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  1. #76
    SitePoint Member Sasha Smaili's Avatar
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    I dissagree....I have to say that ASP.NET is not a bad place to start...

    I speak from personal experience.

  2. #77
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varunkrish View Post
    But PHP as it is not very strongly typed is really a pain to maintain when the application goes big. Unless you have a good editor like Zend Studio PHP code is hard to maintain.
    Or you could do what we do at work, and 'implement' typing yourself - prefix every variable with its type:

    $intCounter
    $strMessage
    $arrItems
    $decPrice
    etc...

    It's a good habit to get into.

    markbrown4: That example is really really nasty, and sums up what I don't like about ASP.NET / even frameworks in general. I want the control over the code myself. I'm sure you CAN get complete control, and that's fine, but then it takes away the supposed advantage of using a framework, and just the fact that it encourages you not to think about the output is bad enough for me.

  3. #78
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    Hungarian notation is a tool of the devil--what happens when your $strMessage becomes an object? Nevermind that the only contract there is having your developers use the correct naming convention and hoping no one does anything stupid.

    I am in the midst of a massive refactoring of an older ASP.NET web application--pretty much a "rip up 85% of the existing site and redo with significantly different templating and organizational logic while leaving the business layers untouched" type job. Doing this in PHP would be very, very scary as one would have to do alot of testing just to ensure one did not break things. Whereas in a strongly compiled, strongly typed world one can ensure that refactored code still works because the compiler will enforce contracts for you before you can even deploy the tool.

    And, like I said, Mark's example is rather dated and otherwise bad. I don't think anyone has argued that the old-school .NET auto-postback and original attempts at AJAX were very good in most cases.

  4. #79
    SitePoint Wizard Mike Borozdin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    Or you could do what we do at work, and 'implement' typing yourself - prefix every variable with its type:

    $intCounter
    $strMessage
    $arrItems
    $decPrice
    etc...

    It's a good habit to get into.
    Yes you can, but the point was that PHP is bad language to learn at school because it's loosely typed. One can pick it up as his first language, but it's bad in terms of academic teaching.

  5. #80
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    That is not ASP.NET AJAX per se. That is an example of some of the auto-postback features avaliable in .NET since 1.1 and some of the proto ajax stuff that got baked into the 2.0 core, which was pretty ugly.
    That's fair enough, the new-school Ajax server controls are much improved.
    http://www.asp.net/ajax/ajaxcontroltoolkit/samples/

    Still, in any case - the end product is still(and will always be) more bloated than it could be. Saying that, the code implemented is quite good and reasonably sized considering the minimal effort that is needed to create them. I'm particularly fond of this control for example:
    Code:
    <ajaxToolkit:ListSearchExtender id="LSE" runat="server"
        TargetControlID="ListBox1"
        PromptText="Type to search"
        PromptCssClass="ListSearchExtenderPrompt"
        PromptPosition="Top" />
    I still have my beef with the output of these controls though, they're still littered with tables, and even though the CSS friendly adapters can be added to clean up the code - ASP.NET encourages you to go with the quick... and nasty solution of finding the part that will fit, this will always leave a Quality-Code shaped hole in ASP.NET applications. Even in these live examples there's many 'Known Issues' that shouldn't exist in a final release that is in production use.

    But my question still stands, Do you think it's good to be throwing these controls at students, and saying here's how you create an Accordian, DropDown, ListSearch control when they couldn't create those elements themselves? I don't. I think there is far too much to be learnt in trying to code these 'controls' yourself and figuring out the intracies of database integration / DOM and Javascript events / CSS and semantic markup. In fact the language being taught for Web Programming at my university has changed from ASP.NET to PHP.. I'm not exactly sure of the reasoning behind it.

