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ASP hosting simplified
ASP stands for Active Server Pages. It is a technology that enables users to design and creative interactive pages for their websites, using something called “server-side scripting”. What do we mean by interactive? Forms, in-site search engines, blogs, user forums, newsletters, calendars, WhoIs searches, web-based email, polls, surveys, hit counters and more.
Best of all, with ASP, no longer do webmasters have to concern themselves with what browser a visitor to their site is using. With ASP hosting, your website will appear identically on all computers, on all browsers, a claim that HTML simply cannot make.
Anytime a browser requests a webpage that has the .asp extension where the more familiar .htm or .html would be, the hosting provider’s web server interprets any ASP scripts in the program first and foremost, before delivering any HTML info to the browser. This is why you cannot simply run ASP websites with just any hosting company. The hosting company you choose must have servers that support ASP, or else the ASP scripts you use will be rendered useless.
When examining web hosting companies to find one that supports ASP, you must look specifically for ASP support. Do not simply assume that because a hosting company supports “most web-based scripts, from CGI to Perl” that it supports ASP. If it doesn’t say so in an obvious place on the sales site, go to the hosting company’s FAQ and look for ASP. And since most FAQs are searchable, this shouldn’t be difficult to do. If you’re really enamored with a particular hosting company (or their current promotion) but can find no information on ASP support, consider contacting them via email, telephone, or web chat to find out. It’s possible that they do support ASP and just have a lousy sales site (which may be an indicator of an altogether different sort).
Microsoft brought ASP to the world, and as such provides the platform - Windows - on which ASP generally works best. In order to play around with ASP scripts on your web pages, you’ll have to download and install onto your system an ASP server, like Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) or Microsoft’s Personal Web Server (PWS) -- one or both of which is included with most Windows packages for no extra charge. If you use Windows on your machine and have never encountered IIS or PWS, chances are it’s because you have to “Add” the program to your hard drive using the Windows software CD-ROM or through your control panel, since it’s often not included as part of the “Basic Install”.
Incidentally, Windows ME and Windows XP Home Edition are lacking in support for ASP scripts. But we’re willing to bet the forthcoming Windows Vista probably does.
For those webmasters on a PC that isn’t Windows-based, all hope is not lost. Sun Microsystems has developed a program called Chili!Soft ASP that allows other servers -- such as Red Hat, Apache, and Secure Server -- and other operating systems -- such as Linux, Solaris, and AIX -- to support ASP hosting.
Writing and using ASP scripts is easy too -- at least it’s no harder than HTML, with all commands occurring between “ <%” and “%> ;” instead of “<” and “>”. Not so big a difference, is there? And you can find an abundance of software tools all over the web (many for free) that helps even the greenest novice create interactive web pages rife with ASP.
ASP is such a versatile language that more and more hosting companies
are finding themselves compelled to add ASP support to their hosting
packages just to remain competitive. This, of course, is only to your
advantage as you can comparison shop around for the best ASP hosting
offerings right alongside all the other features you’re looking