Dot net, dot schmet…

Anyone who’s used a Microsoft Access database in anything approaching a serious application knows that Bill Gates made a serious mistake expecting people to use that “database”. I use the term in it’s loosest sense. Hey, maybe I’m biased as I’ve had some horrific experiences with the dreaded .mdb files.

But one of the bains of my working life may have just got a little easier with the discovery of this little Access query analyser tool by Jeff Key who seems like a knowledgable guy. Well done Jeff for making this cool little utility, even if it did only take you 45 minutes (including 15 minutes for the icon!).

However it brings me onto something which has been bothering me for a little while. That whole .net thing. It’s not that I think it’s bad, after all I use the incomparably wonderful SharpDevelop to write little Windows apps using .net and I love that. Suddenly I feel like I’m (almost) a proper programmer.

It’s the attitude of several of the large web houses I’ve investigated that seem to think the only worthy technology on the web is .net, specifically, that bothers me. Why? What’s wrong with PHP? Or Ruby on Rails? Or Python (good enough for Google)? Heck, I still spend large parts of my day using classic ASP which works absolutely fine for 95 percent of what I need it to do.

So why the constant hankering after the latest bandwagon? Well, partly it’s because some companies are afraid of falling behind, so they try to keep ahead of the curve all the time. That’s OK, but sometimes you need to stick with what you know and become an expert, rather than jump on the latest thing and make a hash of it.

Some companies don’t understand the technology that well, and so pick the newest thing on the shelf. Using for a simple 6 page brochure site? That smells dodgy to me. Use the simplest technology possible that gets the job done well, I say.

And, I have to admit, sometimes is just the right thing to use. It’s easier than Java and Perl, admittedly (even though I Just Don’t Get It). And it’s been used to create some very good web applications, even if it is still too easy to let the IDE do it for you and end up with a dogs dinner of code.

Horses for courses, maybe. I’m sticking with PHP for now, and if I move to developing much in anything else anytime soon it will be RoR or Python (or both). Bill G can keep his over-complex framework in my view, at least for web development.