Lesson 1: What is Active Server Pages (ASP)

Whenever anyone is learning ASP, the most common questions that first come up are: What is ASP? And how does it work?

It is precisely these questions we will look at in this lesson. It's a big help to understand such basics related to ASP before you start developing you own ASP pages. Such basic understanding will increase the speed of learning significantly. So, let's get started!

What is ASP?

As you can see by the title, ASP is an acronym for Active Server Pages.

ASP is developed by Microsoft. It is not really a standard ASP is neither a real programming language nor is it a programming language, but it's a Microsoft technology that lets you use so-called scripting in your documents.

To describe what an ASP page is, you could say that it is a file with the extension .asp that contains a combination of HTML tags and scripts that run on a web server.

How does ASP work?

The best way to explain how ASP works is by comparing it with standard HTML. Imagine you type the address of an HTML document (eg. http://www.mysite.com/page.htm) in the address line of the browser. This way you request an HTML page. It could be illustrated like this:

The figure shows a client that requests an HTML file from a server

As you can see, the server simply sends an HTML file to the client. But if you instead type http://www.mysite.com/page.asp - and thus request an ASP page - the server is put to work:

The figure shows a client that requests an ASP file from a server

The server first reads the ASP file carefully to see if there are any tasks that need to be executed. Only when the server has done what it is supposed to do, the result is then sent to the client. It is important to understand that the client only sees the result of the server's work - not the actual instructions.

This means that if you click "view source" on an ASP page, you do not see the ASP codes - only basic HTML tags. Therefore, you can not see how an ASP page is made by using "view source". You have to learn ASP in other ways, for example, by reading this tutorial.

What you learn in this tutorial is to write commands to a server!

So, the first thing you need to get hold of is... a server! But don't worry - you don't need to buy a new computer. You just need to install some software on your computer that makes it function as a server. Another option is to have a website on a hosted server that supports ASP. Then you just need to be online while coding.

The next lesson is about how to get your computer to act as a server.

<< Introduction

Lesson 2: Servers >>