Intro to ASP Hosting
ASP Hosting Explained
ASP, which stands for Active Server Pages, is a technology that uses what's called "server-side scripting" to allow you to create imaginative, interactive web pages. HTML, unfortunately, does not provide you that same sort of certainty.
When your browser requests any web page with the extension .asp at the end instead of the more familiar .htm, the ASP web hosting company's server knows to interpret all asp scripts right then and there, prior to sending any HTML information to your browser. ASP hosting makes it possible for your website to appear just as you intend it to appear on anyone's computer regardless of the browser they are using.
This makes the ASP hosting company's server crucial to you (and your site visitors) being able to view the web pages properly. To use ASP scripting on your own website, you would need to make sure the host you select is an ASP web hosting company, meaning it supports ASP scripting. Otherwise, you simply can't use ASP on your site.
Keep in mind, however, that just because your web host runs CGI and Pearl scripts, for example, it's no guarantee that it also provides ASP hosting. To check whether your web host is indeed an ASP hosting company, check its FAQ for information on ASP hosting. If you find none, then email or call to find out.
As ASP hosting was introduced to the world by Microsoft, it typically works best on Windows computers, particularly those running newer versions of the Windows operating system. Before you can experiment with using ASP on any of your web pages, you must first download and install an ASP server on your system, such as the more prominent one - Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS). Fortunately, this server or Microsoft Personal Web Server (PWS) comes free as part of the Windows package.
You may have to "Add" the program to your system through the software CD or your control panel, as it may not have been included as part of the basic install procedure. Sadly, Windows ME and Windows XP Home Edition do not support ASP scripting.
If you don't use a Windows operating system (or simply use a different server), ASP hosting still may be available to you. A product named Chili!Soft ASP, put out by Sun Microsystems and available at www.chilisoft.com, supports ASP on many other web servers such as Red Hat, Secure Server, and Apache, using such alternate operating systems as Linux, AIX, and Solaris.
Again, you must have IIS, PWS, Chili!Soft, or some other ASP-enabled server installed on your system in order to make ASP web pages.
ASP scripting is a language all its own, and though there are many tools online, many of them free, for aiding you in creating ASP-rich websites, you will also have to learn the basics of the language yourself. Otherwise, how could you troubleshoot the occasional, inevitable, error? Learning ASP is not hard. Rest assured, if you could learn HTML (to write all commands between "<" and ">", for example), you can learn ASP too (and put all commands now between "<%" and "%>"). See? Not that different.
Lucky for us, the web is saturated with free tools for use on ASP websites: forums, mailing lists, guest books, in-site search engines, forms, blogs, polls, hit counters, web-based email, and WhoIs searches (for looking up potential domain names).
If you're willing to take the little bit of time it requires to learn the basics of ASP scripting and you find the right ASP hosting provider, you open the doors to a boundless world of exciting possibilities to enrich the experiences of your site's visitors and keep them coming back again and again.