How do you teach yourself ASP? There are so many resources out there, but where do you start? Here are a few suggestions on how to save yourself time and money while becoming a great ASP web developer.
1. Know and bookmark your tutorial sites
ASP101, Tizag and Coveryourasp are great for both work-through web development tutorials and later, troubleshooting. Rather than having to start from scratch with Google, it’s worth creating a ‘web development’ folder within your favourites so that you’ve got a quick reference guide for when you need it.
2. Set up IIS on your computer
IIS is the Microsoft server you can use to test, run and debug your ASP webpages. You can download IIS directly from Microsoft and follow instructions to set up your website.
It’s really useful to set IIS up so that error details appear on screen with a reason and line number for the error. This saves you having to refer to separate logfiles, which can be time-consuming. To set this up in IIS, go to Features View, right-click on ASP and choose Open Feature. Expand the Debugging Properties and change ‘Send Errors to Browser’ from False to True. Click Apply to save the changes.
By default, test websites are set to run on port 80. If you are a web developer planning to work on more than one website, be sure to use different port numbers so that you can run different sites concurrently.
3. Get a good code editor
Obviously you can use a program as simple as Notepad to create and edit ASPs. However, a good code editor will save you lots of debugging time while you get to know the rules and syntax of ASP. Crimson Editor is a good freebie; UltraEdit offers more features for a reasonable price.
4. Work your way through
You will often come across something new – an example of programming code which needs further analysis. I know this is not an environmentally friendly suggestion, but I have sometimes found it helpful to print code when stuck. The advantage of this technique is that you can refer back and forth within the code (e.g. to find declaration of variables or references to functions defined earlier) and you can annotate the code for future reference.
5. Keep extending your web development vocabulary
The old adage is true: “You don’t know what you don’t know”, so take the time to research new functions. Learning ASP programming is very much like learning a new language, so keep a “vocab book” to record your discoveries. Even though you may be keen to apply what you already know, there are plenty of useful in-built functions in ASP, so save yourself the time by using what’s already there.