The ASP.NET team at Microsoft is hard at work on the next version of ASP.NET, code-named "Whidbey." ASP.NET Whidbey will be a major release, and will include many significant new features. In addition, the Whidbey release will be 100 percent backward compatible to provide smooth migration from the current version of ASP.NET. ASP.NET Whidbey is built around three core themes: developer productivity, administration and management, and speed and productivity.
The primary goal of ASP.NET Whidbey is to enable developers to build full-featured Web apps faster than before. The design team worked with developers and looked at existing applications to identify the common features, patterns, and code that developers build on a continual basis. The team worked to componentize and include these features as built-in functionality.
For example, ASP.NET Whidbey includes built-in support for membership (user name and password credential storage) and role-management services out of the box. The new personalization service lets you quickly store and retrieve user settings and preferences, facilitating rich customization with minimal code. Master Pages now provide flexible page UI inheritance across sites. The new Site Navigation system allows developers to build link structures quickly and consistently across a site. Site Counters offer rich logging and instrumentation of client browser access patterns. Themes provide for flexible UI skinning of controls and pages. And the new ASP.NET Web Part framework provides rich portal-style layout and customization features that today would require writing tens of thousands of lines of code.
Augmenting these infrastructure features are more than 45 new server controls that offer powerful declarative support for data access, login security, wizard navigation, image generation, menus, treeviews, portals, and more. Building a page with a DataGrid in ASP.NET 1.0 that was filtered using a dropdown list, while also supporting paging, sorting, and editing, would have required approximately 100 lines of code (and probably a few trips to the documentation). In ASP.NET Whidbey, you can do this without a single line of procedural code (the new data controls do all the work) and the page can be built in seconds using the upcoming edition of Visual Studio .NET that's also part of Whidbey. Developers can also automatically bind all data access controls against a business object or a data-access layer, facilitating rich three-tier enterprise application scenarios.
Another goal of ASP.NET Whidbey was to ensure that administrators can utilize ASP.NET as easily as developers. This meant building features that further enhance the deployment, management, and operations of ASP.NET on the server. ASP.NET Whidbey has new configuration management APIs that enable users to programmatically build programs or scripts that create, read, and update web.config and machine.config configuration files. It also has a new, comprehensive admin tool that plugs into the existing IIS Administration MMC, allowing an administrator to graphically read or change settings within the XML configuration files.
ASP.NET Whidbey will ship with a new application deployment utility that will allow both developers and administrators to precompile a dynamic ASP.NET application prior to deployment. This precompilation automatically identifies any compilation issues anywhere within the site, and it enables ASP.NET applications to be deployed without any source being stored on the server. Even the content of .aspx files is removed as part of the compile phase, thus further protecting intellectual property.
The current version of ASP.NET is a fast Web application server, but ASP.NET Whidbey should be even faster. ASP.NET Whidbey is now 64-bit enabled, meaning it can take advantage of the full memory address space of new 64-bit processors and servers. Developers can simply copy existing 32-bit ASP.NET apps onto a running 64-bit ASP.NET Whidbey server and have them be JIT compiled automatically and executed as native 64-bit applications (no source changes or manual recompile are required).
ASP.NET Whidbey includes automatic database server cache invalidation, which allows developers to aggressively output cache database-driven page and partial page content within a site and have ASP.NET automatically invalidate these cache entries and refresh the content whenever the back-end database changes.
ASP.NET Whidbey also includes major improvements to the Web development support in Visual Studio. More details about Visual Studio Whidbey and ASP.NET Whidbey can be found at http://www.asp.net/whidbey