    I dissagree....I have to say that ASP.NET is not a bad place to start...
    I speak from personal experience.
    So do I, but i've come to the opposite conclusion - I've learnt both so I think am in a better place to judge what I learnt in both ASP and PHP. It would have to be a teacher observing the level of understanding of the students studying both languages to make an unbiased conclusion I suppose.
    Last edited by markbrown4; Nov 12, 2007 at 04:29.

  6. #81
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    Hungarian notation is a tool of the devil--what happens when your $strMessage becomes an object? Nevermind that the only contract there is having your developers use the correct naming convention and hoping no one does anything stupid.
    How does a string suddenly 'become' an object? If it is something you have done, then prefix it with obj. I've never found a problem with it really. If you are disciplined about it, it is fine.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    I still have my beef with the output of these controls though, they're still littered with tables, and even though the CSS friendly adapters can be added to clean up the code
    The CSS friendly control adapters is not for the AJAX controls. They are for menu controls etc. Tables are still a controversial issue. I don't consider myself a novice in HTML/CSS, but there are situations where the CSS model still does not allow for the design that I'm going for, and a lot of situations where the behavior of tables is much easier to control than a purely boxed css layout. Even more so if you must be able to serve older browsers. I've been squarely in the css-only camp, but have now come to the realization that pragmatism is what my customers need. In that way ASP.NET allows both the pragmatic approach and the purist approach. It doesn't teach you (you don't have to code it yourself), but it allows you to control it.

    I would prefer that we teach the same to new web developers: Use the pure approach when you can. It's good style and something that any web developer should master. Just know that the model isn't perfect, and some layouts still are only possible with tables, and some are far easier with tables. Tables is just one of the hacks (of which there are many) in html. For some constructs tables are indeed the most correct, like with tabular data. But for a framework I would like the approach which works best across browsers to be the default. Pragmatism.

    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    ASP.NET encourages you to go with the quick... and nasty solution of finding the part that will fit, this will always leave a Quality-Code shaped hole in ASP.NET applications.
    ASP.NET came out in 2005 - after having been in beta for a year. So a good many (AJAX controls excluded) of the constructs you are seeing dates back to a 2004/2005 timeframe where the browser landscape looked different from today. Now, ASP.NET allows you (through control adapters) to update existing sites from back then without changing any code to use the CSS control adapters.

    You could take the approach that the more you build your site with components and the less you hand code html (except for the static parts) the better you are prepared to upgrade your site to follow the capabilities prevalent browsers. ASP.NET controls allows you to formulate the page in terms of functionality (they come with embedded controllers) and capabilities. Consequently - to some extent - you abstract away the html, css and javascript. Now that is an important lesson to learn, one which will provide value for the students long after the current hacks of html has been rendered obsolete.

    Now, if you are teaching the students simply how to survive with html and css, of course you should not "throw" high level controls at them. That has nothing to do with asp.net - or any other framework for that matter. As a teacher you can easily impose restrictions which supports the learning process. Simply tell the students that they are not supposed to use any of the high level controls - or anything they can download from the internet. If you use PHP or Ruby you would also tell the students not to just go and grab a script/plugin off the Internet. They have to sweat it.

    I believe that you already know that the "old" streaming script way of generating html still works in ASP.NET?

    HTML is purely declarative. CSS is purely declarative. PHP or eRB or any other 1st generation scripting approach forces imperative, procedural style language into the middle of this purely declarative world to create an all too familar spaghetti appearance. This is just so ugly that practically every language out there is now used with some sort of framework (homegrown or community) to try to avoid these disasters. The pages are still rendered using an imperative language, but now conventions tells the developers to *not* use certain script capabilities in the page.

    Then look at ASP.NET: The templates are purely declarative. They are a really good match with the pure declarative HTML and CSS. You don't need any procedural code to create a list of items from a data source. The code behind manipulates the control tree, switching visibility, setting/retrieving value content etc, controls iterations etc.

