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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) March 16, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. CONTESTS: New Submit & Win: Director 8 Shockwave Studio! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: The Path to ASP 3. NET NEWS: * An I-opening Hack * Wireless Application Protocol Draws Criticism * FreeBSD 4.0 Released * BeOS 5 Available This Month * Gnutella Gets Yanked

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. CONTESTS:

>New Submit & Win: Director 8 Shockwave Studio!

Every Thursday, the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas - your words could be here, being read by thousands of other subscribers. And now, writers that get published in the newsletter will earn themselves a copy of Macromedia's brand new Director 8 Shockwave Studio! To learn more about this great multimedia Web authoring suite and how to submit your article idea, just head to:


This week, writer Alan Mendelevich returns with another ASP-focused article. Interested in ASP, but not sure how to get started? Alan launches you down the road, in "The Path to ASP." For his article, Alan receives a copy of Adobe Photoshop 5.5. Thanks to Adobe for providing our contributors with copies of Photoshop for the last month, and thanks to everyone that submitted their article ideas - we wish we had the time and space to print everyone's articles!


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****************************************************************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: The Path to ASP

>Learning ASP

Some time ago I wrote an article for WebReference called "10 Reasons To Develop in ASP". After publication I received several e-mails from people telling me that I've convinced them to give ASP a try, but they didn't know where to start. So now in this article, I will try to give some paths to learning ASP.

Let's start with explanation of what ASP is all about. ASP (Active Server Pages) is a server-side scripting technology, enabling developers to generate dynamic content for their Web sites. You just embed ASP code into your HTML pages, name them with ".asp" extension and place on the server. Sounds simple - and it really is, but some background knowledge will help you develop ASPs faster and more efficiently.

>Starting Points

Starting with new technology is always easier if you have experience with something similar. It took me 1-2 days to start developing in ASP, because I've previously developed with Netscape Server-Side JavaScript and other related languages. I knew the ideology and rules, which are generally the same for all Web- scripting engines. But previous experience in the same field is not always a common thing among people trying to learn ASP. For many of you, ASP is your first technology in this area.

There are 4 common paths preceding your move to ASP development: 1) You are HTML developer; 2) You are old-school application programmer; 3) You are developing with some other server-side engine; 4) You are completely new.

In the first three paths, you'll have some prior experience that will help you jump onto the ASP wagon faster than those who know nothing about development. HTML coders will definitely have no problems determining where to insert the pieces of code; programmers will have no problems with application logic; and other Web developers will need to learn only the syntax and some ASP- specific functionality. To start developing in ASP, it's useful to know at least the basics of HTML, HTTP, VBScript or JavaScript/ JScript, and SQL.

Although ASP is designed so that different languages could be implemented, there are 2 natively implemented languages. These are VBScript and JScript. You may choose which language is more convenient to you, but I would recommend VBScript, unless you have a very strong reason to do otherwise. The reason for this recommendation is very simple - the vast majority of ASP articles, tips and books are written using VBScript for examples and explanations. I will also use VBScript in this article.

Whether you are familiar with the languages and technologies mentioned above, or you've decided to just jump right in, it's time to start learning ASP. First off, let's look at the setting up a testing environment for your code.

>What's Needed

To run ASP, you need something to process the code you write. To get access to all the ASP features and to the same management console as will be on the deployment server, you'll need access to Windows NT 4.0 Server (with Option Pack) or Windows 2000 Server. This is the best solution in terms of features and functionality but is definitely quite expensive. You can also run ASP on a Windows95/98 machine; you just need to install Personal Web Server (PWS), which is available for free from Microsoft's Web site. There are also solutions enabling ASP to run on non-Microsoft operating systems and Web servers, but I don't think you'll need it on the learning stage. To write ASP code, all you need is a general text editor - Notepad will be fine.


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>The Basics

In this part I will try to show you the basics of ASP. This article doesn't pretend to be a complete ASP tutorial, but rather tries to give you some basic understanding of how to get started developing in ASP. So here we go with the basics:

- Give your files an .asp extension: Unless otherwise configured, the server will only process ASP statements in files with the extension ".asp".

- Enable scripting or execute permissions on directory with ASP files: It's a common problem among rookie ASP developers to forget to enable scripting permissions and then spending hours trying to find errors in their code. Look in your IIS documentation for an explanation of how to do this.

- Enclose your ASP statements between <% and %> symbols: To distinguish your ASP statements from the HTML they are embedded in, the server needs to know where ASP code starts and ends. You place your ASP statements between <% and %> delineators so the server can make this distinction. For example: <b><% Response.Write Date %></b> This example will write the current system date (via the ASP code between <% and %>) and make it bold (via the HTML tags outside <% and %>). To send the results of a function directly to the browser, you can use <%= and %=> delineators. For instance, the above example could be rewritten as: <b><%= Date %></b>.

