Posted on 3/31/2020 in Web Development

By Matt Wiseley

In the world of website software and application development, there are many frameworks and languages that developers can choose from. Each framework has features and benefits that make them different. The framework I will be discussing in this blog post is ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core. (ASP is Active Server Pages and .NET is Network Enabled Technologies.)

What is ASP.NET?

ASP.NET is a Microsoft web development platform that was first released in 2002. It is designed to work with the HTTP protocol. This is important because it is the standard protocol used across all web applications. ASP.NET allows developers to create web applications, web services, and dynamic content-driven websites.

What is ASP.NET Core?

ASP.NET Core is a free, cross-platform, and open-source web framework also developed by Microsoft. It is a modular framework that allows developers to pull in only the components they need for a given application while still providing a stable and supported platform to keep apps running. ASP.NET Core runs on MacOS, Linux and Windows. It was released for the first time in 2016 and is a re-design of earlier Windows-only versions of ASP.NET. This cross-platform capability is a big step forward and allows hosting of ASP.NET applications on significantly less expensive and more stable Linux hosts. The framework has already had several releases with the latest version 3.1 in March 2019 providing long-term support for use in production applications.

Developers who know ASP.NET can leverage their existing knowledge of C# or VB.NET and can quickly pick up the framework differences introduced in ASP.NET Core.

There are plenty of good reasons to use ASP.NET when developing a website or web application. High speed, low cost, and support for multiple programming languages are among the most significant benefits. ASP.NET is built into the familiar Windows server environment, requiring less setup and configuration than other web development platforms that must be installed and configured separately. The popularity of ASP.NET makes online resources and skilled developers easy to find.

1. Faster & More Efficient

Websites and applications built with ASP.NET can be faster and more efficient than a website built with PHP, for example. ASP.NET applications are compiled, which means the code is translated into object code, which is then executed. This compilation process takes a small amount of time during development but happens only once. After compilation, the code can be executed over and over by the .NET platform very quickly.

Interpreted code is not directly executed by the machine, but must be read and interpreted each time before being executed. Compiled code is usually faster and more scalable than interpreted code, and can do anything interpreted code can do. Examples of interpreted languages include PHP, JavaScript and Ruby.

The compilation process also provides validation that all of the code is consistent. For example, if a method named GetUser is renamed to GetEmployee as part of some code updates, any reference to GetUser throughout the rest of the application will cause an error during compilation, making it easy for the developer to identify and fix. Interpreted languages would not identify this error until the code is actually run and tested. In a large application, it is very time-consuming to manually test every scenario or to write and maintain additional code that tests every scenario whenever code is changed.

2. Cost

Software cost is an important factor when developing a website. It used to be that developers had to buy expensive software (called Integrated Development Environments, or IDEs) in order to build applications. These days, most code can be written using free tools. ASP.NET code can be written using a simple text editor, various free programming editors and, most commonly, Microsoft’s ubiquitous Visual Studio application, which is available in a free Community Edition for non-corporate use. Companies with more than 5 developers must purchase a license to use Visual Studio, but the cost is competitive with professional IDEs for other platforms. Microsoft also provides Visual Studio Code, a lighter-weight IDE and editor, which is free for everyone, including corporations.

In addition to an IDE, websites require web application server software and a hosting server. Most ASP.NET applications use Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Server). IIS is available for all versions of Microsoft Windows at no additional cost. Windows hosting servers are usually more expensive than comparable Linux servers, which are commonly used to run PHP, JavaScript and Ruby applications. However, with the release of ASP.NET Core in 2016, ASP.NET applications are no longer reliant on IIS and can now be hosted on Linux and MacOS as well as Windows.

What type of database to use is an important decision when developing a web application. ASP.NET applications can use all of the popular databases, including Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, MariaDB, Postgres, MongoDB and CouchDB. While Microsoft SQL Server can require expensive software licenses for complex deployments, the free Express version is suitable for the vast majority of websites. All of the other databases mentioned here are free and open source.

ASP.NET is written using Object Oriented Programming languages such as C# or Object-Oriented Programming provides a framework and patterns for code organization and reuse. While is a holdover from Microsoft’s legacy Visual Basic product and has largely fallen out of favor among developers, C# is a first-class programming language and consistently ranks among the worlds most in-demand and most-used programming languages.

3. Solid Support

Finally, even though ASP.NET is open source and free to use, it is actively developed and supported by the world’s largest software company, Microsoft. Microsoft is heavily invested in its development platforms, their developer community, and supporting the companies to develop and run these applications. This means you don’t need to worry about your software becoming yesterday’s news or losing access to security updates any time soon.

As a whole, ASP.NET is a great framework to use when developing web sites and web applications. It is reliable, fast, easy to use, free and widely known. ASP.NET gives you full control of your development and can be used on any project, big or small. If you aren’t already using ASP.NET, why not give it a shot?

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