming editions of VS.NET Essentials.

But, today, we are going to take some time to talk about the things the software does not do for you, at least not without your specific approval. At TechEd last week in Orlando, Fla., Scott Guthrie, product unit manager, Microsoft ASP.NET, described these attributes, and they, like cool new features, are worth noting.

Extensibility, as described by Guthrie, is one of the key improvements to ASP.NET. Components can be replaced with custom implementations. But on even a more basic level, the Microsoft design team has listened to concerns of developers, and the results span from start-up project folders that do not come pre-populated with a lot of files you have to remove – the ad hoc state of ASP.NET 1.0 tools' start-up folders – to turned-off automatic reformatting of HTML source code – which was the bane, for some, encountered after trips to the WYSIWYG window to see what things looked like.

Guthrie described this and more in a session that was taped as part of the MSDN Webcast series available for download.

To build a project, you just create a new folder, said Guthrie. It's cleaner and blanker, with 'no crud,' he said.

It is no longer a case of "you work our way or no way at all,' said Guthrie. Both VB.NET code and C# code are supported within the ASP.NET 2.0 work environment. "Web projects can support both now simultaneously," he said.

Developers, he said, can set the Visual Studio 2005 ASP.NET 2.0 tools to create pages that work with a variety of browsers. This includes a transitional XHTML that is 'a good bet' to work with Firefox, he said. And, as with other Web page creation software, you can now set the system to accept the style of HTML tagging you prefer. Things do not revert back to the tagging protocols the tool "likes," as you toggle between source and design views. "You can flip back and forth between design mode and source mode, and not worry about it changing your HTML," he said. Among sometimes onerous requirements that have been jettisoned for this rev of ASP.NET: FrontPage and IIS are no longer required on the developer's machine.

IntelliSense has been expanded in this version of the Microsoft developer software. IntelliSense is, for developers, like Spellchecker is for editors – not a universal taste. Still, its new use here for CSS page directs proved popular with the Orlando crowd, drawing applause when described by Guthrie.

For government and other accessibility conscious work, the new tools can save development time via a useful embedded accessibility checker.

Some resources
MSDN Webcast: ASP.NET 2.0: Overview of ASP.NET 2.0 (Part 1 of 2)
ASP.NET 2.0 Beta 2 and Visual Web Developer Beta 2
More downloadable slides and demos
Quick Start view of Standard Controls


This was first published in June 2005

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