Sunday, January 9, 2011

Technology discussions today and tomorrow

For as long as I can remember, developers(but also all other kind of IT people) have religious descussions about ‘there’ technology; Java vs .NET, stored procedures vs dynamic SQL, client side vs server side and so on.. And just when you think people start agreeing the next discussion knocks on your front door.

One interesting discussion I followed closely last year(it already seems so long ago) was ASP.NET WebForms vs MVC. I especially liked the post by Scott Guthrie showing some common sense on the debate. I totally agree with Scott’s point about the nature of technical debates, and the acceptance that some technologies suit better for some problems.

However with the emergence of new web technologies like CSS 3 and HTML 5, the growth of REST and the renewed interest in Javascript, I want to re-open the discussion. I think that architecting ASP.NET MVC applications will have a lot more potential than WebForms. Just think for a second what you have to do to transform your current ASP.NET MVC applications to an HTML 5 enabled application… not so much. Now do the same thing for ASP.NET WebForms… this will be a lot harder! As long as Microsoft doesn’t release a new version of WebForms where the server-side controls can generate HTML 5, it’s just not possible.

Why HTML 5 makes the difference?

No matter which web technology you use, in the end all you get back is an HTML response, but HTML has its limitations in that it is static. You need to post a request to the server each time you want some new action to occur. In some cases this ‘complete form and submit’ model works, but we have become used, from smart clients, to a more dynamic model that provides feedback as we make selections. Customers expect that web applications behaves like smart client applications. And it’s their that HTML 5 can really make a difference! It extends the browser capabilities to a full client side experience in a much simpler way than is possible today.

And this brings us to the next discussion, which technology will drive the smart client behavior on the browser? The question of Webforms vs. MVC is already an irrelevance. That is yesterday’s fight and victory has been declared despite a few units continuing to fight on. The next war is already happening between Silverlight and Javascript for ownership of the smart client…

It are interesting times…

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