Assume that I'm a front-end developer (HTML, CSS)

And some one who got their website built using ASP.NET came to me and asked for a new design and I don't know about ASP.NET.

Then, how can I change the design of their website without affecting their code?

Do I have to learn a little bit of server side languages to be able to change to the look of sites without affecting the original server code?

  • Improved title to reflect question – Michael Durrant Sep 14 '13 at 15:06
  • I'd suggest that if you are not familiar with the coding and just need to modify the interface, that you load the site in Visual Studio and use the GUI to modify the interface keeping in mind that if you remove a "control" then the code associated will be orphaned and if you add a control, some code needs to be added to make it work but if you are just changing layout and what not but the controls are still the same, you can do it visually there and not worry too much (although in some cases it can affect the code too) about the code. If you have a sample page to post, I can tell you. – GµårÐïåñ Sep 14 '13 at 16:33

You will need to edit pages (that probably have a .aspx extension) that have both html and some server side code mixed together but you probably won't need to change the server side piece much, maybe just where it appears. These are plain text files that you can edit with any editor, just like .html files. You may want to use an IDE or you may find it easier to just edit the pages with a basic editor for your OS platform (Notepad, emacs, textmate, vi, etc).

For example:

<title>The current time</title>
The server's current time:<br />
Response.Write Now()

The HTML you should be comfortable with. The stuff within the <% %>'s is the server side code. In this case you can guess from the surrounding html code that Response.Write Now() puts out the current time.

How easy it will be overall will depend on the complexity of the site. A site with 5 pages that are all public (no login) is going to be a different case from one with role based logins and 150 different pages. If the server code just outputs a few variables that's one thing. If you have complex pages with master-detail records and lots of Javascript and AJAX, that will be harder as the code may be more mixed in, especially in things like iterators for collections of records.

You will want to 'see' what the pages look like you will need to either run a local server or have a test server that you can push changes to to see their effect.

Much much more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Server_Pages

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That strongly depends how the application was designed. Using a good MVC structure where all template files are excluded and it's even using a template engine, you might not need any ASP.NET skills, but that's the ideal world. The worst case is that everything is inside a big spaghetti code like system, where it'S even hard to find places to change the design even when you know the programming language.

Do you know if there's any framework or template engine in place?

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  • Thanks Tobias for this valuable info but no sorry I don't know I'm asking in general just in case! – Maryam Sep 14 '13 at 14:13

I think the idea is all about differentiating between HTML, CSS and server side code. So, anything not HTML or CSS could be a server-side code. However, don't forget JavaScript code as well.

Quoting from Michael Durrant "..this case you can guess from the surrounding html code that Response.Write Now() puts out the current time". It is clear that you can sometimes know even the output of server side code depending on the surrounding HTML.

In short, try to get a page where server-side and HTML are mixed and try to change the HTML, CSS and see the result. I'm sure you'll learn in this way.

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