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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) December 16, 1999


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1. FEATURED ARTICLE: 10 Reasons to Develop in ASP 2. NET NEWS: * Attention Discount Surfers * Security Flaw Discovered in Netscape Mail * Windows 2000: It's done - Finally * Intel announcing 750MHz, 800MHz PIIIs? * Sun Offers Linux Directly to Customers * Sun imposes Java Branding Royalty


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This week, writer Alan Mendelevich gives us a ten point introduction to ASP development.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. FEATURED ARTICLE: 10 Reasons to Develop in ASP

Active Server Pages are a server-side scripting technology primary developed to work under IIS (Internet Information Server) on Windows NT Server (3rd party products exist enabling the use of ASP on other server platforms). ASP enables the server to deliver dynamic, database driven content to the client with minimal effort.

The goal of this article is not to move developers from other wonderful technologies to ASP, but to explain the advantages of Active Server Pages to Web designers, programmers and anyone interested in Web development. ASP is not my first server-side scripting technology. I was developing with Netscape Server-Side JavaScript, Borland IntraBuilder and Oracle Web Application Server before I moved to ASP. Now I'm an ASP developer, and I will try to explain why I think ASP is currently the best choice for general Web developer.

>Ease of Use

Active Server Pages are plain HTML pages with ASP code embedded into them enclosed in <% and %> tags. You just place ASP files into a directory on the server with scripting or execute permissions and your ASPs are ready to run. Whenever you need to change something you just edit the .asp files and that's it, your changes are applied.

>Language Independence

ASP is a scripting engine enabling you to develop in virtually any language of your choice. The two languages available by default are VBScript and JScript (Microsoft's version of JavaScript); however, modules for Perl, Python and other languages already exist and there are virtually no limits for support for other languages to be implemented. This enables the novice ASP developer to utilize his or her previous programming experience. If you have ever programmed in Visual Basic or VBA (the version of Visual Basic used in the MSOffice suite), you will have no problems starting with VBScript. If you're familiar with JavaScript, then JScript is your choice. Unix gurus will find that Perl can be used readily.

>Short Learning Curve

As you have seen, you may use your current expertise in some programming language or technology to jump into ASP in short time. Even if you know only HTML, it will not be difficult for you to learn how to insert ASP commands into your HTML files. Why, you ask? Just keep reading....

>Tons of Information

There are currently more than 150 sites listed in Open Directory's ASP category. This is more than for any other server-side development engine or language. Lots of online magazines will deliver new articles on ASP to your mailbox on a weekly or even daily basis. There's a lot of resources out there for ASP, folks.

>Huge Community

There are plenty of professional ASP developers ready to answer your questions in numerous ASP newsgroups and forums. For instance, on the day I write this article, there are more than 50 new threads in the microsoft.public.inetserver.asp.general newsgroup alone.


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>Low Cost of Ownership

This mainly applies to site owner, not directly to the developer. Nowadays it's easier to find an NT administrator and ASP developer than a UNIX guru. You may think that for you as a developer, this isn't a compelling reason to use ASP. However, low cost and abundance of support is just one more reason you can give to your employer/customer as to why they should do business with you. You can explain that they won't get left high and dry if one day you decide to part company, so while you're with them they will feel safe and satisfied.


There are virtually no limits to what can be done with ASP thanks to unlimited extensibility provided via COM components. This approach, in my opinion, is a key success factor of ASP. For example, there's no way to send email using standard ASP functions but there are lots of components (both free and commercial) enabling you to do this, as well as chosing the methods and features you want implemented. Recent introduction of Java Server Pages - an ASP style scripting language developed to work in conjunction with server-side Java, shows that the approach is recognized as powerful by one of the biggest Microsoft competitors, Sun Microsystems.


Hosting companies widely support ASP. A search on HostIndex (http://www.hostindex.com/) returned 889 matches for hosting companies supporting ASP with hosting prices starting below $10. This is quite enough to find the host that meets all your needs for a reasonable price and you will be able to switch hosting companies easily if your current doesn't satisfy you.


