Cast your mind back to the year 2000. Microsoft has just announced its .NET Framework, complete with a new language called C# - that was in July, at the Orlando Professional Developers Conference.
A couple of months later, Mark Anders and Scott Guthrie from Microsoft's ASP+ team turned up at the Wrox Web Developer Conference in Las Vegas. Remember ASP+? This was the pre-release name for what became ASP.NET, the web application framework built on .NET.
Anders and Guthrie presented their new technology in the Wrox keynote, following which I interviewed them. They were absolutely the key people. "We started the team about two-and-half years ago. At the beginning it was just the two of us, working on it," said Guthrie.
Was ASP+ based on .NET from the beginning? "No," said Anders. "There were a number of groups around Microsoft that were looking at how we could move the programming model forward. We were on the IIS team; we had just shipped IIS 4.0, and thought we could do a lot better for web development. The tools team thought that they needed to make things simpler. We came up with some stuff, showed it to the tools team. They were working with the runtime team, we liked what the runtime team was doing, and started doing it like that."
Anders later revealed that the first ASP+ experiments were done in Java.
We also discussed how.NET components hosted in the browser might become a more secure alternative to ActiveX. "That is there today," said Anders. "If you create controls using WinForms, those can be hosted in IE [Internet Explorer] and run within the security sandbox. It's not through ActiveX hosting.
"As your binding to code within one of those components that comes down in the browser, if it's not present on the machine it will be downloaded. We have a great incremental download and deployment story. We expect it to be very popular."
Good idea, but it never really happened. Microsoft got security cold feet, and ended up crippling the feature in the 1.0 Framework so that Windows Forms controls did not run at all in the default Internet Zone. This was fixed in 1.1, but web developers disliked the .NET dependency and the fact that it only worked with IE and Windows.