ASP.NET 2.0 - Introduction to Web Development with Visual Studio 2005
Date: Friday, September 23, 2005 @ 09:52:37 UTC
Topic: Computers

In July, I was able to see the Visual Studio Team System 2005 features at an all day introduction class.

Here is a link to that article.

Yesterday I attended a seminar introducing web application programming for ASP.NET 2.0. The development tool was Visual Studio 2005. We used the Team system version, but did not cover Team System specific features. The development tool has tools that allow access to IIS and SQL Server directly without having to use their MMC plugins.  Here is what I saw that has made me excited for the new release.

Mike Benkovich gave the presentation and gave us a link to his web site.

See this ASP.NET 2.0 whitepaper too, as it contains similar information:

I may have misunderstood some of the information, as it was like drinking from the fire hydrant. But, here are some of the exciting new features that I saw in Visual Studio 2005 web development.

Mix different programming languages in codebehind pages in the SAME PROJECT.
Previously, a project was language specific. You could have different projects with different languages in the same solution. But now you can have a C# class file, and a VB web page, and a J# web page all together in the same project. This is HUGE. I do not know how many times I have needed to translate sample code from one language to another to fit within a project or separate projects to have a class for code that was too time consuming to translate.

There is a different Compiler model that can compile a single web page instead of the whole assembly into a single DLL.
You can run web pages and alter individual ones, including their codebehind code, without needing to recompile the dll. This allows multiple developers to each work on their own page without a massive compile and replacement of the single binary. Each page has its own assembly and there is no longer a single DLL.

You do not need IIS to run the web pages or develop.
You can create web sites on your local PC and synchronize them with the IIS server when ready. There is even a localhost only personal ASP web server included for debugging code. The Front Page Server Extensions (those _VTI_CNF folders) are no longer needed. VS 2005 uses the contents of the project directory when building and testing a local file system project.

Huge improvements on the HTML editor
The HTML editor itself has so many changes; I can honestly recommend that the $49 list price for the Visual Studio 2005 Web Developer Express edition will be one of the best bargains around. You do not even have to use it to develop code.

There is a WYSIWYG editor for editing HTML pages. There is also no more “code mangling” when switching between Code view and HTML view for web pages. The “Intellisense Everywhere” is quite cool. Although it did not work correctly in the beta for anything other than IE 6.0, when released it will allow HTML tags and options to be used for many different browser standards when editing pages. You could dial in Netscape 4 or the W3 standards. What other reasonably priced HTML page-editing tool has this feature? The tag navigator sets the type to bold for matching beginning and ending HTML tags to help you navigate through complex web pages. There is also an HTML “tidying” feature. There is also a much more sophisticated HTML table editor. The toolbox is available now in HTML view as well as WYSIWYG view.

Master pages
A web page can have a  @ Master directive instead of a  @ Page directive. Each Page can then have a masterpagefile. This master can then contain a control that is filled in by the page. In this way you can keep left panes, headers, footers easily consistent in one design and then just be responsible for coding the content pages.

The My Object
This is huge! I will spare you the details, but it gives you object access to many different things on your computer. T

There can be .skin files which function very much like pre-made Cascading Stylesheets. I predict that skin files will be blossoming all over the net much like PHP-Nuke themes and Windows XP desktop themes.

Built in DHTML/JavaScript controls
This one hit me right in the face: There is a built in Tree menu control that is exactly like the JavaScript app. I have been mucking around with for weeks. It can bind to a data source much like a drop down list. Augh! Also a “breadcrumb” control helps you build the navigation links like “My web site -- Topics -- Computers. I never knew they were called “breadcrumbs” but there you go.

Data Source Control/GridView control
This is a sophisticated data source-linking object sqldatasource, which allows you to build and manipulate the connection strings. It can work in conjunction with the new GridView control that replaces the DataList control. The DataList control is still available. Smarttags are on these controls with detailed configuration dialog boxes. We also saw a demonstration of how stored procedures can be generated from the Data source control.

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