David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science
The Magic of the Internet
To some, the Internet is a magical place. It provides information when we need to figure things out, a way to purchase items from the comfort of our homes, and entertainment when we're bored out of our minds. In some ways, it seems to have a life of its own. So, how does it do that? How does the Internet adjust to our wants and needs? There are a number of things that come into play, most of which are technology-based. One, in particular, provides a significant contribution. It is called ASP.NET.
What is ASP.NET?
.NET is a development tool, a framework or platform, released by Microsoft, whose purpose is to provide a set of common capabilities across a number of devices and operating systems. ASP.NET, or Active Server Pages.NET, is a technology, also created by Microsoft, that makes use of .NET capabilities to provide dynamic content on the Internet. By dynamic, we mean content that adjusts to the circumstances in which it was requested. Consider a webpage that displays weather information. At the time it is created, the information is current and accurate. Over time, however, the information becomes dated, and in need of an update. This would require the webpage to be redesigned, a tedious process at best. Using ASP.NET, the webpage can automatically update, meaning that the page only has to be created once.
What is MVC?
MVC is an architectural pattern known as Model-View-Controller. It breaks the internals of a software application down into pieces, each falling into one of three categories:
- Model - This piece is where the information resides. Often this is a database, but it could be as simple as a file. In an application like Microsoft Word, this would be the document you are working on.
- View - This piece is what the user sees on their monitor. Technically, it's the logic behind what is seen, the part that draws the screens. In Microsoft Word, this would be the written words on the displayed page.
- Controller - This piece is the logic for the application, the part that performs any needed processing. In Microsoft Word, this would be the program code that performs the operations that Word can provide.
Pictorially, the organization of the pieces looks like this:
In the diagram, the solid lines indicate direct access to the information contained in the piece (read and write). Dashed lines indicate indirect access (read only).
How is MVC Related to ASP.NET?
MVC is related to ASP.NET in much the same way as it is related to an application. ASP.NET is embedded into the HTML code that generates most of the webpages you see on the Internet. In other words, the View portion of MVC. ASP.NET is executed on the remote server, which is the Controller portion of MVC. And, ASP.NET provides data access capabilities which are the Model portion of MVC. The only real difference is the distances involved. The Internet is worldwide. The View portion exists on your personal computer, the Model portion resides on some remote server, and the Controller portion also resides on some remote server. That is the nature of the Internet. An application is usually restricted to your personal computer.
As an example, consider a website like the fictional PurchaseStuffCheap.com. The steps you go through, and the process steps behind the scenes, look something like the following:
- You type www.PurchaseStuffCheap.com into your web browser (View).
- A request is sent to the PurchaseStuffCheap servers for the main webpage. The page is located in the database (Model) and brought to the PurchaseStuffCheap servers for processing (Controller).
- The page is dynamic, as it contains sales content that changes, so ASP.NET is used to create that content on-the-fly (Controller).
- The webpage is sent back to your browser (Controller) and displayed on your screen using ASP.NET (View).
- You click on a part of the screen (View), and the process repeats itself again.
Any interaction you have with a website is a repeat of the above steps and happens many times in the course of a session. This idea applies to every website that is out there.
To recap, ASP.NET is a technology that makes use of .NET capabilities to provide dynamic content on the Internet. MVC is a pattern known as Model-View-Controller. It is made up of three pieces; Model, View, and Controller that interact with each other to provide capabilities to the application that implements it. MVC is related to ASP.NET in much the same way as it is to an application. However, while an application is generally restricted to a personal computer, ASP.NET works with the web. The View portion exists on your personal computer, the Model and Controller portions reside on some remote server.
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