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HTML-only webbie with a .asp site dumped on me - CLUELESS
I only know HTML and CSS, they want this .asp site up yesterday - help?
scurrilous j

 4:27 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm a web coordinator for a small department in a huge university. I've been managing several small sites in HTML with CSS for two years, with a couple of years of HTML only before that.

I'm no graphic designer, so my department hired a company to design a new site for us. They gave me the files, and it's all in .asp. I don't even know what that is! The designers swore that I'd wouldn't have to fiddle with the templates, but I've pulled them over and they aren't working. I wrote to them and they realized they didn't account for sub-folders (yeah, I'm going to put hundreds of pages in one big folder), so they send them to me again, "fixed" and now nothing works!

I feel cheated - how do I work with templates that are a complete mystery to me?

This site was originally supposed to be up this summer - we've got budget cuts all over the place - I don't want to lose my job over this.

1. Can I pick this up quickly?
2. Where do I start? I read that you need to know a scripting language before you attempt to learn .asp - which one?

This is probably vague - I'll be happy to answer any questions in order to clarify - I'm desperate, and appreciate any and all help. Thank you!



 5:23 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

You're not going to like this - but first, welcome aboard, even under such circumstances.

.asp is a server side scripting language, for either ASP or .net. You cannot pick it up quickly. It takes months to learn and years to perfect.

You need to bring someone in on this, as you're not skilled for this task. Being a university, I'm sure there's a student that can come in and help you out.


 5:41 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Why would a graphics person give you a site design in asp unless you asked for it in that manner?

If your server isn't running ASP then you have no use for files in ASP.

I am curious why they did it that way to begin with.

scurrilous j

 5:54 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thank you for the welcome, rocknbil, and the honesty.

Demaestro, our server does run ASP. I know this only because before they "fixed" them, pages rendered correctly as long as they were in the main site folder - just not in sub-folders.

The problem *looks like* it isn't attaching the style sheet, but I can't *find* where the style sheet would attach in the first place - I tried to attach it myself, but my "request" fails. As if it's a template. It doesn't appear to be so, but I don't exactly know what I'm looking at.

They designed it this way because they are jerks (sigh. . . childish, I know). I don't know why - I freaking TOLD them I wanted it completely editable and in HTML with style sheets.


 9:08 pm on Jul 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

I freaking TOLD them I wanted it completely editable and in HTML with style sheets.

You could insist they convert it to the format you asked for. If they're at all competent they will be able to do so with no trouble, provided it's a fairly small website.

Alternatively, you could ask they for a tutorial on how to use the template system. These things are designed to keep code and content apart, so you can edit the content without knowing ASP at all.

This may well be a failure of communication: to a lot of developers "completely editable" might mean it should have some sort of CMS, and that requires a server-side language. If you meant you wanted to be able to edit it in Notepad or WYSIWYG, you have to be really specific.


 5:05 pm on Jul 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

my department hired a company to design a new site for us.

Well, IMO this stinks of "corporate shenanigans" on both sides of the fence. Having worked with educational institutions AND corporate development environments, let me propose a scenario for you.

First, dole out the responsibilities.

Your department hired these people to design a site. I am presuming they did not confer with you, and did not request input on the project in progress, they just did it and lo and behold, it's in ASP and you're not trained in that. So it's on your department heads as for what to do. Don't take on the task in the interest of preserving your job; They got themselves into this mess, let them dig themselves out. Not you.

The designing company, without specs or input from the university's in-house designer were given carte blanche and probably some form of spec. They did what they do, to the spec, and in the way they are used to. They obviously had no idea ASP would be a problem - OR - if they are experienced at all, SUSPECTED it might be a problem and forged on, for the reasons below.

Project's done, deliver files.

Oops. In-house developer is not trained in ASP. Now what?

From the department head's side, let the sewage roll downhill - to you - see if we can cover this up internally. Get our in-house developer to fix it, even though they weren't included in the development process.

From the outside developer's side - AHA! See? They don't have a clue what to do with it. Keep sending them files we know they'll never be able to figure out, "training the developer" was not in the spec, don't make it easy for them - in the end, they'll give up in frustration and we have us a long term .edu account that requires our maintenance, ongoing income!

This scenario may sound paranoid and negative, and admittedly it's all speculation, but I've seen it happen in more places than one, educational institutions being the worst.

The entire point is you're in the middle of a storm and quite possible being used as the patsy. Re-define your responsibilities and qualifications, don't try to be hero - it doesn't sound like it's your ball and I **know** it's not in your pay grade.

The other side of this coin, review your actions from the very moment the department heads told you they'd be having XYZ develop the site for you. As "web coordinator" were you offered, and did you take, opportunity to participate in the development of this site? If you were and passed or dropped the ball in any way, this changes the scenario a bit.

scurrilous j

 6:13 pm on Jul 28, 2009 (gmt 0)


I was very involved with the design and the designer - the arty stuff. And I thought we ("we" being my boss and myself) had made it clear what our expectations were. I fully expected this to be HTML with style sheets. And when I opened the files, and saw .asp, I figured - no big deal - just another way of building and saving web pages, like SHTML instead of HTML, right? WRONG.

I've told my boss what's going on, that I've emailed our project manager at the outside firm and basically can't do jack until I talk with the coders.

The firm's project manager's last response to me was: "I have talked to our programmer and he is working on modifying coding that will support the classic asp set up. I will keep you posted on the progress."

Okay... so the problem is some sort of fancy .asp versus "classic asp"? That's news to me, since no one has actually TALKED to me yet.


 6:33 pm on Jul 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

This type of thread appears to be getting more and more popular. One thing your department need to take from this, is there has been a fairly major break down in communications between your department and the outsourced development company.

You previously stated you assumed the site would be plain html with style sheets. This realy has to be agreed in advance and included in any contract between two entities.

In future when ever you are outsourcing work draft a full crystal clear document expressing exactly what you need and want. Encourage the developer to ask questions on anything they are unsure of.

I know this doesn't help much for the current situation, but I hope you will use this approach in the future.

for now it looks as if you may need to negigtiate with the devlopers to either offer an html/css conversion or have them provid training on the usage of the site they have supplied.

I might have a workround that you could use. This very much depends on the size of your site. If you have the site up and running on a pc or development server you could simply view source for the pages. This will simply display the html source code. This can then be saved as html files without the need for any scripting to run in the background. If the site is very large or involves the use of dynamic data then this approach would not be of effect.


 5:07 pm on Jul 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

And I thought we ("we" being my boss and myself) had made it clear what our expectations were.

Changes things drastically. Did you get this in writing? Any RFP and responding proposal should be to the letter. If you said HTML, it should BE HTML. Period.

Okay... so the problem is some sort of fancy .asp versus "classic asp"?

My asp is a bit rusty, but they are probably talking about the .NET framework versus plain old ASP. If your original RFP and proposal specifies html . . . it's on the developers. But if, in the progress of development, you've seen and OK'ed .asp pre-work, it makes things a bit sticky.

Good luck on this one, my only advice at this point, however helpless, would be to put the brakes on the entire project and schedule a pow-wow. Get everyone on the same page, no pun intended.

scurrilous j

 5:53 pm on Jul 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks, guys - I've got to go find the original RFP and see what the fine print said. Still waiting for the "fix" they said they're working on - I'm going to wait for that before blowing up. :)


 6:25 pm on Jul 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

I would also take this as a lesson learned and learn some languages past HTML and CSS. They will only take you so far and you'll increase your value to any company tremendously.

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