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Monday, April 29, 2002

You had to jump through hoops to make Dreamweaver 4 support current web standards. Dreamweaver MX Preview Release came out today, offering vastly improved support for CSS, XHTML, and accessibility.

WaSP’s Dreamweaver Task Force consulted on the new version’s evolution, though the credit belongs to Macromedia’s engineers and management. Their thoroughness and attention to detail resulted in a visual editor that allows designers and developers to more easily create standards-compliant, accessible sites. The authoring tool itself is also far more accessible.

Rachel Andrew, a lead member of the WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force, today published tutorials on using the new Dreamweaver to generate valid XHTML and create CSS layouts. She’s also penned an overview on CSS best practices for Macromedia’s Designer and Developer Center. Dreamweaver users, rejoice and read up.
Last week Chris Laco sent in a response to my "I feel like I am at sort of a crossroads of my server-side development life" post from April 14th. I got his permission to publish it here, but was holding off until I had a chance to respond. Since I hevan't had the chance, and since I'm not usre when I will, I'm just going to go ahead and share it with you:

I just wanted to send some feedback about your comments on a potential crossroads in your server-side development.

I too have been embroiled in the ASP/IIS/MSSQL/COM/MTS stuff ever since it came out. Before that, I was using a product by Searchlite software called 'Spinnaker' that did most of what ASP was all about; dynamic pages with DB access sans resorting to true CGI.

It's where I make my living and pay the bills, and where I feel most comfortable in terms of development. Development time [for me] using ASP/IIS/MSSQL/etc is quick and painless because I've done that stuff for so long.

Every site I currently maintain is some way is an IIS/ASP/COM/SQL solution, a problem I wish to change at the next opportunity for reason below.

Like you, I haven't dug into .NET past reading some articles. While I think Joel presents some great points, for me, it still doesn't cut it. I _AM_ impressed by what .NET is and what it can be. It is without a doubt a great set of ideas and features with a lot of thought behind it. But no matter how good it is, it's still one thing for me: Platform Lock-In.

Sure, .NET _may_ eventually run on FreeBSD ala the CLR, but I won't place any money on that given it's creators, nor given how Java still isn't what it's hyped to be.

The more projects I do, the more time I invest in software creation [or site creation], the more I want to get the most bang for my buck in return, and so do the clients paying for my development time and results. Clients have already paid once for me to build their site/software. In trusting me to do that for them, I think they have also trusted me to plan for their site's future, including where it may or may not run, or from which OS it may be run on.

If they want to move to a new ISP, or even new server OS, they should be able to take that product with them, not repay for a conversion to another OS/platform. For that matter, I don't want to convert anything either as that isn't a good use of my time. Developing in ASP/IIS/.NET means lock-in with no reusability. Developing new sites in PHP/Perl/Apache/ Cocoon/AxKit/etc means non-lock-in with great reusability.

Choice #1 Develop in .NET [and for me now, ASP/IIS/MTS/MSSQL], and have it run in 1 place; Windows, or

Choice #2 Develop in PHP/XML/ Cocoon/AxKit/Perl, and having it run many places; BSD, Linux, HPUX, Windows, MaxOSX?

To me, the choice is becoming more clear everyday.

I'll take smart portable development over quick unportable development any day, and I believe even clients in a hurry to see results would agree when they fully realize their investment is a reusable product they own and can move, and not a windows only service they will have to pay for [via conversion] again when they want to move elsewhere.

By developing in ASP/IIS, I have locked clients into using me, hosted by me [or a derivative] or my server, which makes me just a guilty as M$ at 'the lock-in' game.

Let's not forget to mention that the price I pay for a windows server license could be better spent on a couple more servers running a free OS alternative, which is only a possibility for non IIS/ASP sites.

With the advent ot Apache 2.0, were it is 'production quality' on win32, there isn't going to be any excuse for me any more. Pick a platform, and you can find PHP/Perl/Apache/Cocoon/ AxKit/Mason/TemToolkit/etc in some form or another; try that with ASP/ASP.NET/.NET

But I digress. My main feedback was that while .NET is great compared to ASP/VB/C, and quicker, it still sufferes from the only-runs-on-one-platform syndrome.

Just for my sanity, I went back and reread Joels post on .NET development and direction for them. If I were in their situation, I would probably do the same for _client-side_ software development.

.NET is faster, easier, and smarter for client-side apps, but I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole for server-side development from a site perspective.

For that matter though, even if I were making a client-side app, I'd still be inclined to have the GUI [written in .NET] be nothing more than a interface into a local/remote server via XML-RPC/SOAP; where by the XML-RPC/SOAP server stuff would still Apache/PHP/Perl/etc so it could migrate freely.

Funny enough, that's probably why I leaned towards server-side development instead of client-side apps...I couldn't stand the thought of spending time on an EXE that can't go anywhere, while a site could run cross platform, which is after all, the goal of SGML/HTML/*ML markup to begin with.

Now in all fairness, I'm not eating my own dog food in this matter. I've got plenty of ASP/IIS sites that I can't convert do to time, or that can't get rid of all together because the clients can't find another ASP/IIS host within reason, although, PHP/PERL/Apache web hosts are a dime a dozen, at least around here.

But you can but your last dollar that I will not develop/host/deploy another new site that can't be moved about freely via more open software instead of windows only ASP/IIS/.NET

Just my $2.00 worth.

Love the new look!

-=Chris

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Monday, April 29, 2002

Over the weekend I flew down to help my dad side his new garage. While there I took some photos of a flower I learned was called a "red hot poker," of all things:
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