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How browsers understand ASP.NET web pages?

This chapter explains how browsers display dynamic pages.

There are several several technologies exist to develop dynamic web sites and pages. Some of them are ASP, ASP.NET, PHP etc.

Whatever technology you use to develop the dynamic web pages, a standard browser should be able to display the page to the visitors.

How browsers understand ASP.NET or PHP pages?

If visit any web site, no matter what technology is used to develop the site, your browser will be able to display the page for you.

The only thing a browser can understand is "HTML". It does not know ASP.NET or PHP. So, even if your web site is developed using ASP.NET, still your browser can understand only HTML.

This is how it works:

You type a URL in your browser. (Eg: http://www.aspspider.com/tutorials/Tutorials.aspx?TutorialId=61)

Your browser will compose a request for this page and send to the web server in internet.

The web server analyzes the request and it understands that the request is for an ASP.NET page called "Tutorials.aspx". So, the web server hand over the request to the aspnet service running as part of the web server. (If the page is a .php file, then there must be a php service running on the webserver).

The aspnet service loads the page "Tutorials.aspx". Inside this page, we have written code to read the TutorialId passed as a parameter (parameters are called "Query String"). Our code gets this tutorial id and then retrieves the corresponding content from the database. Then our code embeds this content into the page and returns the dynamically modified page content to the web server.

Web server returns the dynamically generated page to the browser. This dynamically generated page has only HTML in it, even though this html came from database.

When the browser receives the page, it has only HTML. So, as far as a browser is concerned, it does not care what type of web site it is. It can be any technology like ASP.NET or PHP. It is the responsibility of the web server to generate dynamic content from database or wherever and give only HTML page content to the browser.

Other than HTML, what else browsers understand?

We said that browsers understand only HTML. That is not fully true. Modern browsers understand something more than HTML, like Javascript, Flash etc. We will talk about these in the coming chapters.

Next Chapter: How ASP.NET is converted to HTML?
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