ASP stands for Active Server Pages. These are pages that, in addition to the ordinary HTML code of a web page, have added commands that a web server processes before sending the web page to the browser. These extra commands are called server side scripts. ASP web hosting allows these scripts to be implemented and understood by the server.
About Server Side Scripts
Server side scripts, as the name implies, are scripts that are read and acted on by the server rather than the browser. Only the server can see these scripts. Even if a user was to view the code of a web page, they wouldn’t see these scripts. They are hidden to all but the browser, because only the browser need interpret them.
In terms of syntax, server side scripts appear much like HTML. They consist of tags that resemble HTML, but the tags usually open and close with the <% and %> syntax.
Uses of Active Server Pages and Sever Side Scripts
The tags in the ASP have a number of uses. These are usually interactive functions that the web page performs such as displaying the current date and time or offering the user a form to fill out. ASP pages also allow the user to send emails, take surveys, download information on the page and a number of other dynamic functions. These functions are processed before the browser sends the page, allowing it to load the coding for these applications first and then display the graphic or other content.
Most classic active server pages use the .asp extension. This is the way you can tell this type of page from an ordinary web page which usually ends with .htm or .html. Sometimes for security reasons the author of the page will hide the .asp extension and the file will have the ordinary .html extension instead.
Development of ASP
Originally, web pages were essentially static. They were written in HTML and had little interactivity. They had to be laboriously written in a text editor and would result in pages that could primarily show only text. A step toward making the process more streamlined occurred when HTML editors such as FrontPage and Dreamweaver were developed. This made the design of web pages easier, but didn’t improve much on their interactivity.
Thus, the next stage was the development of Active Server Pages. They allowed new interactive functions to be implemented by web designers and programmers by making it possible for clients (browsers) to communicate with server databases.
Soon improvements were developed here as well. A number of different languages such as the standard ASP scripting, Visual Basic Script (VBScript), and C# language allowed designers access to different interactivity features. These were eventually subsumed under Microsoft’s .NET development platform, which allowed horizontal compatibility between the languages and a level of standardization to be achieved. In fact, most pages today are written in the .NET environment and these pages end with the .aspx extension rather than simply .asp. The .NET interactivity is generally more efficient and versatile than the classic ASP design platform.
Design of Active Server Pages is not particularly difficult to learn. There are many free tutorials, books, and sample coding segments that one can access easily online. With a bit of practice one can learn to code dynamic pages that are useful, interactive, and fun.
ASP hosting is simply webhosting that supports Microsoft's .NET ASP design framework. Most current web hosting severs offer this type of functionality as part of a general web hosting package.
This article is written by Carrie Donalds, a senior writer working for one of the most reliable web hosting reviews company in the market today.