Category Archives: Internet

Development Internet

Making the jump from Classic ASP to ASP.Net – Which language to choose?

I’ve been developing using some flavour of VB/VBA/VBScript for about ten years, and I’m very used to the way it works, but I’m realising it’s time to move on.  Technologies have changed, and even though my Classic ASP applications perform perfectly well, they don’t fit in with the direction my organisation wants to move in.  I’ve been putting things off way too long, and it’s time I moved on, too, before I find myself way too behind the times.

So, with that in mind, I’ve explored a little and found I have two options (from a Microsoft and ASP.Net point of view) – to go with VB.NET or shift over to C#.  In this article I want to discuss my decision and why I came to it.

Coming from a generally VB-based background, the obvious draw for me is to move across to VB.Net.  I know it’s nothing like what I’m used to, but it’s pretty close and probably not that much of a learning curve (apart from being better at OOP stuff), but is it the right decision to make?

Turns out it possibly isn’t.

Do a search on StackOverflow.com for questions asked about C# and VB.Net and here’s what you get:-

csharp

for C#, as opposed to a similar search for VB.Net:-

vbnet

Wow.  I mean, wow…  That’s ten times the amount of questions about C# than about VB.Net.  Now, what does that mean?  Does it mean C# is ten times more difficult than good ol’ VB?  I don’t think so.  Look at the amount of followers for each.  Here’s the number of followers on StackOverflow for C#:-

csharpfollows

And here’s the same statistic for VB.Net:-

vbnetfollows

Again, ten times the number of C# followers.  To me that says how many people are interested in the technology and want to read about it.

I decided to do more research, so I jumped to GitHub and looked at their language specific pages.  I started with C#.  It’s worth noting here that on the languages pages it doesn’t mention the number of repositories, but it does tell you where the chosen language sits in terms of popularity.  I digress, here is the result for C#:-

c#git

And here’s the result for VB (unfortunately, Github doesn’t seem to split VB into sub-languages, but in this case it doesn’t matter):-

vbgitHmmm…speaks for itself again, doesn’t it?  Let’s try something else though, as I’m still not convinced.  What jobs are out there?  I opted to look at Monster.co.uk and search for both ‘C#’ and ‘vb.net’.  Here’s what I got for C#:-

c#jobs

And for VB.Net?

vbjobs

Finally, following a search on programmer salaries, I came across a very simple looking search on Indeed.com where you can search by keyword and you get an average salary (in dollars) for jobs matching that keyword.  I couldn’t resist.  Here’s the result for c#:-

csharpsalary

and the salary for VB.Net:-

vbnetsalary

Not a massive difference, but the results still speak for themselves, I think.

Still not completely convinced about the overwhelming evidence provided to me by my ‘scientific’ research, I spoke to a seasoned developer colleague of mine yesterday and asked him which I should go for, and his reaction was along the lines of “you know how Classic ASP is now?  That’s what VB.Net will be in about 5 years..”.

Now I know that might be a somewhat subjective statement (the  guy develops using C#), but I got the point…

Based on these findings, I’ve decided to try to learn C#.  From both a personal and professional standpoint, I think it’s the right thing to do. I know it’s going to be a challenge,  especially moving from a scripting/procedural language like VBScript to a more Object Oriented language such as C#.

I’ve started today, and hope to post more on my experiences as I go on.

I’d be interested to see what you guys think about my decision, and my rather non-scientific methodologies in reaching that decision.  I’m also aware there are other web technologies out there, but my hand is somewhat forced by the organisation I’m working in.  I still intend to learn some PHP at some point, but not yet.

Google

Google announces Reader closure

Google announced the impending death of Reader yesterday.  I actually only found out about it this morning following a deluge of tweets in my feed about it.

In the main, it seems people aren’t happy:-

reader1

reader3

reader2

reader4

reader5

And these were just a few sentiments from the 534 people I’m following.

From a personal perspective, I’m very disappointed.  Ben Goldacre tweeted about his ‘morning trip’ to Reader, and with that I can identify.  My daily visit to Reader is just before bedtime.  Last thing I do before I switch off the lights and snuggle up to Mrs Mat is quickly check through the interesting posts for the day.  I read some, I favourite others and, about once a month I work through them to decide what I actually want to really keep hold of.  I figure I’ve learned more from the feeds I’m subscribed to than I would have without a similar service to aggregate them all together.

