COM-based ASP and its successor ASP.NET 1.x integrate HTML and program code to create dynamic, data-driven Web sites. ASP.NET 2.0 has several new features that make it a more powerful Web-development platform. And Microsoft claims that ASP.NET 2.0 reduces the coding required for many common tasks by about 70 percent over ASP.NET 1.1. This month, I profile six of the most important enhancements in ASP.NET 2.0.

New Controls

ASP.NET 2.0 adds more than 50 programming controls, including the GridView control, which supports paging, sorting, and editing of result sets. A DetailsView control lets you work with individual records from the GridView. And TreeView and Menu controls let you display hierarchical data and provide an XML-based Web-site menu structure.

Login Security and Personalization

Creating your own login and personalization routines is one of the most common Web-development tasks. ASP.NET 2.0's new membership classes eliminate the need to create login tables and forms. In addition, the new membership classes support personalization of Web content. And you can store user information in various data sources including SQL Server, Microsoft Access, and even Active Directory (AD).

64-Bit Support and the .NET Framework 2.0

ASP.NET 2.0 can take advantage of the full memory address space of new 64-bit processors and servers that use AMD or Intel x64. Turning your 32-bit ASP.NET 1.x apps into 64-bit apps is easy. You simply copy existing 32-bit ASP.NET applications onto a 64-bit ASP.NET server, where the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) compiles them by using the .NET Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler and executes them as native 64-bit—with no source-code changes.

Web Parts

Following the lead of Windows SharePoint Portal Server, ASP.NET 2.0 can now take advantage of Web Parts, .NET components that let you build applications that users can customize at runtime. Web Parts use ASP.NET 2.0's membership capabilities to enable Web personalization.

Caching

Caching eliminates I/O round trips and improves application responsiveness. However, an unfortunate trade-off is the loss of data currency. ASP.NET 2.0's new caching invalidation solves this problem by automatically updating the data in the cache when the underlying data source changes.

Master Pages

Earlier versions of ASP require you to manually include headers, footers, and menus on all the pages you create. Master pages simplify page creation and standardize your site. With ASP.NET 2.0, you can create a master page, then apply that master to all the pages in your site. And ASP.NET 2.0 master pages aren't limited to static content; you can also use them with ASP.NET controls and Web parts.