ASP.NET 2.0: A Developer's Notebook is organized in eight chapters, with each chapter focusing on a particular set of new features in ASP.NET. In some chapters, the labs can be read independently of each other; in others, it is more logical to read through the labs in sequence, when the material in each lab builds on the previous one. In any case, the examples are structured so that you can learn the concepts very quickly by following the steps outlined.
In Chapter 1, I walk you through the new steps you follow with Visual Studio 2005 to set up ASP.NET 2.0 web applications, and then highlight some of the changes in the new development tool. I also discuss some of the most interesting controls that are new to ASP.NET 2.0. In addition, ASP.NET 2.0 comes with some neat improvements to the old ways of doing things, such as cross-page posting, inserting client script into the page, and more. These new improvements are also covered in this chapter.
In Chapter 2, you will learn about Master Pages, a new feature supported by ASP.NET for visual page inheritance, which is similar to Windows Forms inheritance. With ASP.NET 2.0, you can now create a single Master page that contains the common elements used by the pages of your site. You can then create web pages that inherit from the Master page, to enforce a common look-and-feel across your entire site. In addition to Master Pages, you will also learn how to use the new navigational controls in ASP.NET 2.0. These controls, known as SiteMapPath and Menu, allow you to add navigational links to your site without much coding.
In Chapter 3, you will learn how to create portal web sites using the Web Parts Framework. Web sites today contain a wealth of information, so much so that a poorly designed site can easily overwhelm users. To better help users cope, portal web sites (such as MSN) often organize their data into discrete units that support a degree of personalization. Information is organized into standalone parts and users are allowed to rearrange those parts to suit their individual working styles. Such personalization also lets users hide parts that contain information in which they have no interest. What's more, users can save their settings so that the site will remember their preferences when they return. In ASP.NET 2.0, you can use the new Web Parts Framework to build web portals that offer this kind of modularization of information and personalization.
In Chapter 4, you will learn to use new controls that reduce the coding necessary to do data access. Data access is one of the most common tasks that you're likely to perform when you write web applications. This is evident in the number of new data controls that ship with Visual Studio 2005. One of the most important is the new GridView control, which is a much improved version of the venerable DataGrid control of previous versions (the older DataGrid control is still supported in ASP.NET 2.0, though). In addition, ASP.NET 2.0 ships several new data source controls that make it easier to consume a variety of data sources. In this chapter, you will learn how to use the various new data controlsGridView, DetailsView, and DataListtogether with the new data source controls, such as SqlDataSource, ObjectDataSource, and XmlDataSource. With all these controls, data access is now much easier than before, and you can spend more time working on your business logic.
In Chapter 5, you will discover the new security controls in ASP.NET 2.0 that aim to simplify the life of a developer. Using these new security controls, you can now perform user login, registration, changing of password, and more, with no more effort than dragging-and-dropping controls onto your web form. Powering these new controls are the Membership APIs, which perform the mundane tasks of user management without you having to write your own code. In this chapter, you will learn how the use the new security controls to secure your site. You will also learn about the Membership APIs and how they can be used to perform user administration.
In Chapter 6, you will learn about some of the productivity improvements in ASP.NET 2.0. For example, in ASP.NET 1.x, because pages are dynamically compiled and cached the first time a user loads a page, an ASP.NET 1.x web application is typically slower the first time it is loaded. In ASP.NET 2.0, you can now precompile a site so that it's already compiled when the first user links to it. ASP.NET 2.0 also supports fragment caching, which means that you can cache parts of your page rather then the entire page. Consuming web services is also made easier with the automatic generation of a web proxy class based on a WSDL document. Simply drop a WSDL document into the App_Code folder, and the web proxy class will be automatically generated. Finally, ASP.NET 2.0 includes the Client Callback Manager, which allows you to update your page with information from the server without performing a postback.
In Chapter 7, you will learn how to create personalizable web sites using the Profile service. Personalizing your web site enhances the experiences of your users, by preserving information about visitors so that it can be reused when they come to your site again. In ASP.NET 2.0, the new Profile service gives you a way to store information about your users.
Finally, in Chapter 8, you will learn about how you can maintain a consistent look-and-feel for your web site using themes and skins. In this chapter, you will learn about the new Themes and Skins feature in ASP.NET 2.0 and how you can use it to maintain a consistent user interface for your application. In addition, localization in ASP.NET 2.0 has gotten easier with the new auto-culture handling mechanism. You will learn how to create applications that support multiple cultures.