Peek into ASP.NET Version 2.0 (Whidbey)


Recently Microsoft unveiled ASP.NET Version 2.0 code named Whidbey in the PDC. The new version has many improvements that greatly increase developer productivity. ASP.NET 1.0 has already simplified web application development. ASP.NET 2.0 takes it to a further height with addition of exciting features such as master pages, themes, skins, membership APIs, personalization features and web parts. This article gives you a peek into many of these new features.

Master pages

Most of the web applications have a consistent look and feel. In ASP.NET 1.0 user controls and custom base class for web forms. Though these features serve the purpose well they have to be controlled by the developer this means the developer needs to take care of using the user control on all the web forms at right location.

ASP.NET 2.0 solves this problem via something called as "Master Pages". Master pages act as a template for all the pages. This quickly allows you to build web forms with consistent look and feel.

Themes and skins

The users of Microsoft FrontPage must be knowing the concept of themes. Themes allow you to change many look and feel features such as colors and font. They provide a very good way of personalization and customization. ASP.NET 2.0 has the concept of themes that goes beyond traditional techniques such as changing CSS on the fly or changing font and colors as per user preference. A theme in ASP.NET  2.0 consist of skins which actually specify properties such as color and font. ASP.NET 2.0 server control can then be applied with these skins.

Membership APIs

Providing authentication mechanism is very common requirement for most of the web sites. ASP.NET forms authentication is one of the most common ways of authenticating users. ASP.NET 2.0 introduces membership features using which you can not only authenticate users but also helps in tasks such as create users and managing their passwords. There are new controls such as Login, LoginView, LoginStatus, LoginName, and PasswordRecovery that provide complete control on membership process.

Personalization Features

Many web sites are "community" oriented. Such sites offer individual members to personalize the site based on their choice. Typically you store such personalized information in a database and retrieve it at run time based on logged in user. Settings pertaining to a user is called as its profile. ASP.NET 2.0 provides great way to implement personalization features  in your web site.

Web Parts and Web Zones

Taking personalization and customization ahead ASP.NET 2.0 introduces something called as Web Parts. Users of Share Point  portal may find this concept familiar. Web Part is nothing but a part of the entire web page that can be customized in terms of appearance, position etc. User can choose whether a certain web part to be displayed on the page or not. Web Parts are contained inside Web Part Zones. They together provide modular design to your portals and web sites.

New Server Controls

ASP.NET 2.0 adds many new and enhanced server controls to the developer's toolbox. For example, GridView control provides capabilities such as paging, sorting and editing without a single line of code! The emphasis is on providing as much as functionality as possible with minimal amount of code.

Web Site Pre-compilation

You must be knowing that ASP.NET 1.0 compiles the pages on first request and serves future requests with the compiled output. Because of this behavior there is a slight time delay when you execute your pages for the first time. ASP.NET 2.0 has two ways by which you can pre-compile your web site. The first way is via precompiler.axd tool that pre-compiles all the  pages and also indicates compile time errors. The another way is to obtain "source code less" copy of your web site via command line tools. The second method converts all the .aspx and other markup pages into assemblies. At run time these assemblies service user requests.

Device Support

ASP.NET 2.0 provides something called as "adaptive rendering". using this feature ASP.NET 2.0 web pages can emit appropriate markup (such as HTML, XHTML or WML) based on the device accessing the page. This means ASP.NET 2.0 has functionality of MMIT built-in core platform itself. You need not use different markup for different devices.


As you can see ASP.NET 2.0 is a leap ahead in increasing developer productivity. There are improvements in almost all the areas as compared to ASP.NET 1.0. In my upcoming series of articles I am going to illustrate many of these exciting features. So, stay tuned!

Bipin Joshi is an independent software consultant, trainer, author, and meditation teacher. He has been programming, meditating, and teaching for 25+ years. He conducts instructor-led online training courses in ASP.NET family of technologies for individuals and small groups. He is a published author and has authored or co-authored books for Apress and Wrox press. Having embraced the Yoga way of life he also teaches Ajapa Yoga to interested individuals. To know more about him click here.

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Posted On : 02 November 2003

Tags : ASP.NET Web Forms Visual Studio