Expert Classic ASP Programming

Posted: November 6, 2017  

The answer comes from our heritage and devotion to a tremendous software development system. C lassic ASP (Active Server Pages) still remains a very powerful, easily-integrated and edited; server-side scripting technology that most programmers would agree has substantially contributed to the success and evolution of database-driven websites for over 20 years now. Unlike the alternative PHP/MySQL platform at the time, when ASP was introduced in the 90’s it was touted as having the distinctive advantage of being easily integrated, and yet fully supported, in the Microsoft Server OS.  Since costly Microsoft ASP/SQL server licensing averted would be supporters, programmers and hosts often reverted to open-source (free) alternatives such as PHP – as cowboys carving out the landscape of the West, eventually leading to the expansion of PHP and its most high-recognized implementation – WordPress, which operates on Linux servers, Apache services, MySQL database, and PHP language (LAMP). 

At ISADEX, we stepped into Classic ASP about the time we started our web development journey in 1997 on our Microsoft platforms. We loved the top-down scripting it offered (VB Script, the underlying language) and its ease of editing. Classic ASP, which prior to ASP.Net, was simply called ASP, allowed us to establish server-side sessions for restricted access to visitor portals. Combine that with database calls (typically Microsoft SQL Server), the results yield a powerful, dynamically-populated, easily edited, and highly expandable online solution which uniquely responds to visitor requests and session authentications. 

Perhaps the greatest advantage, and our continued interest in Classic ASP, is its flexibility given its alignment with our preference to what is now referred to as the AGILE Model of software development, and JBGE methodologies – both which prioritize quick responses to change, inline documentation, streamlined, responsive development and communication between small teams of programmers who need to constantly review, adapt, and revise any project. This process is perfectly suited for teams working together closely in a Classic ASP environment as software solutions can be developed cost-effectively, and adapted easily to clients’ needs. It does not require large-scale developments from isolated experts working on multi-dependent components, something which is often a necessity in .Net. 

There are many other benefits of Classic ASP over ASP.Net. While .Net is highly regarded for it re-use of components, very similar advantages are facilitated by Classic’s method of calling supportive ‘include’ files which can be modified to update an entire website without re-writing every page of code, or compiling and uploading entire project files in batch which destroys visitor sessions. Combine this benefit with page-only edits for quick and isolated revisions, and the simplicity of code-revision is now paired with the reduced risk of modifying a system without having a global consequence. Updates can be written, implemented and tested at the micro-level on a production server without the need to compile and launch global projects. This is the same advantage which contributes to the widespread success of CSS and PHP. Additionally, Classic ASP operates with minimal server intensity as resources are triggered by low-overhead, server-side DLLs rather than the more resource intensive .Net Applications. While an update to .Net, or a .Net project will lead to system-wide interruptions during the migration, a Classic environment upgrade is instant and does not require destroy client sessions or otherwise interrupt traffic and visitor accessibility.  

The typical resistance to Classic ASP is never about its performance of ease of management and updating. It’s always that some feel it is no longer supported by Microsoft.  Interestingly enough, Classic ASP support was a primary reason we chose not to go down the PHP/WP route – as the last I checked no one at PHP is answering the phone!  We also have a hard time trusting software not developed in a controlled corporate environment, or freely downloaded and implemented into a network from an anonymous source as such plug-ins are frequent in WordPress applications. Perhaps I’m old school, but I still appreciate that Microsoft continues to support the .ASP component in their servers, and of course Classic ASP interacts with many database, including our preferred and highly touted Microsoft SQL Server. 

We also like how lightweight Classic is, less stress on the server, no batch ‘projects’ to compile and upload – destroying visitor sessions and having global consequences. I think the biggest challenge to Classic is that it didn’t play nice with large teams of developers working independently on a single project – so Microsoft saw an opportunity to sell project-based software in place of top-down coding and expanding it beyond the web. Younger programmers aren’t learning Classic ASP, and while older generation coders might argue the term ‘.Net’ ‘programming’ is a contradiction in terms, it’s clearly the next evolution. We actually still write code here, every day, and can work directly on the production server, or in a staging environment.

Examples of our experience with Classic ASP over the years include the following:
-    eCommerce | Shopping Carts | Payment Processing
-    CMS Updating of Dynamically Populated Websites
-    Lead Generation / Visitor Registrations | Forms
-    Authenticated Membership Portals, Restricted Access
-    Volunteer/Event Registration & Checkout Processes
-    Job Application Systems
-    Inventory Management
-    Employee/Contractor Compensation Processing
-    CRM | Contact Management
-    Project Management & Time Tracking Systems
-    Decentralized Application Processing & Management
-    Resource Libraries
-    Franchise Replication Systems 
-    Database-Driven Email Communication Systems

In recent years, we continue to benefit from Classic ASP and update our systems to be mobile-responsible with CSS and HTML5. We have considered migration to PHP or .Net entirely, and where relevant do introduce .Net functionality to Classic Projects for items such as batch processing of data imports and related mapping. However, we appreciate the speed and flexibility that comes from a operating in a well-functioning Classic ASP environment supported by jQuery, CSS, HTML5, JavaScript, SQL, and related supporting code. 

As for our clients – they appreciate the distinctive advantage of Classic Programming and its powerful, responsive, application development process which allow them to reach their online objectives within their project’s timeframe and budget.