ASP.NET: Web Site or Web Application?

When I start a new ASP.NET project in Visual Studio 2008, I can either create a new ASP.NET Web Site or an ASP.NET Web Application.

What’s the difference between these two project types?

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The Web Site project is compiled on the fly. You end up with a lot more DLL files, which can be a pain. It also gives problems when you have pages or controls in one directory that need to reference pages and controls in another directory since the other directory may not be compiled into code yet. Another problem can be in publishing.

If VS isn't told to re-use the same names constantly, it will come up with new names for the dll files generated by pages all the time. That can lead to having several close copies of dlls containing the same class name, which will generate plenty of errors. The Web Site project was introduced with VS 2005, but has turned out not to be extremely popular.

[b]Web Application:[/b]

The Web Application Project was created as an add-in and now exists as part of SP 1 for VS 2005. The main differences are the Web Application Project was designed to work similar to the Web projects that shipped with and VS 2003. It will compile the application into a single dll at build time. In order to update the project it must be recompiled and the dll published for changes to occur.

Another nice feature of the Web Application project is it's much easer to exclude files from the project view. In the Web Site project, each file that you exclude is renamed with an exclude keyword in the filename. In the Web Application Project, the project just keeps track of which files to include/exclude from the project view without renaming them, making things much tider.

Reference: [](


[Link to msdn]( about differences between web site and web application projects. Also, discusses about the configuration to be made in visual studio.