Tips for Success with ASP.NET 3.5

A huge, friendly user community supports ASP.NET. Free resources are plentiful if you want to build dynamic, interactive, data-driven Web pages with ASP.NET 3.5. Here are some helpful hints for your Web development and design adventures.

When you get stuck on ASP.NET code

It's not unusual to encounter code that should work, but doesn't. It happens to everyone, not just beginners. Consider these possibilities when you hit a roadblock:

  • There's a knowledge gap. You're missing a key piece of information that you need to make this thing work.
  • The code sample is wrong. It might be that the code was based on a prerelease version and hasn't been updated; that it targets a different version of .NET; that it never worked in the first place; or something has been left out.
  • The documentation is wrong. Because of product churn (last minute and unreported changes), the documentation may not accurately reflect the release version of the software.
  • You're up against a bug in the .NET platform or ASP.NET. Released software always has some bugs, so it's within the realm of possibility that you discovered one. That said, be sure you rule out the preceding possibilities before deciding the platform is faulty.

Check out Web-based reference material

Microsoft's Web-based MSDN Library has the most up-to-date reference material, including information added by community members. (If your knowledge can save someone pain, add the info to the official documentation.)

Because URLs change, your best bet is to navigate to MSDN Search and search for.NET Framework Class Library.

Ensure that you're reading the documentation for the latest version of .NET. For .NET 3.5, the URL usually includes the version vs.90 in parenthesis, such as http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms229335(vs.90).aspx.

Ask a good question, get a good answer

After you search for an answer and try to resolve the problem, don't be shy about asking for help in the ASP.NET newsgroups and Web forums. Don't worry about looking like a dummy — nobody knows everything and everyone starts with zero expertise.

To get a good answer for a coding issue, boil your problem down to a simple example. Reporting, "It doesn't work," isn't enough. Include the error message and a description of what's failing along with what you want or expect to happen.

Use the starter kits

Starter kits are free applications that include documented source code, style sheets, and databases. Before you tackle a personal Web site, club site, classified ads application, e-commerce page, catalog, wiki, blog — any major application — browse the list of starter kits. Start at Microsoft ASP.NET.

Read the hottest blogs

Undoubtedly, if an issue's burning about ASP.NET, someone is discussing it on his or her blog. Whether it's a workaround to a nasty bug, the introduction of a new technology, or a Visual Web Developer add-on, blogs are up-to-the-minute sources. Visit Microsoft Weblogs, where members of Microsoft's ASP.NET team and many top community members appear.

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