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Difference between ASP and ASP.NET

This article explains what is ASP.NET and how different it is from ASP.NET

ASP stands for Active Server Pages. ASP.NET is the next generation of ASP. After the introduction of ASP.NET, old ASP is called 'Classic ASP'.

Classic ASP uses vb script for server side coding. Vb Script is not supported any more in ASP.NET. Instead, ASP.NET supports more languages including C#, VB.NET, J# etc. VB.NET is very similar to vb script, so it should be easy for old Visual Basic or ASP programmers to switch to VB.NET and ASP.NET

VB Script is a simple scripting language, where as VB.NET or C# are modern, very powerfull, object oriented programming languages. Just for that reason, you will be able to write much more robust and reliable programs in ASP.NET compared to ASP.

In classic ASP, there was no server controls. You have to write all html tags manually. ASP.NET offers a very rich set of controls called Server Controls and Html Controls. It is very easy to drag and drop any controls to a web form. The VS.NET will automatically write the required HTML tags automatically for you.

ASP is interpreted, ASP.NET is compiled

Since ASP uses vb script, there is no compilation. All ASP pages are interpreted when th page is executed.

ASP.NET uses modern .NET languages like C#, VB.NET etc. They can be compiled to efficient Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL). When you compile an ASP.NET application, the server side code is compiled to assemblies. These assemblies are loaded at run time which makes the ASP.NET pages perform better than classic ASP.


Classic ASP uses a technology called ADO to connect and work with databases. ASP.NET uses the ADO.NET technology (which is the next generation of ADO).

Event driven programming

If you have written Visual Basic programs before, you would love the event driven programming approach. It is so easy to drag and drop a button control and double click on the button to write the event handler for the button click event. When you click on the button at turn time, it will execute whatever code you have written in the event handler.

This type of event driven programming was not available with classic ASP. You cannot drag and drop a button and write a 'on click' event handler with ASP.

With ASP.NET, this is changed. It works pretty much like your Visual Basic program. You can write event handlers for several events like button click event, text changed event etc.

However, there is big difference between the way event handling works in regular Visual basic and ASP.NET. In ASP.NET, a page is loaded in the client browser. And the server may be in another location (may be in another country). When you click on the button in an ASP.NET page, the 'click event' handler has to be executed on the server, not on the client.

How does the server know when you click on a button your browser? This is a tricky thing in ASP.NET. When you write an event handler for a button lick or something like that in ASP.NET, lot of things happens behind the screens. ASP.NET will produce lot of client side javascript code to handle this and embed this javascript in the html page it sends to the browser. When you click on the button in the browser, the client side javascript will get executed. This javascript will generate some information required for the server and and submit the page request to the server. There is enough information embedded in this request so that the server will understand that user has clicked a specific button in the browser and it has to execute some 'specific event handler' code in the server side. So, when the user clicks on a button, the page is submitted automatically to the server with some special information. In the server side, it will process the event handler for the button click event and send back the output page to the browser again. Similary, you can write other event handlers like text changed event for Textboxes etc.

As a user of the web page, you will not even know what happened in the background. All you can see is, when you clicked the button, it executed the button click event handler in the server side and you got the result. However, you may notice a delay because the page has to be submitted to the server to execute the event handler.

NOTE: The event handling we just discussed is server side event handling. In addition to that, you can handle any events in the client side using Javascript. This is supported even in classic ASP. The client side event handling is used for simpel client side validation, displaying messages to the user etc. You cannot do any server side programming in client side java script (like accessing the database etc).

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