Active Server Pages: What are Active Server Pages?


What Are Active Server Pages?

Active Server Pages (ASPs) are Web pages that contain server-side scripts in addition to the usual mixture of text and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) tags. Server-side scripts are special commands you put in Web pages that are processed before the pages are sent from your Personal Web Server to the Web browser of someone who's visiting your Web site. . When you type a URL in the Address box or click a link on a Web page, you're asking a Web hosting server on a computer somewhere to send a file to the Web browser (sometimes called a "client") on your computer. If that file is a normal HTML file, it looks exactly the same when your Web browser receives it as it did before the Web server sent it. After receiving the file, your Web browser displays its contents as a combination of text, images, and sounds.

In the case of an Active Server Page, the process is similar, except there's an extra processing step that takes place just before the Web server sends the file. Before the Web server sends the Active Server Page to the Web browser, it runs all server-side scripts contained in the page. Some of these scripts display the current date, time, and other information. Others process information the user has just typed into a form, such as a page in the Web site's guestbook.

To distinguish them from normal HTML pages, Active Server Pages are given the ".asp" extension.

What Can You Do with Active Server Pages?

There are many things you can do with Active Server Pages.

What Do Active Server Pages Look Like?

The appearance of an Active Server Page depends on who or what is viewing it. To the Web browser that receives it, an Active Server Page looks just like a normal HTML page. If a visitor to your Web site views the source code of an Active Server Page, that's what they see: a normal HTML page. However, the file located in the server  looks very different. In addition to text and HTML tags, you also see server-side scripts. This is what the Active Server Page looks like to the Web server before it is processed and sent in response to a request.

What Do Server-Side Scripts Look Like?

Server-side scripts look a lot like HTML tags. However, instead of starting and ending with lesser-than ( < ) and greater-than ( > ) brackets, they typically start with <% and end with %>. The <% is called an opening tag, and the %> is called a closing tag. In between these tags are the server-side scripts. You can insert server-side scripts anywhere in your Web page--even inside HTML tags.

Do You Have to Be a Programmer to Understand Server-Side Scripting?

There's a lot you can do with server-side scripts without learning how to program. For this reason, much of the online Help for Active Server Pages is written for people who are familiar with HTML but aren't computer programmers.

 

Tutorial home page