Sites still in Classic ASP, why?

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Classic ASP is not to be confused with ASP used in the .NET framework, the two are very different, I’m talking about Classic ASP here. Classic ASP, was first distributed with IIS (Microsoft’s Internet Information Services) back in 1996, two further releases followed in 1997 and 2000. It was Microsoft’s first server-side script that was used to dynamically generate web pages, so in it’s hayday was cutting edge. However, shoot forward to now, 2008 and there are still a load of new sites developed in Classic ASP, why? Surely given the rate at which internet technologies advance something would have come along that was better? Well it did, it’s called PHP.


Why is PHP better? Well there’s two points of view for why it’s better.


From a coders point of view, coding in PHP is a hell of a lot easier with better documentation, plenty of resources available, frameworks to work in making it quicker to get the job done and you can easily adhere to best software practices. It is incredibly flexible and can connect to a variety of databases, most commonly used is MySql database which is (in my view) a better database system to use than MS SQL, it’s syntax, extra functionality and clear documentation that MySql gives me is ace and makes any expansions/requirements needed by the client, no problem to do at all. Which is what every client wants to hear, a yes that’s possible rather than a err, well, that could be a problem.


From a clients point of view – PHP is free and doesn’t need a Microsoft platform to run on (which isn’t free, you have to pay Microsoft). The database PHP uses most commonly is MySql, which is also free, unlike MS SQL (again you pay Microsoft). The resources available in PHP are vastly greater than ASP meaning whatever a client needs from their site, it’s not a problem to do in PHP. Imagine a simple image uploading tool, in ASP you have to purchase a module _just_ to handle the images, in PHP there’s a wealth of image manipulation libraries at your finger tips at no cost.


With the purchase of River Internet we acquired some estate agent clients whose sites were coded in ASP. The next step for us will be to advise them to have their sites recoded in PHP (for which we use a great MVC framework that builds in many SEO best practices as well as other useful classes) so as to ‘future-proof’ their online marketing activity (now, in the present market, becoming more and more important as traditional advertising costs escalate).


While I’m advocating PHP here, if in another 10 years time there’s a better language out there, I’m pretty confident that we’d be using that. It doesn’t pay to be stuck in your ways when it comes to internet technologies and your clients shouldn’t have to pay for your shortcomings and not keeping an eye on trends in the future.


So for the love of all things good, can we please lay Classic ASP to rest?

  • infocyde | Apr 1, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I agree. I coded a lot in classic ASP, and I have to admit I like it a lot. When I coded in Classic ASP I found myself more focused on dealing with customer problems then figuring out how to do something techwise. That is why I still think developers who have coded in ASP for a long time still turn out new sites written in ASP even though it is ten years old. Now that I develop in ASP.Net/C#, I’ve got all this power at my finger tips, but I’m constantly getting tripped up on the technology rather then turning out something. True, the problems I deal with now are more complex then when I did back when I was a classic ASP developer, but sometimes just having a few tools but knowing how to use them really well is better then having hundreds of classics and methods that seem to trip over themselves.

    So for small data driven apps, ASP would be find IF it weren’t for the fact that its future is uncertain. Thus we have PHP. I’ve read about it and it look really similar to classic ASP as far as being simple but powerful, but it also looks like PHP can be extended quite a bit with modules and frameworks, so you can approach the power of .Net if you wanted to, or you can keep it simple by using just the base PHP features that you want to use.

    That is pretty appealing. As sometimes ASP.Net pisses me off, where simple scripting languages like ASP and PHP get the job done for 90% of what you want to do.

    So, due to the fact that classic ASP might be going the way of the do do, I will work with PHP going forward for all my side gigs.

  • Robert Greene | Apr 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Great comment… Just one problem with it. You can integrate Classic ASP with ASP.NET and SilverLite which blows PHP out of the water by about 20 years!!

    Also I can code full functions in ASP in just a few lines compared to PHP which would be a matter 50 – 60 lines just in simple functions alone. Compare 50-60 lines in ASP I can have almost a full program thats including the GUI!!

  • Stephen | Apr 28, 2009 at 8:01 pm


    I worked on the CW Homes site when OrangeVision were running it back in 2003.

    I do agree that Classic ASP has had its day and should have been laid to rest years ago, the joys of legacy code. PHP is streets ahead of classic I agree.

    I dont think its fair to say that and c# are a weaker product than PHP though, especially now that Microsoft have introduced MVC framework and integrated JQuery into the framework, weve just built a large application using this and I would really recommend it, well worth a look.

    Kind regards

  • Carlos Osuna | Jul 20, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Why do people still code in Classic ASP?
    Using Socratic thinking one would reply: Why do people still use COBOL?.

    The real reason for classic ASP dominance in the market (I think in the enterprise market there is 5 classic apps for every PHP or ASP.NET stuff, only Java stacks in the numbers) is that it worked.

    Microsoft tried to imitate Java with its ASP.NET but created a convulted Mom-and-Pop solution which doesn’t scale. PHP, in the other end, is a good scalable solution, but it’s mostly ignored by the Enterprise, since it is not properly structured and recreates what companies are trying to avoid, scaling back from classicASP. It has a great ecosystem, but most of its offerings are in the open source, end-user market.

    So just like MFC, Visual Basic and Visual Fox are Windows client side legacy, classic ASP, COM+ and ADO are server side legacy platforms that will remain in existence from here to eternity.

  • Ewan Stevenson | Sep 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I agree with what Robert Greene says – mix ASP and ASP.NET to suit requirements and you’ve got something that really wins over PHP.

  • Tenorio | Dec 29, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Classic ASP still rocks, but you have to use the basic OO VBScript offers to avoid those horrible spaghetti-code.

    Check it out Ajaxed library for classic ASP:

    Using ajaxed you can build modern ajax-like apps easily.

    Long live classic ASP!

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