When Visual Studio 2005 was released together with ASP.NET 2.0, the web project model was totally changed from the ASP.NET 1.x model. It took some time for me to get used to it, and in the beginning I didn’t like it much. Apparently, I was not alone and Microsoft got a lot of mail from developers who wanted the old Web Application Project (WAP) model back. Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 then reintroduced the WAP model.
I never really understood why so many people wanted the old model back, because it has some serious inconveniences. My guess is that almost all of the people who wrote Microsoft wasn’t web developers to begin with, but maybe had a past doing Windows Forms to which the WAP model bares many similarities.
No change 'n review
Old school web developers like to make a small change and then see how it looks and continue to do so an awful lot of times. The WAP model doesn’t allow you to do quick changes and review them at once. You first have to compile the entire project and that can easily take 30 seconds for larger web projects. At work, we have a web project that takes 3 minutes to build.
That quickly gets very annoying and is just a waste of time. The Web Site model does not have that problem.
No quick ‘n dirty editing
In the WAP model, if you don’t have Visual Studio you cannot change anything but the layout and that is really annoying. When I’m away from my Visual Studio and finds something I want to change, then I’m not able to. The Web Site model on the other hand allows me to change anything I want using only Notepad and the build-in FTP capabilities of IE.
The initial deployment in the WAP model is easier because there are fewer files to be FTP’ed to the remote location. But if you want to make a small change and deploy it, then you have to FTP the dll file which can be several hundred kilobytes. Now you think: how can that be a problem on your super broadband connection? Well, it can if I’m doing small changes an awful lot of times and need to upload them to review them. Then that extra 5 seconds of upload time just get on my nerves.
In the Web Site model you just upload the file you changed. That’s 2 kilobytes versus 200 kilobytes.
What I’m trying to say is, that I don’t understand the popularity of the WAP model…