A more recent Microsoft innovation is ASP.NET, which provides a robust application development framework in addition to the basic functionality defined above for ASP. Server-side scripting can be done with any of the .NET languages, such as VB.NET or C-Sharp, and support for code behind files allows for clean separation between HTML markup and executable code. ASP.NET also introduces the notion of server-side controls and transparent maintenance of property states for these controls across multiple page refreshes. The server-side controls include tables, menus, and other user interface objects that simplify the creation of web pages. The latest version of ASP.NET also includes integrated support for Ajax, simplifying the task of developing Rich Internet Applications.
PHP is a scripting language that plays a role very similar to ASP in the non-Windows web application server world. As with ASP, PHP can be embedded in HTML and can dynamically generate web pages in response to client requests. There are a variety of other languages that play similar server-side roles such as Java, Perl, Python and Ruby. These languages can be used within the context of an application framework to provide ASP.NET-like capabilities. Popular application frameworks include Ruby on Rails, FUSE, and Drupal, for example. For further reading, see Wikipedia or PHP.net.
SQL (Structured Query Language) is used for programmatically creating, updating, and reading databases. Two of the most commonly used backend database systems, SQL Server and MySQL, use the SQL query language. When using ASP, ASP.NET, PHP or other languages, the SQL query syntax is used as an input parameter to a request to extract information from the database. See Wikipedia or SQL fundamentals on About.com.
Testing dynamically generated data-driven web pages adds an additional layer of complexity, requiring closed looped testing where client-side requests are triggered against a known data set, with a clear expectation of the resultant web page.
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