Active Server Pages or ASP, as it is more commonly known, is a technology that enables you to make dynamic and interactive web pages.

ASP uses server-side scripting to dynamically produce web pages that are not affected by the type of browser the web site visitor is using.

The default scripting language used for writing ASP is VBScript, although you can use other scripting languages like JScript (Microsoft's version of JavaScript).

ASP pages have the extension .asp instead of .htm, when a page with the extension .asp is requested by a browser the web server knows to interpret any ASP contained within the web page before sending the HTML produced to the browser. This way all the ASP is run on the web server and no ASP will ever be passed to the web browser.

Any web pages containing ASP cannot be run by just simply opening the page in a web browser. The page must be requested through a web server that supports ASP, this is why ASP stands for Active Server Pages, no server, no active pages.

As ASP was first introduced by Microsoft on it's web server, Internet Information Services (IIS), that runs on Windows 2000/XP Pro/NT4, it is this web server that ASP pages usually run best on.

For those of you running Windows and wish to play around with ASP on your own system you will need to install Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS). Lucky IIS or its micro version Personal Web Server (PWS) comes free with Windows.

For Windows users you can find Internet Information Services (IIS) or Personal Web Server (PWS) in the following places: -
Windows 2000/XP Pro - IIS can be found in 'Add/Remove Programs' in the 'Control Panel'.
Windows 98 - PWS can be found under 'add-ons' on the Windows 98 CD.
Windows NT4/95 - You can get hold of IIS by downloading the NT4 Option Pack from Microsoft (don't be fooled by the name as it also runs on Windows 95).
Windows ME - IIS and PWS are not supported on this operating system.
Windows XP Home Edition - IIS and PWS are not supported on this operating system.
For those of you running other operating systems or web servers Sun produce a product called Chili!Soft ASP which enables ASP to be used on other web servers including, Apache, I-Planet, Zeus, Red Hat Secure Server, etc, using various operating systems including, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, etc.