By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2010-04-23 Print this article Print

ASP.NET has many improvements as well. For starters, the caching mechanism has been improved to include cache provider extensions, letting you (or a third party) create, as the documentation says, "more intelligent output-caching strategies for Websites." And if you've worked on Website development at all, then you know just how important this is for keeping a fast, optimal Web server.

Next up with ASP.NET is a possible fix to something that's been a bit of a gripe of mine for some time. In the past, if an ASP.NET server was sitting idle for a while, after the first request it would take quite a while for the server to wake back up. This can be embarrassing for a business for many reasons: The Web server may appear slow to a potential customer, or, worse, if the customer is tech-savvy, he or she may recognize that nobody has been to the site for as little as a few minutes or as much as days or weeks. To help fix this problem, the new version of ASP.NET supports preloading of Web applications, provided you're using IIS (Internet Information Services) 7.5 on at least a Windows Server 2008 R2. (An upgrade may be in your future.)

Additional improvements include permanently redirecting a page, sessions state compression, enhancements to the way CSS is handled and even embedding view state for individual controls, which gives you more power over which controls maintain their view state. Additionally, the HttpBrowserCapabilities class has been updated to recognize several newer browsers, including the iPhone browser, so that you can write code that displays differently based on these browsers.

For LINQ programmers using ASP.NET, there's also a new QueryExtender control to help you with filters and WHERE clauses. Additionally, MVC is now built in, instead of an extra download.

And here's an interesting improvement: dynamic data and scaffolding. This isn't actually new, but was introduced two years ago with the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions as a separate download. But what is new is that it's now built into Visual Studio 2010 and ready for you to use. It's interesting because it allows you to quickly generate an ASP.NET application that features grid controls with direct access to the data. But is this very useful?

Initially, not really. I would hope that an ASP.NET programmer wouldn't just throw together this default application and deliver it as-is. It's ugly and not at all user-friendly, and it makes it too easy for the users to destroy the data. So what's the point? Well, you can go in and modify the templates and add on to the code and build an application from this, which is what I suspect Microsoft actually has in mind; from there you could create a more useful application. I'd be curious to see what kind of applications developers come up with. However, I should note that the whole thing is still very much traditional ASP.NET, in that the grids aren't AJAX-powered.

Jeff Cogswell is the author of Designing Highly Useable Software ( among other books and is the owner/operator of CogsMedia Training and Consulting.Currently Jeff is a senior editor with Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to joining Ziff, he spent about 15 years as a software engineer, working on Windows and Unix systems, mastering C++, PHP, and ASP.NET development. He has written over a dozen books.

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