Paradigm Shift

New Web Site Project Model for ASP.NET





Paradigm Shift

New Web Site Project Model for ASP.NET


By Alvin Bruney


Visual Studio 2005 ships with a new Web Site Project (WSP) model for ASP.NET. The WSP model is a replacement for the legacy project-based model in Visual Studio 2003. The WSP model was developed to address a number of issues that plagued the legacy project-based model. A few of those thorny issues include, but aren t limited to, performance problems due to Web site recompilation and bottlenecks created by the project file under source code control.


The WSP model fixed those issues because it no longer depends on a single project file. All files existing in a directory are now implicitly part of the project. It means that developers on large teams can retrieve only the particular files they need to work on from source control without locking the project file. The new compilation model also ensures that only files that have changed are compiled. This reduces the compile-time burden, as well. The WSP model brings several other significant advantages to ASP.NET development. However, these advantages come at a cost of an increased learning curve.


That paradigm shift didn t sit well with some developers. In particular, the new model is difficult to master, especially for projects where the simplicity of Visual Studio s 2003 project model was more than adequate. Probably of greater concern was the time spent learning to do things differently instead of focusing developer effort on migration. That sort of metric discourages decision makers from migrating because it attaches an additional cost to project migration that is almost always unwelcome. The resistance to WSP threatened to derail the adoption of Visual Studio 2005 in the enterprise.


Weighing the pros and cons, Microsoft has decided to release another compilation model to complement the WSP model in Visual Studio 2005. The Web Application Project (WAP) model will be fully supported and integrated into Visual Studio 2005. The WAP model is available from and is expected to be released with Service Pack 1 of Visual Studio 2005.


The WAP model essentially allows legacy projects authored under Visual Studio 2003 to be ported to the Visual Studio 2005 format while maintaining the project concept that developers have grown accustomed to in Visual Studio 2003. The strategy provides the best of both worlds because the Visual Studio 2005 innovations are still available in the new WAP model. For instance, personalization, themeing, partial classes, and master pages are available in the new WAP model. The benefit is that developers can migrate with zero learning curve since they are already familiar with the legacy project model.


The new WAP model is definitely an olive branch extended to those who have avoided migration. And it makes sense! Enterprise organizations with a significant number of developers can now focus on migration without the burden of training. For large companies with a global reach, this is a tremendous savings. Microsoft benefits, as well, because it means that the Visual Studio 2005 market share can continue to experience growth. And this is always in .NET s best interest.


Alvin Bruney is an ASP.NET MVP. He has been involved in .NET technology since the beta version. His book, The Microsoft Office Web Components Black Book with .NET, is available at





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