    JavaScript is an imperative pure OO language (although not class based) which primarily interacts with the page through manipulation of the DOM. Yes you can do document.write - but that is just nasty. The DOM can be considered declarative. In that way ASP.NET is a much closer analogy to the JavaScript way of interacting with the declarative world of HTML+CSS than is a streaming script.

    Truth be told; I don't think you should teach students HTML+CSS using *any* server side technology. It's important that they learn the distinction and solves the problems of each domain within that very domain. Just challenge them with making static pages, possibly with JavaScript in the blend. Then, you can teach them about server side technologies.

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    How does a string suddenly 'become' an object?
    It is called refactoring. Quite common, actually. It happens when you suddenly that the string representation of of something is no longer sufficient.

    Consider a pizza shop. Each pizza has a product number. You build an ordering system, payment solution etc, which is all based on the product number.

    A little longer down the road you realize a customer demand for customizing the pizzas. They want to add more toppings, perhaps on only half of the pizza. How do you describe that in a product number? In short, you don't. You need something more structured to represent the customized pizza. Something which can be turned into a descriptive string, which can be queried for item price etc.

    You then realize that you must pass around the "customized pizza" rather than simply a string with the product number. Thus, you must change the string to an object throughout the interfaces of your modules.

  9. #84
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Nothing search and replace can't handle :P

  10. #85
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    honeymoster, thanks for your detailed reply,

    Tables.. well that's for another thread, but CSS clearly wins hands down - tables are no longer neccessary for anything other than their intended purpose, to mark-up tabular data. I get by just fine and dandy without them. I think the only reason they are still used in the .NET controls is because .NET's vision is to make development time as little as possible, web standards don't even rank in on Microsofts priority list. A table is simple and fast to implement and is hard to break.
    but there are situations where the CSS model still does not allow for the design that I'm going for
    This isn't the case, with all respect it must be due to your level of understanding of CSS.

    You could take the approach that the more you build your site with components and the less you hand code html (except for the static parts) the better you are prepared to upgrade your site to follow the capabilities prevalent browsers.
    This is possibly the greatest reason for implementing ASP.NET applications as I see it, it will continue to be updated and fixed in future releases - ensuring future compatibility... But software applications have a very short life expectancy. I will be developing new applications all the time - and rather than waiting for Microsoft to implement the standards(......) I'd rather bring out applications that I Know meet web standards.
    PHP or eRB or any other 1st generation scripting approach forces imperative, procedural style language into the middle of this purely declarative world to create an all too familar spaghetti appearance.
    No it doesn't
    I've been developing OO applications in PHP for 2 years and while a lot of people have a problem with it's implementation - calling it an 'afterthought' I've found it to be easy to develop clean, well structured code with all the main aspects of an OO language being implemented, things like inheritance.
    It's all in the teaching
    Truth be told; I don't think you should teach students HTML+CSS using *any* server side technology. It's important that they learn the distinction and solves the problems of each domain within that very domain. Just challenge them with making static pages, possibly with JavaScript in the blend. Then, you can teach them about server side technologies.
    I've spent the last 4 years learning about HTML, CSS and Javascript and still learn more every time I post here or help someone at uni with their assignment. After a 6 month unit in internet technologies teaching HTML/CSS and Javascript people want to start dabbling in a server-side language because they are just all the more fun aren't they?
    It's guaranteed that when someone starts learning a server-side language they will not have a thorough understanding of the 3 key languages for the web. Some parts of HTML and Javascript don't really make much sense until you see them interacting with a server like form data and XMLHTTPRequest. So I think a server-side language compliments and aids the learning of HTML / CSS and Javascript.

    Now, if you are teaching the students simply how to survive with html and css, of course you should not "throw" high level controls at them. That has nothing to do with asp.net - or any other framework for that matter. As a teacher you can easily impose restrictions which supports the learning process. Simply tell the students that they are not supposed to use any of the high level controls - or anything they can download from the internet. If you use PHP or Ruby you would also tell the students not to just go and grab a script/plugin off the Internet. They have to sweat it.

