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Microsoft Visual Studio 2005

Customer Solution Case Study

National Health Service Improves Patient Care

for 59 Million Citizens

Overview “The most dramatic result of this migration

Country: United Kingdom
Industry: Healthcare
has been the five-fold increase in
performance. Die-hard ASP fans need to
Customer Profile
The Information Authority of the
seriously consider ASP.NET 2.0. The potential
United Kingdom National Health performance increase is enormous.”
Service produces the Web site that
Raymond Schofield, Webmaster, NHS Information Authority
serves the healthcare needs of The National Health Service (NHS) provides healthcare
more than 50 million citizens in
England. for 59.6 million citizens of the United Kingdom. Recent
initiatives have mandated improvements in the way
Business Situation
Anticipating growth in the number citizens access healthcare and other government
of site visitors and the need for new services. As a result, NHS anticipates that greater
capabilities, the National Health
Service wanted to improve numbers of patients and healthcare providers will need
performance and accessibility. to access information using the NHS Web site. To meet
Solution this challenge, NHS realized it needed to improve site
Developers migrated the site to performance. A team of developers migrated the site
Microsoft® ASP.NET 2.0 in only four
months. from ASP to Microsoft® ASP.NET 2.0 in only four months,
improving performance five times compared to the
 Five-fold increase in performance
previous Web site. With these changes and using
 Up to 40 percent increase in Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005 development system, NHS
developer productivity
 Enhanced scalability and
is meeting customer service and accessibility mandates
improved reliability and exceeding performance expectations. Poised to add
 A solid foundation for future
improvements advanced capabilities to its Web site, NHS is prepared to
improve patient service even more in the future.
Fast Facts Situation
Time t o 4 months The National Health Service (NHS)
complet e was set up 56 years ago and now Solution
ASP .NET 2.0 provides healthcare for some 59.6 The NHS Information Authority
migra tion million citizens of the United migrated its Web site to Microsoft®
Number of 12 Kingdom. With 1.2 million employees, ASP.NET 2.0. Raymond Schofield,
develop er s
it is Europe’s largest organization and Programme Webmaster, led a
Number of 12,000 the third largest employer in the team of 12 developers to complete
pages b ef ore
world. State-run, and completely free the migration in only four months.
migra tion
to all users, the NHS has won acclaim
Number of 800
pag es af ter by the World Health Organization as The site already was running Active
migra tion one of the best health services in the Server Pages (ASP) so it was a natural
Increa se in 5X world. progression to use ASP.NET.
per formance
with ASP .NET The NHS Information Authority Schofield says, “We had been
2.0 produces the corporate Web site, evaluating going to ASP.NET, but
Increa se in 30 to 40, where citizens can find when we saw all that ASP.NET 2.0
de veloper percent health information and access could do, we decided to go straight to
with ASP .NET healthcare services. The impetus to ASP.NET 2.0.”
2.0 provide improved access to NHS
Increa se in sit e 40 percent resources and services is being driven The team used Microsoft Visual
user s Sinc e from two fronts. First, from within, the Studio® development system and the
implem en ting NHS is changing the way it works, to C# programming language for the
make sure patients always come first. migration. Version control was
Second, from outside the handled using Microsoft Visual
organization, a broader government SourceSafe® 6.0d version control
initiative aims at modernizing public software. “We liked the fact that there
access to government services. Part was plenty of documentation and
of that initiative involves mandating example code for C#,” says Schofield.
increased access to services through “We also liked the ability to create
“Built-in controls in the Internet. Until April 2005, the Web site was produced
automatic documentation.”

ASP.NET 2.0 to help by the NHS Information Authority. This The NHS team found three features of
us manage user work is now part of NHS Connect, the
agency delivering the National
ASP.NET particularly useful: Master
Pages, the ability to develop without
accounts and Programme for Information solution files, and the App_Code
personalize the Technology. directory.

content and layout Anticipating greater numbers of site Master Pages

of pages will take us users and a need for advanced
capabilities, the NHS Information
Master pages are a new feature in
ASP.NET 2.0 to help organizations
several steps closer Authority wanted to improve reduce Web application development
to the goal of performance and accessibility. time by defining a single location to

Raymond Schofield, Webmaster, NHS
Information Authority
maintain a consistent look and feel in
a site. By using master pages,
developers can design a template
that can be used to generate a
common layout for many pages in the

“The NHS Web site has a very strict

interface and accessibility
requirements, with a single layout.
Using master pages made it easier for
developers to keep a rigid structure in
place,” says Schofield.

Master pages greatly simplify the task

of making a Web application look
consistent, regardless of how many
pages are involved, which is
beneficial for working with the 800-
page Web site. Because
Schofield and his team avoided
having to repeat the layout code, they
saved considerable time. In addition,
master pages gave them the
flexibility they needed because a
master page can contain any HTML or
control that can be found on a classic
ASP.NET page.

