Software Development

Poll: What do you think of ASP.NET Web Forms?

Justin James admits that he's not a fan of ASP.NET Web Forms, but he knows that some of his fellow developers like it. Tell us whether you think ASP.NET Web Forms is horrible.

Every time I need to work on an ASP.NET Web Forms project, I feel a cold wind blow over me. To be honest, I dislike ASP.NET Web Forms; I think that it is a really confusing paradigm; and it leads to some truly awful code. I have given up writing ASP.NET Web Forms code other than maintenance on existing applications. However, I know developers who still like it a lot.

I'm curious to know what Programming and Development readers think of it. Do you think it's horrible, tolerable, or a wonderful tool? Please answer the following poll question, and then let me know why you voted the way you did in the forums.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

41 comments
herbmeehan
herbmeehan

I can't get over this, and that's one of the reasons why I absolutely LOVE ASP.NET! Visual Studio is a world class IDE. Nothing in the PHP world even comes close. As for ASP.NET specifically... the built-in libraries, validation tools, and uniform code and uniform standards makes it easy to rapidly create web applications.

malaykp
malaykp

I like programming with ASP.NET forms, as it always helped me giving some quick and elegant looking web solutions to my clients.

varsanikp
varsanikp

For me ASP.NET is best. I know many other web development tools, scripts and languages but I found ASP.NET is more handy, easy to use and quickest way for web development. Many people don't like it just because they are good in other language and using ASP.NET as a beginner. For me, I know java but I don't like it at all just because I am very good in .NET but just biginner in Java. In fact I never tried to learn Java in depth and I always say Java is bad language. I think you are facing the same thing.

Jaqui
Jaqui

95% of websites using .aspx for the site script have one or more of several problems. 1) network connection errors trying to load 2) Error 500, internal Server Error [ when using MS Server as well naturally ] 3) 5 minutes or more to load a single page [ site index page ] 4) fail to load any subsequent pages after that 5 minute load of first page. and yeah, I have seen all of these hit 1 site in one session.

greg.bell
greg.bell

M$ took a perfectly good way of processing text, 'cause that???s what generating html is, and royally screwed it up. I believe MVC has reverted some of the damage caused by their stupidness, in the meantime I use Vici MVC. Much, much better, doesn???t fight the standards and doesn???t populate your web pages with 3 tonnes of garbage viewstate bull crap.

dpchimmili
dpchimmili

Asp.net web forms are the express way to web development. asp.net is a great technology. It not only makes web development fast but also powerful, reliable and fun.

pgklada
pgklada

I learned it several years ago and I have three applications that stood test of company users and time; could it have beed done prettier? probably, but with a lot more effort, I guess... so, it simply works well for me

etronm
etronm

Is it worse than all the xml's, classes, libraries required to do the same in Java? I don't think so...

sukumarraju
sukumarraju

Been using ASP.NET Web forms for over 6yrs, using Visual studio web forms have delivered the expecations. Haven't looked into MVC yet, still like web forms as ever.

ps2goat
ps2goat

I prefer Visual Studio, but I haven't played around with any non-Microsoft languages with it, so I don't know if VS offers intellisense for languages like PHP, etc. However, the .NET Framework seems to be one of the best tools available, as far as the learning curve to move between development in Microsoft applications. Since I started branching out into Silverlight, I do enjoy that more, as the code for the web can easily be copied into a WPF app that interfaces with web services. Unfortunately, my main project focuses on useability by 99% of our user base, which could include several old systems, and forcing older systems to install Silverlight, or worse-- having to deal with the idiotic Silverlight installation errors, etc.-- is just not an option. Even free things like the ASP.NET AJAXControlToolkit needs a lot of work. E.g., using a popupcontrolextender/hovermenuextender for numerous items on the page generates an unnecessary amount of scripts. Using jQuery for the same thing can utilize a single function to apply a hover or popup effect to a without increasing the required bandwidth and compilation of dynamic script resources.

