Custom Web Portals With ASP.NET 2.0

I really like the new web portal applications you can create in ASP.NET 2.0 so I have used this technology to create a custom mash up for myself. A mashup is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience. My portal features four web parts which I created based on my personal interests. Each web part is actually a custom user control. I’ve never done much with user controls except for a few that I use with Storefront 6.0.

The first web part is headlines from Newsvine. I used the RSS feed for the Web Development Group on Newsvine because that topic is interesting to me. For the code, I used Scott Mitchell’s RssFeed, an open source custom ASP.NET server control that displays the contents of a specified RSS feed in an ASP.NET web page. I had to recompile it for ASP.NET 2.0 using Visual Studio 2005 and then import its dll into my project.

The second web part shows the Stickam online presence of several YouTube celebrities. This is based on some custom programming that I wrote using the Stickam API which returns data as XML. I just converted my ASPX page to a ASCX page to make it a user control. It is useful for telling me when my friends are available for live web cam chat.

The third web part gave me a lot of trouble. It shows the local weather from the National Weather Service. There were several web controls available for this purpose but I tried three of them until I found one that works. The best method used NOAA’s National Weather Service XML feeds and formatted the result using a XSL file. An XSL file is like a style sheet for XML. You can find the source code at: http://aspalliance.com/1121

After that I was getting tired of struggling with other people’s code so I just created another user control for a RSS feed. YouTube provides RSS feeds for a users’ videos so you can watch somebody’s videos in a RSS feed reader without being counted as a subscriber. My forth web part just shows the YouTube videos of a comedian I choose because he doesn’t have a lot of videos.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an ASP.NET 2.0 web site to host my custom web portal. It is running on my local development web server which is fine for my personal use. However, you can view a screenshot below to see how it looks. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

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