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  1. #1
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    Question PLEASE HELP: ASP vs. PHP vs. JSP

    Hi everybody:

    I am sorry that I have placed such a long post so I may resolve my dilemma once for all. I am an entrepreneur living in the USA and trying to develop a website like autotrader.com and cars.com. I will give a brief background for you to make sense of my dilemma.

    My background is marketing and I have no technical knowledge of the web programming other than what I read online and hear from experts so to speak. Most of my internet experience is as an above average user.

    I have my website "SellandBuyAuto.com" built about 5 years ago using the classic asp and MsSQL on the suggestion of then the developer company. It has been idled for the last few years after a short lived marketing attempt due to financial insufficiency.

    Now I am ready to market the website again after some graphic and minor program changes. As I was searching for a company to make these changes I came across differences of opinions as to what platform I should have my website reprogrammed in instead of keeping it in classic asp.

    Most of the developers seem to suggest php & MySQL for mainly being free and having many developers knowing the program.

    Some are suggesting jsp for the stability and the cost effectiveness for the long term.

    Some are suggesting .net platform.

    I have read many articles on the internet and division seems to be along these lines.

    Please give me your “unbiased” opinions for the below questions so I can make informed decision.

    1- Would it be advisable that I continue with classic asp and convert it down the road to the most viable platform since this option would be the least expensive for the time being?

    For the argument sake let's say that the website has 1 million ads with pictures in 2 years. Would it be even possible to transfer that many ads to let's say a jsp platform. If possible, how difficult and expensive would it be compare to if I convert it now without any ads on the website?

    2- If I should change the platform right at the beginning should I decide between php and jsp since these platforms seem to be the most dominant?

    What do you think is the better option between these 2 or among 3 including the classic asp?

    3- This question is for those who works or has worked with all 3 platforms.

    Which one do you think is most stable and cost effective? If the least expensive platform for this website would cost 100 units, what would the remaining two cost. (I am trying to get a sense of the cost of the platforms relative to the other two.)

    Thank you so much for reading my post and trying to help. Please respond only if you feel expert in these areas.

    Best wishes.

    ErJohn

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Cups's Avatar
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    >Please respond only if you feel expert in these areas.

    Well I am not sure I qualify, but here goes.

    Compared to the cost of finding and hiring the right programmer, someone you can have faith in - with the skills to see you through to the future - these "which platform?" issues are unimportant.

    If you are planning on going to start off on one platform and change to another in a few years then you are expending effort in the wrong direction.

    If your site is really really successful, then you will be able to pay to have it re-written in whatever you want - so don't worry about it.

    Employ someone you can believe in, a CIO, a programmer or a consultant and let them do their job.

    There are a lot of PHP and .net programmers out there, and a lot of them are completely clueless. Some of them are so brilliant they will stretch you, your business and maybe extend and redefine the niche you work in.

    You will get what you pay for, from a nice clueless friendly hacker, who will be happy to charge you bits of cash over a 2 year period to "support" his/her scripts to two weeks of some grumpy but blazingly efficient guru who charges you an enormous amount - but delivers something you are happy with.

    Choose the right person and get them to explain the platform choice to you.

    Asking is PHP right for me on a PHP forum ... its been done and answered so many times ... try using the site search

  3. #3
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    If it's working solidly and there's no crying need to change it, then why expend the effort to rewrite just for the sake of rewriting? Classic asp is still going strong in a lot of markets, and a number of sites are still running well on the platform.

    That being said, any of the options you provided would be viable if a rewrite would be required, and a lot would depend on what's available in your area in terms of staff to do the work and to support it, unless you're willing to work with someone who is not local for development and maintenance. It's a matter of conjecture and opinion which platform is best.

    Don't let the free/not-free thing sway your thoughts. There are costs to just about anything, and there are free tools for just about everything as well.
    Dave Maxwell - Manage Your Site Team Leader
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard Mike Borozdin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell View Post
    If it's working solidly and there's no crying need to change it, then why expend the effort to rewrite just for the sake of rewriting? Classic asp is still going strong in a lot of markets, and a number of sites are still running well on the platform.
    Agreed. If it works for you, then just leave as it is. If you feel that it's time to upgrade, it' will be reasonable to choose ASP.NET. Why?
    1. It's a stable platfrom developed by Microsoft that is supposed to be supported for a rather long time.
    2. It's a Windows technology, you don't have to change your hosting to make PHP or JSP work in a more comfortable environment.
    3. ASP.NET works with MS SQL well, there's no need of migraging to another database
    4. ASP.NET has a larger community than JSP
    5. ASP.NET is going to be faster than PHP with its default settings.

