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Rails, Django and .NET

I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen of Ruby on Rails and the new python Django web application frameworks.  Months before Dreamhost had announced support for RoR (and more importantly, fastcgi) I decided to attempt the somewhat hairy install and got a nice little rails playground going.   Even so, I haven’t made a dent in learning ruby or rails.  My time these days is spent on a different framework — ASP.NET

For background I should state that I started working with Microsoft web development technologies back in 1996.  I helped build an intranet for a real estate company using the very first version of ASP running on IIS 3.0.  At about that moment I became hooked on web development, especially building web apps and/or “dynamic” websites.  Amazingly through the nine years since then, I’ve managed to not make the switch from “classic” ASP to the .NET framework.  I don’t exactly know why.  It wasn’t a conscious effort to avoid it as far as I can tell and it wasn’t that I stopped learning new technologies.  Just not .NET.

If it weren’t for some other notable folks sticking with classic ASP, I’d think something was really wrong with me.  Luckily I feel like I’m making the switch at just the right time.  I’ve been learning C#, writing console applications and even dabbling with WinForms for the past 6–8 months and now I’m starting work on a large scale web project where the development platform will be ASP.NET 2.0 and MySQL 5.0.  Both still in Beta!

So back to this framework thing.  The Django tagline says “the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines” and Rails says “sustainable productivity for web-application development”.   I know they’re just taglines, but they definitely appeal to my developer sensibilities.  I’ve had mixed emotions trying to pickup ASP.NET so far.  I’m hopeful that I’ll learn fast enough and either find something similar to Rails/Django or be able to build something myself.  I don’t want a magic pill, but after doing this stuff for 9+ years I really want it to be as easy as the videos make it out to be.

Maybe it’s just my being a newbie to .NET, but I don’t get the same sense from MonoRail (a .NET port of the rails Action Pack).  I’ll try to keep an eye on it and any others that spring up.  My big generalizing statement of the evening is that .NET developers don’t seem to see the web in the same “light” as open source python, php, or ruby developers.  It’s kinda like the whole REST vs. SOAP/WS-* stuff.  Small pieces loosely joined and all that.  Does Microsoft get it?  I’m not so sure.

p.s. — a more regular posting schedule should commence immediately.  I’m alive and doing well, just a little overwhelmed with work and life and stuff.   Thanks for being patient.

Originally published on Wednesday July 20, 2005 at 3:47 am

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