Microsoft has two tools supporting ASP: their most popular WYSIWYG editor - FrontPage (though I would not personally recommend it for ASP editing) and Visual InterDev. Other vendors have also implemented ASP support into their products, including the popular HTML coding package HomeSite from Allaire (http://www.allaire.com). There's also scheduled support for ASP in upcoming versions of other widely-used code based editors, such as HotDog Pro from Sausage Software (http://www.sausage.com/).

>You Can Get a Good Job

A search for ASP on high tech job search engine dice.com (http://www.dice.com) returned more than 10000 matches with average salary around $70K. I think it will be hard for you to chose the best from such a quantity, but very simple to find good one.

There are of course more reasons to develop in ASP, but I hope these ten were enough to convince you that developing in ASP can make your life happier and get you to the next level of your career.

For additional information on ASP, take a look at:

* The ABC's of Active Server Pages http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/server/asp/ASPover.asp

* ASP Overview: http://www.wdvl.com/Software/Tools/ASP.html

* General ASP resource sites: http://www.aspwatch.com/ http://www.asptoday.com/

About the author:

Alan Mendelevich is Bachelor of Computer Science and Microsoft Certified Professional in the fields of IIS and MS SQL Server. He lives in Lithuania, and currently spends most of his time working on ArticleCentral.com - The Content Directory for Web Professionals (http://www.articlecentral.com/). He is also Webmaster at MEGOPhotos (http://www.megopolis.com/photos/). In his free time, he enjoys playing with his little daughter Daniela.


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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. NET NEWS: Attention Discount Surfers, Security Flaw Discovered in Netscape Mail, Windows 2000: It's Done - Finally, Intel Announcing 750MHz, 800MHz PIIIs?, Sun Offers Linux Directly to Customers, Sun Imposes Java Branding Royalty

>Attention Discount Surfers

A slew of alliances between major Web players and retailers began to take shape this week as Yahoo!, America Online and Microsoft struck deals with U.S. retail chains, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Circuit City. Both the Yahoo/Kmart and AOL/Wal-Mart alliances are focused on creating co-branded ISP services, while the AOL/Circuit City and Microsoft/Best Buy pacts are driven by cooperative advertising and marketing. http://www.internetnews.com/isp-news/article/0,1087,8_260971,00.html http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/19991216/wr/kmart_internet_4.html http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-1498191.html InternetNews.com, Yahoo.com, CNET.com, 991216

>Security Flaw Discovered in Netscape Mail

Reliable Software Technologies reports a flaw in the popular Netscape Mail utility that may compromise users' passwords. The software company said it discovered a way to decipher encrypted passwords by duplicating the algorithm used to scramble them. In some versions of Netscape, the company said that the scrambled passwords can even be retrieved remotely using JavaScript. http://www.internetnews.com/prod-news/article/0,1087,9_260091,00.html InternetNews.com, 991215

>Windows 2000: It's Done - Finally

Over a year late, Microsoft's long-awaited OS will be released to manufacturing today. The Feb. 17 launch date is still on. Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday it finished work on its long-awaited Windows 2000 operating system, wrapping up a long and painful development project that also represents Microsoft's best hope of dominating Internet computing. http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2409534,00.html ZDNet.com, 991215

>Intel Announcing 750MHz, 800MHz PIIIs?

Intel Corp. could unwrap a surprise holiday present for computer users as early as Monday with the announcement of a 750MHz Pentium III and perhaps even an 800MHz version. The moves would mark an acceleration in Intel's Pentium III rollout schedule, a nod to increasing pressure from rival chip maker AMD. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/zd/19991215/tc/19991215071.html Yahoo.com, 991215

>Sun Offers Linux Directly to Customers

Sun has upped the ante in its fledgling Linux support by directly offering the operating system to customers. The move marks a slight warming in Sun's attitude toward Linux. Sun has credited Linux with helping to undermine Microsoft's dominance, but it hasn't been offering Linux-certified systems the way several other competitors have. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-1496946.html CNET.com, 991215

>Sun Imposes Java Branding Royalty

Amid much grumbling by developers, Sun has started charging Java vendors a "branding" fee for labeling their products with the latest advance in Java, known as Java 2 Enterprise Edition. http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2407961,00.html ZDNet, 991213

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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