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October 1, 2002—In this issue:
1. DEVELOPER .NET PERSPECTIVES
- Win Forms vs. Web Forms
- Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott Are Bringing Their Security Expertise to You!
- Take Our Quick Survey and You Could Win a $200 Gift Certificate!
- Featured Thread: Can't Execute Scripts in ASP.NET Pages
4. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Develop Internet Applications in Visual Studio .NET
5. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. DEVELOPER .NET PERSPECTIVES
(contributed by Bill Sheldon, [email protected])
Enterprise applications have a commonality in that they tend to be multi-tiered; the UI, business logic, and database each occupy a separate logical, if not physical, tier. When organizations move toward this type of architecture, a common question is, "How should you partition the logic associated with the application?" In other words, how much of the business logic should the application make available directly to the UI? Do you want to base the enterprise application's design on a thick client developed with Win Forms, such as the client that Microsoft Word provides? Or do you want to base the design on a thin client that relies on browser-based Web Forms, such as the client that Web sites provide?
Answering these questions require serious study because the answers will affect the design of your class library. By definition, a class library is part of the business-logic tier—and you want to put this middle tier where it most efficiently carries out the processing associated with an application.
Little doubt exists about where enterprise data should live. As in any data model, enterprise data should live in the location where it will be accessible to anyone who needs it. This location varies based on the data. For example, enterprise data typically resides in an enterprisewide database, whereas a personal memo you write typically resides on your local hard disk.
Where to host the business logic is trickier than where to store the data. Trade-offs exist between having the business logic centralized with the data or distributed to the clients. If you keep the business logic centralized, traditionally it's easier to maintain. However, the more business logic that's present in the UI, the less the UI needs to communicate with the server and more features can be part of the UI.
Because of the Internet's growth, browser-based clients were becoming the standard compromise between the challenge of having a rich interactive client and powerful centralized server-based computing—that is, until the Microsoft .NET Framework changed the ground rules. A big disadvantage of traditional Windows enterprise applications is the distribution of new versions of the applications. Even for applications such as Word, which is used throughout the enterprise as opposed to being an enterprise application, the challenge of updating tens of thousands of clients can be daunting. Unlike an update to the next version of Word, most enterprise application updates aren't for feature enhancements but rather for bug resolution.
Bugs in enterprise applications have the potential for all sorts of costs and liability problems because these applications are often related to a company's primary line of business. In most cases, you can't manually distribute updates, and online update sites have only a limited history of success. Think about how many of the current Word users have installed Service Pack 2 (SP2) from the Microsoft Office Product Updates site and you begin to get the scope of the problem.
What's great about the .NET Framework is that it lets you not only host updated versions of enterprise applications on the Internet but also have the application automatically check for and install these updates. You can find out more information about this type of Internet deployment for enterprise applications in Billy Hollis's excellent article, "Death of the Browser?," at the following URL:
The .NET Framework changes not only how you can deploy an enterprise application but also how the application's components communicate with each other. Browser-based development had an advantage because it used HTTP or HTTP Secure (HTTPS) to communicate with the user's browser. In the past, an application had to use a database-connection string relying on a database specific port to pass data to the data repository—and this connection was across a protocol that wasn't Internet friendly. An Internet unfriendly protocol is a limiting factor because security takes priority over increased user friendliness and distributed applications. The .NET Framework development environment builds on the concept of XML Web services. This change affects where to host an enterprise application's business logic.
XML Web services removes the limits of the communication protocol because you can host a portion of your component on the server near the data repository and use HTTP or HTTPS to communicate between the client and server. Thus, the architecture is compatible with corporate firewalls. This development is huge because it means that you can optimize the communication with the server to improve performance. The one advantage that thick-client applications have over thin-client applications is the amount of data that the server must transmit during runtime. In a thin-client application, the server must not only transmit the application data but also the HTML presentation layer. In many cases, the server transmits this information repeatedly as screens are refreshed. The result is a heavy load on network resources and a real performance impact for those users limited to modem-based connectivity.
By having a thicker .NET Win Forms client, you can have your business objects communicate with server-based counterparts for the data needed, then manage the processing of the user interaction entirely on the client system. The result is that you gain the power of the client desktop to carry out the majority of processing and gain access to the far richer client UI. When you design the business logic and middle-tier classes, you can use both client- and server-based code to implement the logical class. The power of XML Web services makes tying the code together possible. When you consider the increased connectivity of Win Forms application, the power of XML Web services provides an entire paradigm shift.
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A forum member installed Visual Studio .NET on a computer running Windows XP Professional Edition. Later, he also installed Microsoft IIS. However, the member can’t execute scripts in ASP.NET pages. If you can help, go to
4. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Sue Cooper, [email protected])
No Starch Press published Robert B. Dunaway's "The Book of Visual Studio .NET." This book guides you through the tools and technologies in Visual Studio .NET, including ASP.NET, Visual Basic .NET, and XML Web services. "The Book of Visual Studio .NET" shows you how to integrate multiple .NET technologies; solve developmental problems concerning cross-language integration, cross-platform communication, installation, and versioning; use designer, database, and monitoring tools to facilitate rapid application development; access data by using a variety of techniques; and implement COM+ with Enterprise Services. "The Book of Visual Studio .NET" is $49.95. The book will be available mid-October at bookstores or from the publisher. Contact No Starch Press at 415-863-9900, 800-420-7240, or [email protected]
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