    I believe that you already know that the "old" streaming script way of generating html still works in ASP.NET?
    Surely you can't have an ASP.NET subject that doesn't teach or allow students to use the server controls!

  11. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    This isn't the case, with all respect it must be due to your level of understanding of CSS.
    I resent that! With all respect, this shows your lack of experience. I'm not going to be dragged into a CSS vs. tables discussion. I love CSS and I'm will create a layout using exclusively css (for layout things) whenever possible. But I am not na´ve, like some zealots. CSS is not perfect, not by a long shot; although it is far superior to table based layouts in most cases. But I refuse to dump down a beautiful design simply because I would have to use tables to implement parts of it.

    If you had more experience with CSS having imlemented multiple designs you would know that e.g. combining fixed size columns with proportionally sized columns is not that easy to do with CSS, especially when reality hits you and you have to cater for the browsers out there.

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    But software applications have a very short life expectancy. I will be developing new applications all the time - and rather than waiting for Microsoft to implement the standards(......) I'd rather bring out applications that I Know meet web standards.
    So, what do you tell your customers? "Nah, don't worry about it, in 2 years we'll have to do it all over again"? I know my customers expect more than a couple of years.

  13. #88
    SitePoint Wizard Mike Borozdin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    But software applications have a very short life expectancy. I will be developing new applications all the time - and rather than waiting for Microsoft to implement the standards(......) I'd rather bring out applications that I Know meet web standards.
    What a nonsense! Why do software applications have a very short life expectancy? Does Microsoft make you rewrite your unmanaged applications? No, it doesn't. If you imply on Vista incompatibility then just don't use non-documented functions and test your applications on alpha, beta, CTPs.

  14. #89
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by honeymonster View Post
    I resent that! With all respect, this shows your lack of experience. I'm not going to be dragged into a CSS vs. tables discussion. I love CSS and I'm will create a layout using exclusively css (for layout things) whenever possible. But I am not na&#239;ve, like some zealots. CSS is not perfect, not by a long shot; although it is far superior to table based layouts in most cases. But I refuse to dump down a beautiful design simply because I would have to use tables to implement parts of it.

    If you had more experience with CSS having imlemented multiple designs you would know that e.g. combining fixed size columns with proportionally sized columns is not that easy to do with CSS, especially when reality hits you and you have to cater for the browsers out there.
    combining fixed size columns with proportionally sized columns is not that easy to do with CSS
    As long as the total addition of widths of the columns fits, it will work, I use fixed and fluid columns beside each other all the time and they sit there quite happily.
    I said 'with all respect'

    I know you're capable with CSS, But your above arguments no-longer hold any weight, CSS support is good enough to throw tables for presentation into the waste-bin of history. It's been proven over and over and over and over again in the CSS forum here. Except in the most exceptional of circumstances.

    So, what do you tell your customers? "Nah, don't worry about it, in 2 years we'll have to do it all over again"? I know my customers expect more than a couple of years.
    Well, websites built with web standards will outlast 2 years, but that's not the point.
    I don't put a life expectancy on my projects and don't tell the client what to do with their software, i'm more referring to the amount of IT projects that fail.

  15. #90
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Borozdin View Post
    What a nonsense! Why do software applications have a very short life expectancy?
    As far as I know, Software applications and IT projects in general have a high failure rate and short life expectancy, Aging information systems are expensive to maintain and most are eventually retired and replaced.
    Does Microsoft make you rewrite your unmanaged applications? No, it doesn't. If you imply on Vista incompatibility then just don't use non-documented functions and test your applications on alpha, beta, CTPs.
    I don't know what you mean.

  16. #91
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    CSS is pretty much capable of anything nowadays, given that you're not supporting older browsers. If you are supporting archaic browsers, then I agree with HoneyMonster that tables are sometimes necessary.
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
    Singapore Web Designer

  17. #92
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    As far as I know, Software applications and IT projects in general have a high failure rate and short life expectancy, Aging information systems are expensive to maintain and most are eventually retired and replaced.
    So, which text book are you quoting there?

