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Joel on Software

Painless upgrade to .Net

I have a big, stable and easy to maintain ASP application running on a W2k/IIS5 server. I use ADO to access my SQL Server 2000 plus some ATL/VB COM servers to handle all business logic. Now that I finally have some free time, I would like to learn more about .Net framework.

1. If I just install .Net framework, everything will continue to work? I read this on

2. COM servers updates are really that easy with ASP.NET?

3. ADO will be upgraded to ADO.NET?

4. Is everything really free? :) I mean, I just need VS.Net if I want a good IDE for ASP, C# adn VB.Net?


Wanderley M
Sunday, September 29, 2002

1. ASP.NET processes a different set of page extensions than ASP does. So when you install ASP.NET on an existing ASP server, the existing stuff does indeed just keep working. They're two different applications. (Corollary: you can't easily share state between ASP pages and ASP.NET pages).

2. Not entirely sure what you're asking here. You can call COM servers from .NET code, or .NET servers from COM code. There is however pretty substantial overhead to the wrapper layers involved, and if you're doing complex things with your COM interfaces, it may not work.

3. ADO and ADO.NET are two entirely different things. ADO doesn't upgrade to ADO.NET -- that is, ADO.NET doesn't magically replace your existing ADO code. Expect to need to do substantial rewriting to translate code which currently uses ADO into code that uses ADO.NET.

4. You can indeed get enough bits to build ASP.NET applications for free by installing just the .NET Framework SDK. This includes all the libraries and command-line compilers. Working with this stuff is a lot easier with an IDE, though.

Mike Gunderloy
Sunday, September 29, 2002


Thanks for your input. When I asked about COM server updates, I read somewhere that I do not need to stop my IIS server anymore. Is that true?

Anyway, you answered what I was looking for. I'll install .Net Framework and start to update my .asp pages, including all ADO code. I think I'll learn a lot this way.



Wanderley M
Sunday, September 29, 2002

IIS doesn't require restarts to update your apps.  However, I believe that COM objects are still locked.  The thing is that COM is obsolete, so...

Now, you'd compile your "COM Server" (library) into an assembly (in this case, a DLL) and reference it from your ASP.NET app (which you can compile into its own assembly).  If you need to update to update things, then just copy the new DLLs over the old and you're done.

Updating .asp to .aspx isn't really renaming and syntax changes.  While this is a quick way to get things running on .NET, it doesn't really use the nice event/control-based model of ASP.NET.

You should look at Web Matrix on -- its a free ASP.NET editor from Microsoft, and provides some minimum features without having to pay for VS.NET.

Michael Giagnocavo
Sunday, September 29, 2002

Don't bother learning or upgrading to .NET, because it's really nothing but vaporware.  In fact, one might say (someone who "knows" Microsoft) it's worse than vaporware...

Don't put too much faith in ADO.NET and ASP.NET... they're all good stuff, but just _incremental improvements_ !

Guy Incognito
Sunday, September 29, 2002

That article Guy is referring to is over two years old. At the time it was vaporware; now I assure you .NET is very real, and very useful.

ASP.NET is a significant improvement on ASP, and it's fairly easy to get into. Give it a try.


Chris Tavares
Monday, September 30, 2002

Upgrading things without stopping the IIS server is indeed much easier in .NET. Basically, ASP.NET takes the copies of the files that you uploaded and does its own just-in-time compilation to shadow copies. If you chance the source files, it notices the change, and recompiles the shadow. This does have the side effect of wiping application & session state at that point, though, so even though the server keeps running there's an impact on users.

And no, .NET is not vaporware. I've got sites running using ASP.NET and ADO.NET right now. Silly rabbit...

Mike Gunderloy
Monday, September 30, 2002

Reread Joel's old article.
He calls the new ASP an "incremental improvement".  Later there is a new article:

Michael Giagnocavo
Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Thanks for the comments/suggestions - I'm installing everything right now. I'll post another message later about my results.


Wanderley M
Wednesday, October 2, 2002

If your looking for a low cost alternative to VS.NET for developing Windows Forms applications, check out #develop:

I haven't used it since an early beta, but it appears to have a strong set of features:

Completely written in C#
Compile C# and VB.NET in the IDE out-of-the-box
Open source, GPL licensed
Lightweight IDE
Code completion
Forms designer
User interface translated to many languages
Everything templated: add new project or file types, or even compilers to SharpDevelop

Guy Incognito
Wednesday, October 2, 2002

If you choose which language you want to use (C#, VB or VC++), you can go out and buy the VS.NET compiler for the language of your choice for $100.  I'm sure that it comes with the .NET framework, not sure about ASP.NET, though...

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

The 'Standard' editions of VB.NET and C# should probably be relabled as 'learning' editions; MS didn't include enough with them to make them useful for anything beyond that.

I'm pretty sure the only project templates they come with are Windows Application. ASP.NET Web Application, and possibly some setup projects. Which is to say there aren't templates for class libraries, windows services, web services, or even command-line apps. There's no designer support for databases other than SQL Server. The VB6 upgrade wizard isn't included (may be a blessing rather than a curse, according to some reports).

So I'd strongly recommend getting a full version of VS.NET, or using a third-party tool if you're comfortable doing non-Web apps in a pure-code mode.

Dave Rothgery
Monday, October 7, 2002

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