State Management





State Management

Before we begin discussing state management in ASP.NET, let's get one thing straight: Attempting to manage state in Web applications goes against the fundamental design principles of the Web. One of the primary goals of the Web and its underlying protocol, HTTP, is to provide a scalable medium for sharing information. Adding user state inherently reduces scalability because the pages shown to a particular user will be different from those shown to another user and thus cannot be reused or cached.

In spite of this fact, many applications deployed on the Web require user-specific state to function properly. Applications ranging from e-commerce shopping sites to local company intranet sites depend on the ability to track individual requests from distinct users and store state on behalf of each client, whether it's items in a shopping cart or which days were selected on a calendar as requested vacation days. Although maintaining client-specific state is not officially part of the HTTP protocol, there is a proposal in place for adding state management to HTTP. RFC 2109[14] defines a proposed standard for state management for HTTP also known as cookies. Although it is only a proposed standard and not yet an official part of the HTTP specification, cookies are in widespread use today in almost all browsers, and many Web sites rely on cookies for their functionality.

[14] See http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2109/rfc2109.

As a consequence, Web programmers must be very conscious about state management. Unlike traditional applications, Web applications must be very explicit about any state that is maintained on behalf of a client, and there is no one standard way to maintain that state.


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