ASP, ASP .NET, ASP .NET AJAX - A brief history

Published Sunday, July 20, 2008 5:15 PM

Image of history of science and industry. Used for history of asp, asp .net and asp .net AJAX

Before 1995, creating and maintaining a website was insufferable. You had to go about every bit of changes manually. If you have 40 books, to put out the information of these 40 books, you had to write out 40 pages. Web pages at those times cannot do anything at all except static information display. Those were ancient times in the internet era.

In 1996, at the height of internet bubble, Microsoft released ASP (Active server pages) to dynamically generate htmls, thus joining forces with PHP. PHP was released one year earlier and has become the most popular web development languages. ASP uses vbscript as it is fundation script language.

In 2000, the technology heavy NASDAQ Composite index more than doubled its value a year before. Internet bubble climaxed and soon after bursted at full speed. Around this time, Microsoft quietly (so quiet because it had no idea of its potential and impact) developed XMLHttpRequest as a server side API call. It can be accessed through any browser supporting script language on the client side.

In the midst of reeling from internet company bankranptcies, closing-downs and start-ups, XMLHttpRequest did not make a stir.

In 2001, .NET framework was out. Almost immediately after, Microsoft rolled out ASP .net 1.x, led by Scott Gutherie (dubbed by some as the ASP .NET god). ASP .NET represents a complete breakout from the old web development model, it now shoves every tasks, big or small, to the server. State management? to the server; user management? Post to the server. Every button click, image hover, ... are now heroically handled by the server.

Even god can be imperfect and has to constantly reinvent himself. ASP .net 1.x leaves much to be desired and was met with limited success. So the asp .net team went behind the scene to produce better frameworks and better .net.

In Nov. 2005, ASP .NET 2.0 was rolled out. It is a powerful, powerful web development tool, equipped with many built in systems and tools, master pages, membership and profile systems.

However, during this periods, the gods of the internet have become the free styling, elite Google developers. How they have changed the landscapes and internet cultures.

In 2004, Google released a web mail application GMail, seduced almost everyone with more than 2 gigebytes of storage space. Before that, it released adsense, acquired Blogger, launched google toolbar, covered the world with Google news ... the online world is a Google world, "Google" became an official verb. "Have you googled?" ...

GMail's success owes a great deal of thanks to the once annoymous XMLHttpRequest api invented by Microsoft. By constantly pooling server data from the client side and seamlessly update information, GMail provides fast pleasant user experience.

Google Maps soon followed suit. Google uses XmlHttpRequest brazenly and breathtakingly. Google Maps now the most cherished and widely used product of the world.  

The programming world went head over toes about XmlHttpRequest.  When AJAX was coined in 2005, it immediately took off.

Now everything on the web has to be AJAX-ed, because we want the world by our fingertips, we want it fast. 

Still bathing in the sunshine of success of ASP .NET 2.x, the ASP .NET team was thrown back and and set them to immediate action by the runaway with AJAX of the programming world. 

In 2007, after a lengthy test period, Microsoft rolled out ASP .NET AJAX as an extension of ASP .NET 2.0. It does not resemble ASP .NET 2.0 much by extension, though. Spotlight again has shifted from server side classes, controls to client side components and scripts.

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