  5. #5
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    Hmm...
    1. Nobody prevents you from running J2EE application server on Windows. It's a supported configuration. Same applies to using MS SQL server from the J2EE apps.
    2. You can run PHP on windows (even with ISS), with some VERY minor tweaks to the source code.

    re: ASP.net having larger community compared to J2EE - that's not even funny

    Generally:
    PHP = easy and relatively cheap to develop, but usually has scalability problems. Fine for the small sites with relatively modest load.
    ASP.net = proprietary technology with REAL (mono set aside) implementation from only a single vendor. It has some nice features, but I would think twice before selling my soul and wallet wholesale to MS.
    JSP/J2EE = develoment is expensive compared to PHP. Multitude of standardised and certified implementations from the 'big guys', most are free. If you plan to see some HUGE load - definitely way to go, as there are many excellent scalability solutions for J2EE based websites.

    My personal choice (among the 3 mentioned):
    - PHP for quick-and-dirty hacks
    - J2EE for production quality code
    - ASP.net - if I had a heap of legacy code exclusively tied to windows platform.

  6. #6
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    There is no unbiased opinions on this. Certainly all of the technologies are capable of handling your site. It really depends much more on the developers, not the tools/languages/frameworks.

    You should have only a secondary interest in the tools used. If one is truly better than the others it should be reflected in development price / time, support contract. I think you should concentrate on describing your requirements instead of involving yourself in tool choice.

    A word of warning, though: J2EE is heavily fractured when it comes to web development. So the term J2EE (or Java) really isn't that much telling about what is going to be used. There's is many, many Java web technologies/frameworks, each developer has his favorite.

    Same (to some extent) goes for PHP. You may want to make sure that is PHP is used that one of the standard framework are being used (as opposed to proprietary/in-house/self-made). The latter can tie you into a dependency on the developers.

    Ruby on Rails and .NET provide strong guidance for the developers using a single standard framework (Rails and ASP.NET respectively). Going with one of these will better guarantee than another developer using the same framework will understand the code. Some (not all) of the PHP and Java based frameworks provide an equally strong guidance; however then you are wedded to that specific fraction.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by honeymonster View Post
    A word of warning, though: J2EE is heavily fractured when it comes to web development. So the term J2EE (or Java) really isn't that much telling about what is going to be used. There's is many, many Java web technologies/frameworks, each developer has his favorite.
    "Get the facts" from the sources outside MS

    There's a common accepted standard for server-side Java - J2EE5.
    The source code for the reference implementation is available under free-as-in-freedom license (compare that to .Net ) from Sun Microsystems:
    http://java.sun.com/javaee/technologies/javaee5.jsp

    All the major industry players (Sun, Oracle, IBM, Redhat with JBoss etc.) have rallied behind this standard and participated in it's creation via Java Community Project (www.jcp.org). Most vendors allready have the compatible implementation. There are several production-quality IDEs available from various vendors. Most are free (Oracle JDeveloper, Eclipse, NetBeans etc.). The commercial one (IntelliJ Idea) is unrivaled in advanced features set compared to ANY IDE for ANY platform.

    If you want complete freedom - there's Apache Jeronimo, which is not tied to any corporate entity but is J2EE5 compatible.

    The bottom line - server-side java is currently based on open standard. There are multiple application servers impementing the standard.

    The company choosing J2EE has the choice of:
    - Operating system (Windows, Solaris, Linux etc) for deployment.
    - Database server (Oracle, DB2, MS SQL Server, HSQLDB, MySQL, Postgress and virtually any other database server in existence). N.B. - switching databases if using the full J2EE software stack is transparent.
    - Application server (SJSAS/Glassfish, Oracle AS, JBoss, WebSphere, Apache Jeronimo, Caucho Resin)
    - Integrated development environment (Oracle Jdeveloper, IntelliJ Idea, NetBeans, Eclipse) and development platform (any OS that has recent JDK implementation.

    All of the above choices are available without breaking compatibility. An average developer following the standard can implement the whole application on cheap x86 Linux workstation using free NetBeans IDE and free GlassFish application server with 'toy' Apache Derby database backend. The complete application can be deployed on Sun Enterprise server with >10 sparc CPUs running 64-bit Solaris, Oracle application server and Oracle database. Or on modest x86 server running w2k3, Caucho Resin and MS SQL databases. Without even re-compiling the code. The deployment can be done by any knowledgable systems administrator if the application was developed according to the standard.

    Compare that to the good (I do not object it) but 'one-size-fits-all' solution available from Microsoft. One hardware platform (anyone who saw 64-bit windows will agree it's just a poor excuse for a joke). One operating system. One really viable database backend. One supported integrated development environment. Several stagnating attempts of opensource implementation...

    Prooved stories of incompatibility and neglectance to existing customers needs by MS - VB6 anyone?
    You still can compile (using modern JDK) and deploy the applications confirming to the OLDEST j2ee specification on the modern application server. Without any troubles.

  8. #8
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    isavesites,

    Take a look back at your post. You are listing choices for application platforms. Where is the web development stack?.

    The official web tier parts of the J2EE stack is now JSP/JSF. JSP is old and is roughly comparable to PHP/ASP without a framework. The JSF spec. was finished in 2004 IIRC, but was marred with issues, especially if combined with JSP. I believe you know this.

