The Hanselminutes Podcast: Very Shiny! Since I left Xtras several months back, I’ve finally had time to spend learning once again. I’ve focused my attentions in two primary areas:

  1. That which can be called Web 2.0 technologies (especially related to RSS and Mashups), and
  2. Things related to .NET development.

One of the true gems I’ve come across in the latter area has been Scott Hanselman’s blog, but even better has been his weekly podcast hosted by Carl Franklin entitled Hanselminutes which you can find at

I met Scott several years back early on in his blogging career at a .NET-related conference and thought he was a great guy but honestly had no idea how incredibly bright the guy is! Listening to his postcasts and reading through his blog I’ve been amazed at how prolific Scott has become on .NET and related subjects, and how he has been able to learn as much about so many technologies and use them all, it’s just amazing! What’s more, as someone who has focused most of his career on knowing the third-party development tools market I especially appreciate Scott’s deep knowledge of both commercial and open-source components and tools.

So if you are into .NET development and have not come across Scott’s Hanselminutes podcasts, it’s worth buying1 yourself an MP3 player even if you don’t have one just to be able to listen to them during your commute or other downtime. Check ‘em out: Very Shiny2!

1I actually did finally break down and buy an MP3 player just so I could listen to Scott’s podcast. But I couldn’t manage to make it an iPod; too expensive, too "Apple", and iPods don’t play WMA files…
2If you don’t know the reference, you’ll just have to listen to Scott’s podcasts and/or read his blog to get it. :)

VARBusiness’ Love Letter to Microsoft’s .NET

As far as I’m concerned, .NET Rocks! (and I’m not talking about Carl Franklin’s radio show.) I’ve programmed on many different platforms and in many different languages and studied many more than that, and as far as I see .NET blows everything else out of the water. Though I’ve never actually used Java or J2EE, from what I’ve read about it I believe .NET easily blows it away too. Programming in .NET is just so incredibly elegant and productive, and the framework of prewritten functionality covers broad needs and is intuitively organized given its necessary complexity and depth of scope.

Still, if you read periodicals like InfoWorld or SdTimes, you get the impression .NET is not really that great a platform and is filled with all kinds of serious holes. When they do praise it, they often seem to do so grudgingly. I believe the reasons for this are one or more of the following:

  • I think many journalists by their very nature view themselves as the protectors of David in their fight against Goliath. In the software biz there isn’t a more "Goliath" than Microsoft, so they resist praising even when deserved. And when they do praise its often with an implied "Okay you won this one but I know next time you’ll screw my constituents and when you do I’ll be there to pounce",
  • Many other journalists are like academics who are don’t have to solve real world business problems hence cloud their analysis with ideology,
  • Still more are part of the ABM crowd, that is: "Anybody but Microsoft." They use their pedestal to preach against "The Evils of MS", but are usually savvy enough that it isn’t always glaringly obvious. They are mentally hardwired such that they are incapable of recognizing when MS does a good job, or finally
  • They believe Microsoft has too much power hence no matter what MS does, they believe it irresponsible to praise.

So even though I constantly read how .NET is not that great, my experience tells me different; .NET *is* great, and to heck with all those jaded journalists.

That said a few days ago I picked up the July 12th, 2004 issue of VARBusiness magazine and read Carolyn April’s cover story entitled ".Net Now: How Microsoft’s Technology Is Winning Converts." Admittedly jaded from all the other industry press, I subconsciously looked for the .NET bashing as I read. But I couldn’t find any.

More than that, I read glowing praise. Things like:

Despite an abiding love for the Java programming language, Shiah pulled a developer’s 180 at Ascentn’s inception, abandoning J2EE in favor of Microsoft’s .Net framework and Visual Studio .Net tools. … Shiah says. "With .Net, we have been able to bring the cost of a BPM solution like ours down by five to 10 times that of J2EE. Everyone is looking for productivity and efficiency these days. And Microsoft helps you get it."

Wow! "Five to 10 times more productive than J2EE!"  WOW!  And there’s more (editing for space, not content):

….Net today is catching on like wildfire. … A … Evans Data study … shows a sharp increase in adoption. From spring 2003 to spring 2004, … 52 % … say they use .Net, up from 46 %. … 68 percent … said they plan to … use .Net by 2005. … In May, Forrester Research … found 56 % … consider .Net … primary … for 2004, compared with 44 % for J2EE. … 65 % … working on public-sector projects said .Net was … primary … vs. 35 % for J2EE, while 64 % of business-services … led with .Net over 36 % who led with J2EE. VARBusiness’ … State of Application Development survey … 53 % of solution providers … [used] … .Net … in the past year, and 66 % … planned to … in the next 12 months. "Frankly, we were surprised to see [.Net] as dominant as it was," says Nick Wilcox, a research analyst at Forrester.

Wow again! When VARBusiness’ survey asked why:

… the No. 1 and No. 2 reasons respondents said they chose .Net as their primary development platform were ease of use and quicker time to market, respectively.

They go on to compare to J2EE:

… a J2EE-based application is just plain harder to develop, test and deploy. And the write-once-run-anywhere message .. is, to some extent, a farcical myth. … each of the leading J2EE app servers, from IBM WebSphere to BEA WebLogic, features … proprietary extensions…

On Scalability and heterogeneous IT environments:

… Microsoft’s servers, …, have grown more scalable, enabling … .Net applications that can stand up in an enterprise arena dominated by the J2EE platform. … .Net’s bedrock foundation of XML and Web services are breaking down the natural integration barriers between Microsoft-based applications and other systems, which makes .Net apps increasingly viable for today’s largely heterogeneous IT environments. …

Normally the .NET naysayers, even high profile analysts got in the game:

…says Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates IT consulting and analyst firm. "Developers like .Net and find it to be very cohesive and easy to build on. And because of the convergence around standards like Web services, third parties are able to build bridges between J2EE and .Net."

And that wasn’t all. There even more gushing about .NET elsewhere in the article! At the end, they did throw in the requisite counterpoint, but even that was watered down and they made it seem the position of the zealots, not the mainstream (note how the IBM partner talks trash on Microsoft even though IBM is as guilty as MS of the same, or at least they were when I worked for them in the 80’s):

… J2EE stalwarts abound, …. To them, .Net doesn’t make the grade. Others just can’t bring themselves to do business with Microsoft or dislike that applications are so tied to the overall software stack. "With any Microsoft product, you can anticipate some limitations that prevent interoperability with other systems. That’s just the way they do business," says Ed Weiss, director of marketing at ADS Retail, an Upper Marlboro, Md.-based IBM partner that sells Java-based, point-of-sale applications. "Quite frankly, .Net didn’t exist when we chose Java in 1997. It was a new player."

Sounds like his best reason for choosing Java was they chose it before Microsoft had even conceived of .NET! ("I’m sure the fact he’s an IBM partner doesn’t taint his view at all, ya think?") VARBusiness goes on to wrap it up with:

At the end of the day, the two development environments will continue to co-exist, but .Net is sending an enticing siren call to ISVs and app-dev solution providers that’s hard to ignore.

Enough said? Kudos to VARBusiness for painting an accurate picture of .NET!