    Real business systems--especially the largest amongst them--get replaced very, very rarely if ever. Most of IBM's internal core business apps are still accessible only via green-screen terminal emulation. All of our US airline reservations run through SABER, a massive beast which thinks in fixed-width columns*. Never mind that anything that is remotely related to accounting must be ready on-demand for 3-10 years depending on your local laws.

    * Ever wonder why you still see Smoking Yes/No on your airline tickets, when the last time one could smoke on a domestic flight was sometimes in the mid-90s? Well, it is because it is a field in SABER and you ain't getting rid of it.

  18. #93
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    So, which text book are you quoting there?
    Ouch, well it's open for debate I suppose - and i'm willing to admit I'm wrong on this point if it could shown to be false. It's just my understanding at the moment.
    Real business systems--especially the largest amongst them--get replaced very, very rarely if ever. Most of IBM's internal core business apps are still accessible only via green-screen terminal emulation. All of our US airline reservations run through SABER, a massive beast which thinks in fixed-width columns*. Never mind that anything that is remotely related to accounting must be ready on-demand for 3-10 years depending on your local laws.

    * Ever wonder why you still see Smoking Yes/No on your airline tickets, when the last time one could smoke on a domestic flight was sometimes in the mid-90s? Well, it is because it is a field in SABER and you ain't getting rid of it.
    You are talking about huge software systems that have a massive amount of developers building them and maintaining them. I would say Most software systems naturally evolve and require maintenance, when that maintenance is too great - i'm sure many people have decided to start again. Web Applications, I imagine would need to be maintained more often due to the rapid changing industry it's in, a large software system can sit quite happily and do what it's always done. An app on the web needs to be updated and take advantage over the new technologies available in browsers.

    Perhaps the airline reservation needs to be a new application?

  19. #94
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    Maintained? Yes. But you don't go around blowing them away and rebuilding them for every new permutation in user interface technology. If you have a functional line of business system, you don't rip it out unless it quits being functional. And then only when you have an actual functional replacement. And, with business rules being as fuzzy as they are, making that replacement just as functional is going to take a lot of work and significant risks to get back to status quo ante bellum.

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    There is no point in Debating on this - really. There is no way these two can compete each other. What are we all on about -| ?

  21. #96
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehabm View Post
    There is no point in Debating on this - really. There is no way these two can compete each other. What are we all on about -| ?
    Thanks for your contribution
    We are not talking about competition between the languages, rather what each language is able to teach new programmers about server-side / client-side proccessing. It's my opinion that because ASP.NET encourages you to use objects that abstract everything that is generated it makes learners not.. learn, but become good at finding the pre-packaged solutions that fit.
    PHP being simple to learn, having good OO support, no abstraction - makes it a good place to start. If taught with best practices in mind I think students would be better off than learning ASP.NET - as they need to write Everything that is sent to the browser.

    In addition to this - I shared this thread with one the academics teaching in this field at Uni, his response was:
    Code:
    Well done, and I agree with your sentiment about ASP.NET.
    From what I have seen, Visual Studio 2008 is even more removed from
    reality, with constructs that just look plain wrong.
    
    The discussion reminds me of the arguments, when academics taught PASCAL
    as a programming language (cf. ALGOL, FORTRAN, COBOL) because it taught
    good 'mind models' that could then be applied when writing code in other
    langauges. Industry didn't like this thrust, as PASCAL wasn't a
    'practical industry language'.
    If Universities are told by big industry that they want graduates with
    YYY, then the courses are restructured to include YYY.
    
