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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru CompiledMonkey's Avatar
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    Picking a technology platform for a product

    I'm in the conceptual phase of a new product I'm going to build. It will be something that users purchase and download to install on their own server for usage. At first I had planned to write this using the Ruby on Rails development platform. I'd prefer to stick with my Mac for development and I'm simply enjoying the Rails experience thus far. Then, I started thinking about the nature of deploying a Rails application compared with other technologies such as ASP.NET and PHP. It's not too difficult but it's certainly not as straightforward as others. Daily I develop and utilize ASP.NET. I'm most comfortable with that but it's less about my comfort level and more about the benefits I can pass on to customers by my choice in technology. Of course in this case I speak of cost as the major benefit. Next, I considered PHP because of the cost, deployment ease, and overall thought that the technology is simply proven.

    So, if you were in my situation, what would you do? Which technology would you chose and which factors would factor in the most to make the decision?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CompiledMonkey View Post
    So, if you were in my situation, what would you do? Which technology would you chose and which factors would factor in the most to make the decision?
    Hard to say, since that's very subjective, and you haven't said a whole lot about your own background or the project. You do write that you like ruby and rails, so that would suggest that you stick with that. I don't know your target audience, obviously, but I would think that it's fairly straight forward to deploy a rails application. It may not be possible to find a server for 5$ a month, that supports the platform, but anyone serious about their website (Eg. any kind of business) would need a proper hosting solution anyway, and asking for rails support wouldn't be exotic.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy devbanana's Avatar
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    As mentioned, it depends on your market.

    I would go with either ASP.NET or PHP, mostly because it seems the most hosts supports either one of those. If it is ASP.NET, the user need only to have a Windows host and ASP.NET 2.0 is probably supported. If it is PHP, then most any server supports that.

    The thing to keep in mind about ASP.NET though is what type of environment you want it to be able to run in. If only on dedicated servers or VPSes, then you really have no limitations there. However, if it needs to run in a shared environment, you need to test it in medium trust, because most shared hosts in my experience force ASP.NET applications to run in medium trust. I've seen arguments saying it shouldn't be that way, but it is. This is the exact reason I got a dedicated server for my main web site alone and also for development clients, because the applications I develop must run in full trust, because I implement the Enterprise Library as wel as a framework called CSLA.NET. I'm not going to stop using those just because they require full trust, and the benefits of using them outweigh the costs IMO.

    With PHP, you really don't have to worry about any of this. The only thing you have to worry about is the PHP version (though if you choose PHP4, I will officially think you're insane), and also the installed extensions.

    I would say for any smaller-scale product, PHP would be the way to go, unless you don't mind restricting your user-base to those in a Windows environment and also if you can restrict your application to medium trust. Otherwise for a larger application that will probably require a dedicated server anyway for any decent popularity, or that should be easily scalable across multiple physical tiers if/when required, ASP.NET would be the obvious choice. I think that ASP.NET is just far better suited for such scalability than PHP.

    I wouldn't choose RoR for the same reason I haven't even bothered to learn it. You'll be restricting your user base much more than either of the above two choices. Also if your user-base aren't very technical then they will likely be hopelessly lost while attempting to install the application. I just don't think the popularity is there to warrant that decision.

    Of course if you feel strongly enough about any of the above languages, so much so that you would get frustrated when developing in any other language, then that is a major factor as well. For instance when developing in PHP I often think how much I wish I were developing in ASP.NET / C# because it'd be so much easier to implement a certain feature.
    Laudetur Iesus Christus!
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Guru CompiledMonkey's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm highly considering sticking with my daily technology; .NET. Basically, it's between Rails and .NET at this point. I've been in the .NET world for the last 5 years or so and I'm very comfortable with it. I'm trying to make the best decision now for potential customers and the thoughts of turning this into a company one day. I'm a big Mac person (go figure) and would love to run a company standardized on Mac and Linux instead of Windows, but it's just hard to sit .NET down in favor of Rails, especially given my background in .NET. There's a much greater curve for me if I chose Rails and for a startup I feel like any fewer stresses are a good thing. I'll keep mulling it over... thanks again for the thoughts.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast dakine's Avatar
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    Yeah I agree with devbanana


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