Developing Without the Solution Files

Schofield and his team liked the way
ASP.NET 2.0 handled solution files.
“The lack of solution files helps us
separate Visual Studio from Visual
SourceSafe. Without having to worry
about solution files and project files,
we can use the SourceSafe client
quite comfortably outside of Visual
Studio,” says Stuart Lawton, Team
Leader at the NHS Information
The NHS Web site architecture benefits
from the use of Microsoft software

The Migration
App_Code Directory The team started with a 12,000-page
The developers also found the site and migrated it to an
app_code directory useful for storing approximately 800-page site running
common Dynamic Link Libraries ASP.NET 2.0. Because the site is
(DLLs) and other functions. highly integrated, Schofield’s team
“The app_code directory is especially was not able to break the project into
helpful when it comes to underlying pieces, and had to elect to migrate it
code classes and name spaces,” says all at once.
The team didn’t face any major
challenges. “That's the beauty of
ASP.NET 2.0. It did everything we
wanted it to do,” says Lawton.

The NHS Information Authority and its By making extensive use of the
Web site consumers have benefited app_code directory, we've actually
from the Microsoft development upgraded our internal procedures to
environment and ASP.NET 2.0, include more testing to make sure
including a massive performance that the site's correct before it goes
increase, improved productivity, and live,” comments Schofield.
enhanced scalability.
Enhanced Scalability and Improved
Five-Fold Increase in Performance Reliability
“The most dramatic result of this The corporate site has met the
migration has been the five-fold challenge of the expected increase in
increase in performance, an usage, with room to grow.
improvement noticed by site users,”
comments Schofield. “In fact, we’re “When we went live with the new site,
getting feedback from site users, we were getting something like 3,000
congratulating us on having a faster users an hour. Seven months later,
site. Die-hard ASP fans need to the site is up to 5,000 users an hour,
seriously consider ASP.NET 2.0. The an increase of 40 percent, and it's still
“That's the beauty potential performance increase is performing at the same levels,” says

of ASP.NET 2.0. It enormous.” Schofield.

did everything we Up to 40 Percent Increase in As for scalability, Schofield and his

wanted it to do.” Developer Productivity

Another difference has been the
team haven’t yet maximized
performance of the code. They
Stuart Lawton, Team Leader, NHS improved productivity of developers haven’t needed to. “We’re nowhere
Information Authority working with ASP.NET 2.0. Compared near the limits of what’s possible with
to development the team did with ASP.NET 2.0,” remarks Schofield.
ASP, Schofield’s team experienced a
30 to 40 percent improvement in Lawton adds, “We haven't had to do
productivity. anything to the code we've written.
We haven't used any of the caching
ASP.NET also improves the end capabilities available with ASP.NET
product. “ASP.NET 2.0 causes the Web 2.0.”
developers to think a lot more about
how they go about laying out a page, The site—and the code—have been
so both the design and the code is completely reliable. “Since we went
better,” remarks Lawton. live, the servers have never crashed,”
says Schofield.
Using ASP.NET 2.0, Schofield’s team
found it was easy to pre-compile the A Solid Foundation for Future
site, making it easier to find bugs and Improvements
errors. “Under classic ASP, we just ran With plans to improve site
things, and nothing was really vetted. performance and the user experience
For More Information even more, the NHS Information Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
For more information about Authority development team has a lot Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 is the
Microsoft products and services, call more ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Studio world’s most popular development
the Microsoft Sales Information 2005 features to enjoy. environment for designing,
Center at (800) 426-9400. In developing, and testing next-
Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Schofield foresees taking advantage generation Windows®-based solutions
Information Centre at (877) 568- of caching facilities in ASP.NET 2.0. and Web applications and services. By
2495. Customers who are deaf or “We expect to benefit greatly from improving the development
hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft row-level caching, when it becomes experience for Windows, the Web,
text telephone (TTY/TDD) services available with the release of Microsoft mobile devices, and Microsoft Office,
at (800) 892-5234 in the United SQL Server™ 2005.” Visual Studio 2005 helps
States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. organizations deliver a variety of
Outside the 50 United States and With an emphasis on putting the solutions more productively than ever
Canada, please contact your local patient first, the public-facing before. Visual Studio Team System
Microsoft subsidiary. To access will become increasingly user friendly, expands the product line with new
information using the World Wide allowing users to personalize the site software tools that enable greater
Web, go to: according to their needs. communication and collaboration
throughout the development life
For more information about United “Being able to customize our pages cycle. With Visual Studio 2005,
Kingdom National Health Service with Web Parts will serve people businesses can deliver modern
products and services, visit the Web better and help them meet their service-oriented solutions more
site at: healthcare needs more easily. Built-in efficiently.
controls in ASP.NET 2.0 to help us
manage user accounts and For more information on Visual Studio
personalize the content and layout of 2005, go to:
pages will take us several steps closer
to the goal of personalized pages,”
says Schofield. Acquire Visual Studio:

Software and Services  Microsoft Visual SourceSafe 6.0

 Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003  Technologies
© 2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
This case study is for informational purposes only.  Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 − Microsoft ASP .NET 2.0
IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft, MSDN, the  Windows Server System™ − C#
.NET logo, Visual Studio, the Visual Studio logo, Visual
SourceSafe, and Windows Server System are either − Microsoft SQL Server 2000
registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft
Corporation in the United States and/or other
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respective owners.

Document published April 2005