    The paradox is that big industry (~20&#37; of enterpises, with ~80% of
    turnover) asks for .NET, but SMEs (~80% of enterprises, with ~20% of
    turnover) will continue to use LAMP.
    Most of our students (80%?) will probably work in SMEs, but if the
    University wants to impress sponsors, big industry, then it needs to
    provide graduates with MS Enterprise Skills.
    Considering most web developers will actually be working with PHP for the near future and have to write / understand the client-side code generated - I think it's another positive for learning PHP first.

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    Wow, that must mean that you should learn PHP without any framework. As soon as you start using helpers which generate HTML you are in abstraction land, thus hurting the learning.

    News for you and your academic friend: Abstractions are good. Abstractions help productivity. That is why we use OO, why we don't program in assembly language, why we have OSes with hardware abstraction, why ....

    I would never hire somebody who insist on writing everything from the bottom. These days you grab everything you can from the community from vendors etc and glue it together. That's why Ruby has frameworks, PHP has frameworks, and it is the reason d'etre of ASP.NET.

    And I will repeat: PHP is a horrible choice for 1st programming language. As far as language design it leaves a lot to be desired. As anyone but the most zealos newbie will admit, whatever the virtues of PHP is, it is not consistency and visions.

    Ruby, Python, Java, C# and yes, even VB.NET has been developed with much more consistency and orthogonality. PHP just happened. If "learning good practices" is so important, PHP should not be on the short list.

    You can do amazing things with PHP. The amazing community compensates for its shortcomings, but an acedemic example to follow it is not, and never will be.

    If you feel teaching students to use abstractions are bad, then by all means go with Ruby (no Rails - uses abstractions which is bad) or Python (no Django - abstractions are BAD) or Java (plain JSP because abstractions are BAD). But, please stay away from ASP.NET. I don't need ASP.NET taught at universities, as long as they teach the students that abstractions are good.

    There, I'm done with this discussion. Go troll in the Ruby group. Oh, you already did that?

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    First, do remember that "Those who can do, do, those who can't do, write, and those who can't do or write teach." Second, exactly which field is this guy in--business software development or interactive design?

    That 2nd paragraph is really pure conjecture. Big companies generally look for enterprisey, supported frameworks like .NET or J2EE. Small companies tend to go with whatever is cheap or convenient. In this day and age, I would bet more of those SMEs are not so much using PHP as using whatever the cool, OSS CMS of the week is on the cheapest hosting they can get.

    Oh, and by the by, there was a PASCAL variant that was rather widely used in recent memory--Delphi. Funnily enough, the same guy who created Delphi, Anders Hejlsberg, went on to build C# and significant parts of the .NET core.

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    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    That 2nd paragraph is really pure conjecture. Big companies generally look for enterprisey, supported frameworks like .NET or J2EE. Small companies tend to go with whatever is cheap or convenient. In this day and age, I would bet more of those SMEs are not so much using PHP as using whatever the cool, OSS CMS of the week is on the cheapest hosting they can get.
    Exactly. I really wouldn't trust what a prof has to say about the real world. Most larger enterprises I know of use J2EE as well. .NET is at the lower end of the list.

    The SME's would generally go with whatever their developer advices them on.
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    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    There, I'm done with this discussion. Go troll in the Ruby group. Oh, you already did that?
    I think I may have upset a honeymonster.. Sorry, but you shouldn't let posts / points of view upset you. I'm just genuinely interested in hearing people's ideas on the topic - thanks for your input and I'm glad your done with the discussion now as I think you've said all you've got say.

    and I agree, abstractions are good - That wasn't the point.
    Those who can do, do, those who can't do, write, and those who can't do or write teach.
    Firstly, i'm surprised you would have bought into that. It takes knowing something to be able to write (Eric Myer, Dan Cederholm come to mind)- and you need to be able to write to teach.
    I wasn't quoting it as definitive because it was from an academic - I was just sharing another point of view. The academics I know are very knowledgeable and certainly know how to 'do' what they teach, r e s p e c t - I know what it means to me


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