If you are like me, Classic ASP (Active Server Pages) still remains in the toolbox, standing by for that next 'simple' project. Or maybe there's a web app you would like to write in .Net, but you need to prototype business logic with a simple UI? In my opinion, Classic ASP fits the bill.
ASP.dll - cute little guy... It all started way back when - we needed a way to dynamically create web pages. Many stepped up to the plate before Microsoft to address this challenge. In fact I worked closely with a company that did it very well back in 1995. They were called Internet Factory, and their web server was state of the art and used server side scripting not unlike the original ASP 1.0 released by Microsoft in 1996; I still have the install of Internet Factory, so if you would like to see it, let me know. Anyway, ASP with IIS, along with others, helped to shape the internet into something more than just marked up text - and web apps were born, as we call them today.
So time passes, and coding techniques changed. As a result, ASP became the 'bad son' and has almost been pushed out of the limelight completely - enter ASP.Net. But I continue to use it, and so do countless thousands. So why is it going away - is ASP.Net that much better, or have we been taken on a free ride in Microsoft's marketing time machine? Here is a statement from Microsoft in 1997, "Active Server Pages allows you to quickly bring your existing skills and knowledge, data sources, components, and applications to the Web. Other tools create either static HTML or lock you into a non-standard programming model or language. ASP is based upon the leading industry standards, making it easy to build, maintain, and evolve powerful interactive Web applications." Apparently ASP worked fine in 1997 for many of the largest billion dollar companies in the world. But for some reason it just stopped working for them...or did it?
Classic ASP is still powering major websites - for example HP still uses it. But more than likely they are replacing it slowly. But here is my point. In 1997, this useable, stable, workable technology was, in Microsoft's words "...making it easy to build, maintain, and evolve powerful interactive Web applications." Exactly! And it still does in 2010; you do know that software doesn't age and start forgetting its own name as time goes on, don't you... So let's look at some of the great characteristics of Classic ASP.
- It's light weight - 380 KB
- It's still supported - The newest version of IIS (7.5) supports this in 32bit mode.
- Lots and lots of help and code snippits exist.
- It uses VBScript for it's language - easy to learn and fun to write
- No need to declare variables
- VBScript is case insensitive
- No compilling necessary
- Is akin to PHP, which still makes it relevant for most small web projects today
Let Me Be Clear
While Classic ASP is still relevant and very useful, it has many disadvantages in this modern world of object oriented programming; more about that in another post. But what I am laying down here is very simple: Use it when you feel it will allow you to get something done sooner than later - don't go with .Net just because it is newer and has been labeled the so called replacement. Time is software's nemesis - the longer it takes to get a working version up, the quicker it loses it's potency due to competition, scope creep ensues, people lose interest in waiting, and longer coding sessions means you are less and less productive. Ultimately it is up to you, but I will keep using Classic ASP in certain projects until it is no longer supported in IIS. Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned on an objective review of the .Net framework.