This book is designed for programmers who need to know how to program a Web application. If you are a programmer and/or Web designer who has some experience with VBScript or ColdFusion, you will get a lot out of this book. Even if you're not, there is enough in here to get you started. To get the most out of this book, it is recommended that you have experience using a programming language such as Visual Basic 6.0. Some experience with Visual Basic .NET would be helpful, but it's not required. You should also be familiar with relational database concepts and have access to the Northwind sample database that comes with SQL Server and Access. You must be familiar with Windows 2000, or later, and have access to Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP to effectively use this book. Familiarity with IIS is also recommended, because this book will assume you know how to set up virtual directories in IIS.
You will need several tools at your disposal so you can try out the many exercises contained in this book. Here is a list of the tools you should have on your computer:
Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 or later or Microsoft Access
The Northwind sample database, which comes with SQL Server and Access
Microsoft Windows 2000, or XP
Microsoft .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) Framework SDK
Microsoft Visual Studio .NET
Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (optional)
Getting and Running .NET
The .NET Framework and the Visual Studio .NET IDE can both be purchased from many vendors, including directly from Microsoft. Although the .NET Framework will run on Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98 second edition, and Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), you'll need to have Windows NT with Service Pack 6, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows .NET Server in order to develop applications. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later is required. For server-side installs, Microsoft Data Access Components 2.7 is required. You need at least a PII 450MHz processor with a minimum of 128MB of RAM and at least 800x600 resolution.
You will find that you need at least a PIII 650MHz processor with 384MB of RAM or better to be really productive. The more memory you have, the better off you will be. Given the choice, adding memory should have a higher priority than upgrading your processor.
Making the Most of This Book
To download the examples discussed in this book, and to find updates and fixes, visit our Web site, www.pdsa.com/aspnetjumpstart Because this book focuses on building an application that looks and feels like a simple business-oriented Web site, you'll get the flavor of the types of issues that will affect every ASP.NET developer. Rather than focusing on features or technology, we've focused on tasks and solutions. Although there may be other ways to accomplish some of the techniques we've proposed in this book, given the examples shown here, you'll have a running head start toward building your own sites and applications.
We suggest that you work your way through this book, from start to finish. There may be some chapters along the way that cover material you're already familiar with (for example, the chapters on HTML and XML). In that case, skim on past. Don't worry about missing out on steps in building the sample application we've included, along with the sample application, a finished version of the application after each chapter. If you skip a chapter, you can simply copy the contents of the finished version for the chapter into your working folder. (See Chapter 1, "Getting Started with the Sample Application," for more details.) In a perfect world, after working through the examples in each chapter, you would take the time to review the documentation on the objects and techniques covered and then add your own functionality to the application.