Welcome to this ASP.NET tutorial. According to Microsoft, "ASP.NET is a technology for building powerful, dynamic Web applications and is part of the .NET Framework". This tutorial will teach you ASP.NET from scratch, and no knowledge of any kind of serverside scripting is required. Basic HTML and CSS knowledge is preferable. Having worked with Classic ASP or PHP won't give you much of an advantage, since ASP.NET is a whole new way of doing things.
.NET is language independent, which means you can use any .NET supported language to make .NET applications. The most common languages for writing ASP.NET applications are C# and VB.NET. While VB.NET is directly based VB (Visual Basic), C# was introduced together with the .NET framework, and is therefore a some what new language. Some people call C# "the .NET language", but according to Microsoft, you can do all the same things, no matter if you're using C# or VB.NET. The 2 languages are not that different, and if you have used one of them, you will have no problems at all learning the other. In this tutorial we will use C#.
One of the main differences between ASP.NET and Classic ASP/PHP is the fact that ASP.NET is compiled, while Classic ASP is always interpreted. PHP can be compiled by using commercial products, but usually it's interpreted as well.
This tutorial will use the free Visual Web Developer IDE from Microsoft. Despite what some people think, ASP.NET can be used without an IDE. It would be perfectly possible to write ASP.NET code in Notepad, and use the commandline compiler included with the .NET framework. Some people might actually prefer this "back to basics" way of doing things, but I believe that ASP.NET is best programmed with a decent IDE. You can use an IDE from another vendor, and you will still be able to follow most of this tutorial. We will use VWD 2008 since it's free, quick to install and easy to use. Besides, using a good IDE will make a lot of things faster in the long run.
Now, you can read more about VWD 2008 on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/express/vwd/Default.aspx and download it from this page: http://www.microsoft.com/express/download/. The initial download is very small, because the installation is based on which components you already have and which will have to be downloaded. Just execute the file, and you will be guided through the installation. Once installed, start up the application, and proceed to the next chapter. -------------------------------------------------
Your first website
With MS Visual Web Developer installed, we're ready to create our first ASP.NET website. In VWD, this is very easy. Open the File menu and select "New Web Site". You will be presented with the following dialog:
You need to select "ASP.NET Web Site", if it's not already selected. You should also name your new site. This is done by entering a name in the Location box. This text box is probably already filled for you, with the last part being something like "Website1". You can choose to accept this, as well as the location of the project, or you can enter a new one, like I did. I have created a folder, "My Websites", and within this folder, I would like to create the new project with the name of "FirstWebSite". For now, this is less important, but later on you might wish to gather all your projects in a specific folder.
This tutorial will focus on the C# language. Once again, no knowledge of this is required, so if you already know another .NET language, you will get to learn some C# with this tutorial as well. Select C# in the Language dropdown. Now, click the Ok button to create this new website.
VWD will create a very basic website for you, consisting only of a Default.aspx file (and it's partner, the Default.aspx.cs file) and an App_Data folder. I will explain this later, but for now, just accept the fact that they are there. We will only use the...