bobconway
bobconway

If there were a choice somewhere between "best tool for the job" and "necessary evil," that's about where I would have come-down. The idea isn't so bad and seemed great back in 2003. Now I find it a bit cumbersome. I do, however, use Master/Content pages quite often, and I like them.

jinksk
jinksk

It's a necessary evil. The main problem is the paradigm. It requires alot of hooks between the client and the server. AJAX helps and the AJAX toolkit helps even more, but you're still going to have to write code (Javascript or ASP Form code on client or .NET compiled code on the server) to insure that events are properly handled. If you're goal is for your user to never have to install an update, then this is the only paradigm that can be used. Silverlight and Smart Client forms both require some, and some times considerable updates being downloaded to the user.

eftpotrm
eftpotrm

In the interests of trying to make the web look like VB, web forms ends up just getting in the way; all sorts of useful techniques and dynamic structures which were a major benefit on ASP are simply precluded by design, and in a way that so obscures what's happening at the protocol level that I can easily end up fighting the inadequacies of the platform quite as much as solving the underlying problem. I can sort of see why they tried, but the collateral damage of the method is a great shame.

dshumate
dshumate

Visual WebGUI makes it sing!

vinneyk
vinneyk

For me, ASP.NET is the right tool for most web applications. I'm curious what technologies our author indulges in for web applications. Surely not pHp... In my company, ASP.NET is the norm and Silverlight--with it's improved databinding, mvvm, and lack of postback--is the welcome exception.

tony
tony

I can see how this would be useful in code shops where the product goes through a team before roll out and is often reused for other clients but for working in the business while performing other IT functions it seems like to many hoops to jump to roll out simple projects being done by one person.

Ole88
Ole88

I enjoy writing C# code whether it is a web app, windows app or console app. I found the language easy to learn and .NET 4.0 makes it a breeze to do many things that I need to do in a Windows environment. My nemesis is java in any form. I tried learning the language and found that even following directions in a book, step by step, yielded an application that would not run. I have also seen too many occassions where the JRE breaks applets when it is upgraded (ie. firewall management). After too many failed attempts, I decided that java was not for me and I label it worst language ever.

danmartini
danmartini

If you know what you are doing, and avoid drag and drop programming like the plague, it is the richest web application development model available. It requires creativity and deep understanding of how it works to get the most out of it, but with that, it is incredibly productive and endlessly flexible. If the big gripe is ViewState, then turn it off and work without it. ViewState is extremely useful in small doses.

bminer1
bminer1

I've found ASP.NET MVC web sites are faster, lighter web applications - no heavy view state anymore.

dbonamie
dbonamie

Honestly, if anyone has been doing web development for awhile and has not used asp.net web forms, or doesn't understand OOD there will be confusion. However, as far as web forms go asp.net are the best of the bread. Silverlight is not available on all platforms yet and the MVC and MVCC patterns are not replacing web forms. These are alternatives to web forms and have moved into web development from windows applications development. Scalability is an issue for many and straight web publishers who do not use databases or use xml action in their html either do not understand the need for OOD or don't need a lot of control of large project development.

lupino.eu
lupino.eu

ASP.NET Web Forms have been around since beginning of the millennia. This is now being gradually replaced by ASP.NET MVC. Silverlight on the other hand is nice but it is not the way forward as it is not supported on smartphones/platforms other than Windows Phone unlike ASP.NET MVC/Web Forms with some clever CSS, HTML5, jQuery etc.

gregory.white
gregory.white

I started with ASP.Net web forms and C# - the best thing is I have now moved to Silverlight and all the skills I learnt in C# are still applicable - also transferable to winforms projects so I thing they are great!

paul.tomlinson
paul.tomlinson

Don't know if they are the best for the job - they certainly do the job fine. Code is re-usable and our team picked up the technology easily. And, as a Microsoft product it is likely to be supported in some form for the foreseeable future. Next for us, evolution, Silverlight!!

amansbains
amansbains

Basically web dev was a pain and Windows developers had a long learning curve for starting with web development. Web forms make it possible in the shortest time. I believe ASP.net web forms are a blessing for the majority of windows developers.

