Welcome to this ASP.NET tutorial. According to Microsoft, "ASP.NET is a technology for building powerful, dynamic Web applications and is part of the .NET Framework". This tutorial will teach you ASP.NET from scratch, and no knowledge of any kind of serverside scripting is required. Basic HTML and CSS knowledge is preferable. Having worked with Classic ASP or PHP won't give you much of an advantage, since ASP.NET is a whole new way of doing things.
.NET is language independent, which means you can use any .NET supported language to make .NET applications. The most common languages for writing ASP.NET applications are C# and VB.NET. While VB.NET is directly based on VB (Visual Basic), C# was introduced together with the .NET framework, and is therefore a some what new language. Some people call C# "the .NET language", but according to Microsoft, you can do all the same things, no matter if you're using C# or VB.NET. The 2 languages are not that different, and if you have used one of them, you will have no problems at all learning the other. In this tutorial we will use C#.
One of the main differences between ASP.NET and Classic ASP/PHP is the fact that ASP.NET is compiled, while Classic ASP is always interpreted. PHP can be compiled by using commercial products, but usually it's interpreted as well.
Ever since the first version of ASP.NET, the framework has evolved in so many ways and so has the tools for you as a developer. We will discuss this in the next articles, before we create our very first ASP.NET website.
ASP.NET - Web Forms or MVC?
When ASP.NET was originally released, there was only one way of doing things. Later on, Microsoft was inspired by frameworks like Ruby on Rails and added the ability to use an MVC (Model-View-Controller) approach for your ASP.NET websites. With that move, ASP.NET was basically divided into ASP.NET Web Forms (the original approach) and ASP.NET MVC. They share a lot of functionality, thanks to the .NET framework, but there are many differences in how to accomplish even the most basic tasks.
In this tutorial, we will focus on the Web Forms part of ASP.NET.
IDE or editor?
This tutorial will use the free Visual Studio Community IDE from Microsoft. Despite what some people think, ASP.NET can be used without an IDE. It would be perfectly possible to write ASP.NET code in Notepad, and use the commandline compiler included with the .NET framework. Some people might actually prefer this "back to basics" way of doing things, but I believe that ASP.NET is best programmed with a decent IDE. You can use an IDE from another vendor, and you will still be able to follow most of this tutorial. We will use Visual Studio Community since it's free, quick to install and easy to use. Besides, using a good IDE will make a lot of things faster in the long run.
Download Visual Studio Community
So, to get started with this tutorial, go ahead and download Visual Studio Community from visualstudio.com. Here's a direct link to the download page:
As soon as you have downloaded and installed it, you are ready to proceed with the next articles, where we will create your very first ASP.NET website.
Not using Windows?
Don't worry, there's a version for macOS as well - just follow the link above and be sure to select the version of Visual Studio Community for macOS!