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WebSite jazzes up server pages

O'Reilly and Associates will announce that an upcoming version of its Web server, WebSite Professional 2.0, will support active server pages (ASP).

O'Reilly and Associates is jazzing up Web server pages in a bid to compete more closely with Microsoft (MSFT).

Today, the company will announce that an upcoming version of its Web server, WebSite Professional 2.0, will support active server pages (ASP), a core feature of Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS). WebSite Professional 2.0 was sent to more than a dozen private beta testers this week, and will be available for public testing by the end of May.

ASP is a framework devised by Microsoft for writing server-based scripts that dynamically generate Web page content. For example, using ASP, a programmer can easily create a script in VB Script or JScript that displays the correct time of day every time a user requests a Web page.

Until now, only Microsoft's IIS 3.0 for Windows NT Server and Personal Web Server for Windows 95 supported ASP. But O'Reilly decided to include ASP in order to augment the other tools supported by its server that programmers can use to generate dynamic content.

"It's just another great tool," said Bob Denny, lead developer of WebSite.

Denny estimated that most programmers--"99.9 percent," he said--will use common gateway interface (CGI) scripts to add pizzazz to their Web pages. IIS and Netscape Communications also support CGI in their server products.

There is one slight catch for WebSite Professional users. The O'Reilly product uses the ASP component in IIS and Personal Web Server, so programmers must have one of the two products loaded onto their computers.

Both Microsoft products are free, but some users may not see the point of installing two Web servers on their systems. Still, O'Reilly says it is counting on better security, documentation, and other features in WebSite Professional to convince users to do just that.

O'Reilly will need more than ASP support to help it catch up to the progress of IIS.

According to an April survey by Netcraft, 13 percent of Web servers on the Net are running IIS, while less than 5 percent are using WebSite. The most popular server on the Net is the Apache freeware server, which is running on 42 percent of sites, the survey says.

Pricing has not been set for WebSite Professional 2.0. The server runs on Windows 95, NT Workstation, and NT Server.