terjeb
terjeb

Any technology that tries to wrap the Forms paradigm around web technologies should be banned from civilized conversation and development. The paradigm is an anti-pattern that encourages and at times forces un-maintainability on a project. Read up on Rails and other sensible web technologies, then try out ASP.NET MVC if you need to develop on the Microsoft platform.

coyotech
coyotech

The validation tools are nice...that's about the only thing I think is better than plain old php, old asp, java and whatever. I have an important client who insists on asp.net. Seems crazy to me, but that's the way it is! I don't see any particular advantage over using a compiled language for a website. More errors, more down time, and the worst yet: one small error and the whole page is down with a big old ugly looking error page. I know you can customize them, but it wouldn't be necessary if they didn't show up so often. Then you have that horrible long config file, and if something got updated--if you wrote in asp.net 3.x and the server is upgraded to 4.X, your site is down. It can't find most of the stuff it needs and throws big old ugly error messages again. Just crazy...nope, I don't like asp.net much. Alot of it is comfort zone, but there are some objective objections, too.

les
les

I really like ASP.NET because of the tools available in Visual Studio that make coding so much faster. I have written some complex WEB sites and applications and have added tools from DevExpress that make coding very fast and fun! I also find that support is really good. I do however agree with wm_cis that developers tend to stick to what they're comfortable with. Personally I moved from Delphi and found the transition very easy.

robo_dev
robo_dev

While, to a great extent, .net seems to do a good job in terms of input validation and code validation, it would seem that there is a lot more complexity, and more complexity means that more can go wrong. Not to hijack this discussion, but from a security standpoint, part of it boils down to open-source versus closed source tools, methods, IDEs. etc. What I see is that the whole JAVA development process seems to be a little simpler and less complex. Therefore programming mistakes which can be security issues are fixed faster. That's my observation, I could be wrong....

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I felt that ASP.NET unnecessarily complicated matters over regular ASP in a vain attempt at correctness. Ugly old PHP marches on.

wm_cis
wm_cis

I have noticed that like/dislike is usually tied to a developer's comfort zone.

mattohare
mattohare

Looks like a third each way with no negative passion. Odd for a Microsoft technoogy. I have to say, I've been doing ok with css and embeded html on my own. Then, I don't do much wild stuff with my forms.

ps2goat
ps2goat

We've had no issues like this in our projects. A slow load time may occur if you are not precompiling the site, but everything else you listed would be programmer errors or IIS admin errors.

danmartini
danmartini

Nothing worse than someone making up wholly random statistics based on their personal experience with a bad site. Have you visited 95% of sites using asp.net? No. You haven't visited 1% of sites based on asp.net.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Cyanide or a bullet in the head? How about trying an option that doesn't involve killing yourself?

terjeb
terjeb

Try ASP.NET MVC, it beats Forms in every single aspect, and it makes for maintainable applications. It doesn't fight the protocol, it embraces the protocol. It doesn't rely on "magic" stuff and meaningless "state" code on the web page. It's as close to Rails as you can get without actually doing Rails, and Rails (and similar frameworks) is a superior way of developing web-based applications.

terjeb
terjeb

If you want to develop a (non-plugin) web application today and you want it to run on Windows, ASP.NET MVC (not asp.net and definitely not Web Forms) is the way to go. If you like Silverlight you'll probably also like MVC, and you will never even consider doing Web Forms ever again.

terjeb
terjeb

Moving from Forms to MVC is like moving from Hell to Heaven when it comes to maintainability. WebForms is, as I have noted, an anti-pattern, and honestly, if someone has suggested it on my team as the solution to any type of problem they would have been made to leave the team instantly.

Jaqui
Jaqui

just poor design from the start and until I do NOT get these problems on the majority of aspx sites, I will continue to have zero respect for ANY company using aspx for their website.

Jaqui
Jaqui

just 95 out of every 100 aspx sites I have visited gives the problems I detailed, so, that means naturally, 95% of ALL aspx sites are garbage.