- Use the built-in "Server" object to access methods and properties of the server: One of the most common usages of the Server object is to create instances of Server components. This is done with the CreateObject method of the Server object. The following example creates an instance of ADO database connection: <% Set cn = Server.CreateObject("ADODB.Connection") %>

- Use the built-in Application object to share information between all users of the application: You can use this object to share information between several users of your application. The following example shows how you can store some value in Application collection: <% Application("message")="Hello World!" %> This value could be accessed by all the sessions currently using the application.

- Store information throughout the user session with the built-in Session object: You can pass information between pages user accesses within one session. For example, you can store the name of user in a session object on one page (for instance, a login page) and then retrieve it on another. <% Session("visitorsname")="Jack" %> ... Hello <%= Session("visitorsname") %> ! This will send "Hello Jack!" to the browser.

- To access the information sent by the browser to the server, use the built-in Request object: You can access data submitted by the user, cookies, server variables and more using the built-in Request object. The following example shows how to output the value of an item "visitorsname" that was form submitted to the server with the POST method: Hello <%= Request.Form("visitorsname") %>!

- With the built-in Response object, you can control and actually send the data to browser: You can write output to the browser, set cookies, change the content type of output, redirect the client to other pages and more by using this object. This example could be used to redirect the client to a login.asp page: <% Response.Redirect "default.asp" %>

- Use traditional flow control statements to implement your logic: You can use Visual Basic's if...then statements, loops and other language features to accomplish the logic you need. In the following example, a welcome message is shown if the user has verified that his/her age is at least 18 and a forbidden message is shown 5 times in different font sizes if they are underage:

<% if CInt(Request.Form("age"))>=18 then %> Welcome to the site! <% else for i=1 to 5 %> <font size="<%= i =%>">Forbidden!</font> <% next end if %>

>Advanced topics

That will get you started on the road towards ASP, but to become really professional in any field, you need to continue to learn constantly. Deepening your knowledge is never-ending process. There are two ways of getting more knowledge. The first is from experience and the second is from technical articles, tips and examples. Experience will come only by developing more ASP projects. I can't help you get more of that, but I can give you destinations for advanced ASP articles, tips, tutorials and examples. There are lots of ASP-related sites publishing ASP articles (at a variety of skill levels). Among these, my favorites are (in random order): ASPToday (http://www.asptoday.com/) 4GuysFromRolla (http://www.4guysfromrolla.com/) and 15 Seconds (http://www.15seconds.com). These sites publish new ASP-related articles on a regular basis showing you new aspects and techniques of ASP development. You may also want to check the ASP section of ArticleCentral.com at http://www.articlecentral.com/cat.asp?deptid=24 for daily updated list of newest articles about ASP on many sites around the Web (including those mentioned above).


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About the Author:

Alan Mendelevich lives in Lithuania, and currently spends most of his time working on ArticleCentral.com. He and the rest of ArticleCentral "work virtually around the clock monitoring hundreds of Web development related sites and listing newest resources in an easy to use categorized catalog. Every article of significant importance to the Webmaster and Web developer community is listed here the very same day it is released."

You can reach Alan at: alan@articlecentral.com or http://www.articlecentral.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: An I-opening Hack, Wireless Application Protocol Draws Criticism, FreeBSD 4.0 Released, BeOS 5 Available This Month, Gnutella Gets Yanked

>An I-opening Hack

With a minor cable tweak, an engineer jury-rigged his new, $99 Net "appliance" into a fully functional Pentium PC. Supplies are dry - and now the company's IPO is boasting unexpected glitter. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,34977,00.html Wired.com, 000316

>Wireless Application Protocol Draws Criticism

Even as support among vendors for the WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) grows, so do claims that the wireless transmission technology is insufficient - and many of those criticisms are coming from the WAP Forum's own membership ranks. http://www.cnn.com/2000/TECH/computing/03/14/wap.critics.idg/index.html CNN.com, 000314

>FreeBSD 4.0 Released

With all the coverage given to Linux, some of the other free operating systems occasionally get overlooked. One of the perennial favorites, FreeBSD, has just announced a new major revision - version 4.0 is now available for download. http://slashdot.org/bsd/00/03/14/2355207.shtml http://www.freebsd.org/handbook/mirrors-ftp.html Slashdot.org, 000315

>BeOS 5 Available This Month

In further free OS news, Be Inc. confirmed that BeOS 5 Personal Edition, a free version of Be's next operating system release would be available for download on March 28, 2000. According to a company announcement, over 100,00 users have pre-registered on the Be company Web site. http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/000316/ca_be_inco_1.html http://free.be.com Yahoo.com, 000316

>Gnutella Gets Yanked

The programmers at Nullsoft (makers of the the Winamp MP3 player) unveiled a new project this week: Gnutella, an open source version of the popular and controversial Napster utility. Like Napster, Gnutella was designed as a music-trading tool, only with more configurability and additional features to make it "almost impossible for college sysadmins to block." Only one problem - Nullsoft is now owned by AOL. Oops. http://www.cnn.com/2000/TECH/ptech/03/15/gnutella/index.html CNN.com, 000315

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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