    For all those developers who were annoyed by the abysmal productivity of plain JSP a number of independent open source alternatives had been created and grown popular before JSF got its act together.

    So today, when someone develops a site they will rarely use plain JSP (it sucks). They will use:

    JSF, Tapestry, Wicket, WebWork, Struts, Spring MVC, Xito, Echo, Nuhra. These are the ones I can come up with now, there is a lot more.

    JavaServer Faces (JSF) has had a very hard time gaining foothold against these firmly entrenched frameworks.

    So, I wasn't out bashing Java. I merely warned that just saying "java" as a web development platform is not that meaningful, unless you believe that it should be java at all cost and that the framework used is irrelevant?

    The web various frameworks use significantly different approaches. The skill set required to master each framework is not overlapping. Which means that a Java developer will typically choose one or two as his favorites. He will have a significant learning curve if you want him to excel in one of the others.

    It also means that the community is fractured and that you can only use a community or 3rd party component if it was specifically designed for your framework of choice.

    The same goes for PHP frameworks. You need to qualify which framework as well as the base technology. Saying that a site is developed on Java is about as meaningful as saying it is developed on Windows.

    Saying "Ruby on Rails" or "ASP.NET" is referring directly to specific frameworks. When you do that you have immediately also qualified the required skillset.

    A developer with "Ruby on Rails" on his CV can be assumed to be qualified to maintain a site developed with RoR. A developer with J2EE on his CV can not be assumed to be qualified to maintain a Tapestry based site without training.

    Do not turn this thread into a language war. I was merely noting that you have to be specific about which framework goes along with the Java choice.

    With PHP it is more common than with Java to just roll with plain PHP or a homegrown framework. That is a concern of the customer; as it will limit his choice of alternative development shops. Whether it is important to him or not he must evaluate himself.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard Mike Borozdin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by honeymonster View Post

    Saying "Ruby on Rails" or "ASP.NET" is referring directly to specific frameworks. When you do that you have immediately also qualified the required skillset.
    Not exactly, I agree that "Ruby On Rails" means using the Rail framework written in Ruby and for Ruby. However the same statement doesn't apply to ASP.NET. ASP.NET by default means using web forms with the event driven paradigm, although you can use any approach you want, I saw several 3rd party frameworks for ASP.NET. ASP.NET MVC Framework by Microsoft is going to be released soon.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Borozdin View Post
    Not exactly, I agree that "Ruby On Rails" means using the Rail framework written in Ruby and for Ruby. However the same statement doesn't apply to ASP.NET. ASP.NET by default means using web forms with the event driven paradigm, although you can use any approach you want, I saw several 3rd party frameworks for ASP.NET. ASP.NET MVC Framework by Microsoft is going to be released soon.
    By default was my point. If I was told that a site was developed with ASP.NET only to find out that some 3rd party framework was used instead, I would feel cheated. Kinda like saying RoR and then skipping the MVC part (you can, but shouldn't).

    The ASP.NET MVC Framework has not been released yet, and so far MS has not committed to any schedule, although I've heard "months". It may not happen at all (like ObjectSpaces). The MVC framework (as far as I can tell) will significantly limit the composability part of ASP.NET. As such I would expect a developer to be specific about when he is going to use that.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell View Post
    If it's working solidly and there's no crying need to change it, then why expend the effort to rewrite just for the sake of rewriting? Classic asp is still going strong in a lot of markets, and a number of sites are still running well on the platform.

    That being said, any of the options you provided would be viable if a rewrite would be required, and a lot would depend on what's available in your area in terms of staff to do the work and to support it, unless you're willing to work with someone who is not local for development and maintenance. It's a matter of conjecture and opinion which platform is best.
    I second (third?) that post. If the site is working fine for you and just needs some web design work, then don't lose time and money with a rewrite now. Migrating 1,000,000 records down the road isn't noticeably harder than migrating 10,000. Just make sure you have fresh backup copies of all files. It isn't funny to discover the site that was bringing you $100 a day is broken because someone accidentally overwrote important files, and there's no simple way to fix it.

    Finding an affordable developer with good references is hard without filtering by platforms, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. That said, I can't help dropping my two cents:
    • Java is used in high traffic sites or in big organizations. Java developers are among the most expensive in the market. My 9 to 5 is Java, and I'm not complaining about my salary. BTW, hosting in Java almost always involves dedicated servers. Those babies can serve pages like hot cakes, but they demand a lot of room elbow.
    • ASP.Net is widely used by medium-sized organizations, and a few large companies that drank the Microsoft Kool-Aid. In my experience, ASP.Net beats most options in ease of development, but hosting costs are higher than PHP. Not drastically, but noticeably higher.
    • PHP is a very cost-effective solution. Hosting is simple and cheap, and PHP programmers are paid less on average than other web developers. Not because they are worse, mind you, but simply because big companies don't do PHP.
    • As if there weren't enough alternatives, there's Ruby on Rails. It's almost impossible to hire a top-notch Rails developer, but most that did weren't disappointed. (with one notable exception, I wish I had the link handy)


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