Thing is, without something like Google Reader, I just wouldn’t visit all of the sites I’m subscribed to daily to check if there are new posts.  I’d forget them, lose them, and miss out on what I consider to be ‘the news’ – or at least the news that I’m interested in.  It’s a real shame.

Google Reader isn’t great however.  In fact, it’s downright clunky and probably missing a lot of really useful features, but it’s a great little tool.  On my iPad I use Feeedler to access my feeds and I get to process them in exactly the same way that I would online.  Again, it’s a shame that I won’t be able to do that in a couple of months.  I’m sure there will be decent alternatives that spring up, some free and (unfortunately) some paid, but it’s going to take some time to get something that feels the same and works in the same way.

So, why would Google do this to us?  Is it the end of the RSS feed?  I certainly hope not.  What I’m hoping for is that the closure of Reader will prompt somebody clever to do something cleverer and not only bring it back, but to breathe new life into it (in the same way Jeff Atwood did with Q&A services with Stackoverflow, for example).

Looking at things from a completely different point of view, this could be a good thing…couldn’t it?  Whilst I do love the idea of having my feeds together in one place, they can become a source of regular nightly procrastination.  Without them, I might get more done.  Another positive may be that people actually spend more time on the actual websites rather than the feeds…who knows?  I’m sure Google have done what they think is the right thing, and shortly we’ll just get on with it, but I can’t help but feel they’ve scored a monumental own goal in adding this useful service to their ‘spring clean’.  When a huge corporation can switch off services without notice or opinion from loyal users I feel it’s more than unfair.

Charts Google

Chart faux pas on Google Analytics?

Just been checking out the real-time stats on Google Analytics and noticed something not quite right on the right-hand side pageviews chart:-

Is it possible to have half a pageview, or am I missing something?

Google

First Impressions of Google+

Yesterday I received an invite for Google+ and eagerly accepted.  As a regular Facebook and Twitter user I was interested to see what the Google guys had come up with to contend with the big social networking players.

It’s now about 24 hours since I signed up, and with just 6 people in my ‘circle’ I wanted to share some of my comments.  I’m going to assume that you already know the basic terminology of Google+, so I’m not going to delve into long descriptions about how everything works.  Here are my thoughts thus far:-

  • Adding friends seems very complicated.  The circles interface is very intuitive, but to add people does seem a little long-winded at the moment.  I guess as more people I know sign up with accounts it’ll get simpler.
  • Certain things seem a little broken at the minute.  Me and my girlfriend both signed up and test posted some messages and comments to each other, but sometimes they don’t appear on each others streams.  I can click again a few minutes later however and they’re back again.
  • If I want to post a message to somebody’s profile on Facebook it’s easy – I click on their profile and there’s a nice little box right there where I can share something directly with them.  On Google+ it’s not that easy.  The only way I’ve found of doing anything similar is to post something to my stream and set the sharing options so that only she can read the comment.  It doesn’t seem intuitive enough for me at the moment.
  • I like the facial recognition on the photo viewer.  Similar to the way Facebook works in tagging people in images, Google+ seems to automatically know what a face is and suggests the things you might want to tag.  It doesn’t get it right all of the time, but it’s still pretty clever stuff.
  • The notifications area of the screen is a little erratic, sometimes informing me about things that have already happened and that I’ve already responded too.  Again, I’m sure it’s something that will be fixed soon enough.
  • The overall interface is very clean and tidy.  It’s also very similar (I think) to Facebook, especially in terms of posts and comments and how they’re laid out on screen.
  • So far there doesn’t seem to be any Apps – something I’m sure Google will add at some point.  Will they maybe integrate Google Documents, for example, so that people can not only work on things collaboratively, but comment on them through the Google+ interface?  From a business perspective that, I think, could be pretty useful.
There’s probably  more I could comment on, but these are the things that are jumping out at me currently.  Will it replace Facebook or Twitter?  I don’t think so, although I do think with some work it could grow into a viable alternative.