Hi - I'd like to begin learning .net purely for use within web applications. I'm just wondering what's best to learn - ASP.NET, or VB.NET? I have a reasonable amount of experience of using C++, PHP, etc. and understand OOP. Also can anyone recommend a book for for beginning this? I'm a bit overwhelmed by the variety on offer (and a bit frustrated that most seem to just be full of chapters teaching you what OOP is, etc.)
ASP.NET isn't a language in itself; it's what a .aspx page uses to talk to its code-behind page, which in turn consists of either VB.NET or C#. Since you've got experience with PHP and C++, I'd recommend learning C# instead of VB, since C# is meant for people with your background experience (don't worry about different language capabilities. VB.NET and C# work exactly the same way). As far as books, I dunno any specific ones getting but any book that goes into making web applications using C# and ASP.NET would probably suffice... just make sure it's an intermediate or advanced-level release to avoid all the explanations of OOP.
ASP is not a language either. ASP and ASP.NET are both processes. ASP is the older legacy technology, while ASP.NET is the modern, fully OO, and basically completely superior technology. Both technologies can be used with a number of languages.
Yes you would learn how to use asp.net with the language of your choice which could be c#, vb.net, or even one of the more obscure but also just as powerful languages (j#, c++.net, so on and so fourth).