State of the platform: Are we losing? Does it matter?
Ars Technica launched a redesign today. I seem to recall that they were on ASP.NET before in some custom made CMS. Now they're on Movable Type.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, the choices made in using a platform. I'm not interested in religion, but I'm obviously interested in ASP.NET as a platform because it's one what I know and love the best. Banks, insurance companies and dating sites enjoy use of the platform, but why is it that it seems to not take significant hold at the lower levels? Does it even matter?
I think a part of it comes out of our culture. Face it, "our" platform enjoys its most widespread use in large organizations where process and bloat are nearly an expectation. Simplicity is hard to find because by our nature we build often in unnecessary, abstract ways, trying to account for a great many what ifs. The PHP and Rails worlds, among others, get closer to doing just enough, and that's exactly what the low to mid-range folks want. Simple is good.
I also blame the community's leadership. I don't feel like we have best-in-class anything. I mean, the official ASP.NET and Silverlight forums constantly have some issue, and they're both clunky. We don't have an all-star forum app (including my own). We don't have an idiot-proof blog app. We seem design impaired (ask yourself how attractive the site is next time a Google search lands you on the answers you're looking for).
I love the ASP.NET AJAX framework. I've also totally fell in love with jQuery. The problem is that jQuery is hard to use with ASP.NET, what with the ugly client ID's and such that won't be "fixed" until v4.0. But on the other hand, I see what might be the perfect marriage for jQuery, namely the MVC framework (which I thought was supposed to be out by now). As powerful as Web forms are, I think they're hard to teach people the right way to use them. MVC challenges everything we do to make things more simple and, my hope, more accessible.
On the plus side, we've had some remarkable changes over the years for C#. Extension methods, anonymous types, LINQ, auto properties, etc., have all made life immeasurably easier. Hopefully we'll be catching up on the UI side soon.
I look forward to seeing what people are doing at Mix. That conference goes a long way toward energizing me and my attitude toward the platform. Hopefully they'll fill the seats... seems odd that they're discounting so heaviliy this late in the game.