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Learning Asp In 2 Days

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Christopher Atkins

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User since: 08 Jun 1999

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So, you've got two days to learn enough ASP to sit in a cubicle and start building sites with it. You've got all the requisite design skills, you know HTML like the back of your hand, and you optimize SQL queries in your sleep (loser). If you are reading this article, you probably have your own reasons why you should use ASP. The only problem is your knowledge of ASP leaves you wondering why people keep naming technologies after snakes...

I was in a similar position as you; I had two days to become fluent in ASP and ADO. I pulled it off, and to my surprise I found it relatively easy. I had some Visual Basic experience so that helped me with the syntax. If you've never used Visual Basic, don't fret, the syntax was designed to be easy to pick up and the scripting edition (VBscript- what most folks write ASP in) is even easier.

These are the things, in order, that I did to ramp up:

(If you don't really know what ASP is then read this introduction from Webmonkey.)

First, familiarize yourself with Visual InterDev. Sitting down with someone that uses it everyday is probably the best way. At least, that's what I did. Some people extol the virtues of doing everything in Notepad/SimpleText, but for the rank beginner, auto-completion and help files can provide a great deal of comfort and much needed assistance. If you can't get a hold of InterDev or find someone who won't mind you looking over their shoulder, your battle isn't over- you'll just have to fight harder.

Your next step is to learn ASP's (VBscript) syntax- here I used ASP 2.0 Programmer's Reference from WROX. The authors do a good job of painting the big picture as well as giving wonderfully applicable example code. It may seem intimidating at first, but keep plugging. Unlike most technical books, this one is well organized and easily absorbed. Despite reviewer and publisher claims to the contrary, I feel this book does a good job of actually introducing ASP as a technology. I recommend reading chapters 1-6 (covering most of ASP), skip chapter 7 (discussing creating components for ASP), and finish up with chapter 8 (intro to ADO). The book also has a handy-dandy reference card in the very front. I feel obligated to mention that WROX also has Professional ASP 3.0- a large and expensive tome that may or may not be of more use to you.

The other major hurdle is learning the fundamentals of ADO. I used another WROX book for this purpose, ADO 2.0 Programmer's Reference. While you'll see a lot of examples using ADO in the ASP book, this book goes a bit more in depth into ADO besides being a great general reference (again with some great example code). While in the beginning you'll find yourself mostly referring to the ASP book, this ADO book is an invaluable reference to have around. WROX has an updated version ADO 2.1 Programmer's Reference, which upon a cursory examination seems to be an improved and updated version of the book I used.

An important part of ramping up quickly is judiciously deciding what material you really need to cover. If you have ever crammed for an exam this process should be familiar to you. In the course of reading through these books, what I did was to try to create an example application- a practice test if you will. The important thing is to really work through the examples you find. Committing the syntax to memory is a simple task if you actively use it. ASP can be parsed by IIS- available in the Windows NT Option pack, as well as PWS (Personal Web Server)- available on the Windows 98 install disk and with FrontPage.

Now, hit the web:

Beginner's Tips from 4Guys:
Some of these are no-brainers, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.

Intermediate Tips from 4Guys:
Advanced folks may dispute a couple of these but the rationale will lead to insight.

I also made use of their FAQ when I started out.

Can you tell I really like 4GuysfromRolla? For a more complete list of ASP sites, check out this page of ASP links. Don't forget- you'll always have thelist. ;)

If you've made it this far, you are now officially an ASP guru. Yeah, right! But you are on your way...

Good Luck and Happy Coding!

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