Developing at the Speed of Microsoft

As .net developers do you ever feel like Microsoft is hindering your development by the development tools they impose on us. I have been thinking about this lately and decide to discuss it, or this might actually be a rant, forgive the rant. I aim to take a brief look at web development the Microsoft way, how it has evolved, and the hindrances imposed on the community.

The Microsoft Web Development World

Now I have never developed Microsoft web applications pre-webforms, i.e. pre-Asp.net, so I am not going to comment on that. What I am going to focus on is Microsoft’s asp.net development frameworks. As a side note, I have not done much development on the windows side of things, but it seems that it has been stagnating. I would love to see Microsoft write some bindings for GTK+ and/or Qt, and support those cross platform toolkits. Pie in the sky dreams, I know.

ASP.NET – Web Forms

Somehow in their brilliance, big brother decided that abstracting HTML and Javascript into a infinitely more complex framework would be a good idea. This is ludicrous, don’t introduce unnecessary bloat into a framework. The page life cycle is ridiculous, all the built in webform controls use some retarded infinite inheritance scheme. Also what’s Microsoft’s infatuation with span tags, they wrapped all their webform controls in them.

Lol, I know this is common knowledge and has been discussed at length before but I still have to deal with it on a daily basis and it feels like I’m trying to cut off my leg with a steak knife. My interest lies in finding the true reasoning behind this. I have to working theories. One is that Microsoft is so loving and kind towards their developers that they wanted to coddle them, and that coddling most likely stemmed from their lack of respect for us and our intelligence. The other theory is that Microsoft convoluted the framework without realizing it due to their arrogance, believing they own the world and the way they are doing things must be right.

ASP.NET AJAX

Next the web 2.0 boom arrived and everyone was clamoring for more interactive web UIs. The .net developers yelled loud enough and long enough that they wanted to have the same thing that they were witnessing in other web frameworks. The keyword here is ajax. So what does Microsoft do, they don’t take this moment and think about totally redesigning their asp.net framework, they say lets create some more complex web controls and use them in conjunction with an uber-complex ajax framework.

Awesome, we now how fresh steamy poo piled on top of old rotting, festering poo. Thanks big brother. Instead of realizing their mistakes they made with web forms they exacerbate the problem. Now we get a seemingly dumbed down ajax scheme, oh just wrap everything in an update panel and Microsoft will do the rest. Besides the fact that this removes all control you have over the interactions between the server and client, you also can not use any other javascript inside of these panels. So once again it boils down to arrogance, contempt, and a lack of foresight.

ASP.NET MVC

Now, Microsoft sees a significant proportion of developers moving to ruby utilizing the ruby on rails framework. Also the community is yelling and screaming again, must be appeasement time. Did Microsoft actually take an introspective look and realize how ass backwards webforms is? Doubtful, they just figured out that they better do something to try and hold onto market share and give the community some fools gold. So they copy ruby on rails, ooooh, way to go big brother, you’re so innovative!

It is way too late in the game, asp.net mvc is something Microsoft should have done long ago. Back when they were formulating asp.net webforms. There is no excuse for Microsoft not to have created a framework like this when they introduced the asp.net ajax stuff. It’s ridiculous, and still they are losing market share, I wonder why.

They ignore their base long enough and they won’t have a base. What are we supposed to drink the kool-aid and be satisfied, the MVC pattern is how old? Oh, wow they are supporting a way to unit test the UI interactions, wow how progressive you are Microsoft. Where is the support for plugins, where is the support for RESTful web services? The point is there is nothing to be impressed about, it’s ridiculous that people are excited, this should have happened long ago.

Conclusion

Now don’t get your panties in a wad I’m not all cynical, I like c# as a language, even thought it is a static language and I like the CLR. Hopefully MVC is a sign that Microsoft is going to be moving at a less stagnant pace. I don’t think they will be.

Things like Mono, NHibernate, the alt.net community supplement the failings of the giant, but we should be fed up. Microsoft doesn’t listen, because of their corporate culture, which i doubt will change. Adding things to the web framework that should have been there long ago is nothing to celebrate, there i said it, “Big whoop, want to fight about it”.

On a larger scale, why is Microsoft not listening to the community more, why are they not seeking to improve the community along the lines of the ruby community? Where is Microsoft’s version of package management like ruby gems? Where’s their continuous integration/build tool? Where’s their testing framework? Where’s there promotion of best software practices, i.e. SOLID, TDD, BDD, Agile methodologies, Lean methodologies? The answer is no where, all of that exists inside the community without Microsoft’s support.

The community is bettering ourselves in spite of Microsoft’s stagnation. Now think what could be accomplished if they actually fully embraced the community and threw their money and clout behind what the community stands for, it would be great. I am very doubtful that will happen, though, I think it will take mass exodus from .net development for Microsoft to ever get the message. If nothing happens the .net community will continue to stagger along at the pace of Microsoft, it will not reach its potential, and the community will wither and die.

There is an entire software industry that needs to mature, the .net community is but a sub-section of it.  It would be great if we could lead the industry in best practices and passion for our craft.

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    About Sean Biefeld

    Hello all, my name is Sean Biefeld. I graduated from Baylor University with a BBA in Management Information Systems. I am currently working for McLane Advanced Technologies . The opinions expressed by me, however accurate they may be, are not necessarily those of my employer. I have been a developing software professionally since 2004. My primary development focus is on HTML, CSS, JavaScript and C#. I dabble in a little PHP and Ruby. This blog is a forum for me to post my experiences, ideas, rants, and thoughts as I traverse the mountain of life.
    This entry was posted in .NET, ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, HTML, Javascript, Microsoft, RESTful web service. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
    • Jake Scott

      Well the only thing constant in software technology is change, so start looking for alternative and better ways to develop. Realise what is good and what is not so good from a framework because at the end of the day it is your bad if you decide to sleep on the same old ways.

    • http://blogger.forgottenskies.com Steve

      “As .net developers do you ever feel like Microsoft is hindering your development by the development tools they impose on us.”

      No, not at all, I like the tools they provide.

      And guys like Scott Guthrie listen – and I could list at least a handful of others (Rob, Phil, Hanselmann). So I think it’s a broad swipe your making. Who isn’t listening? The SQL team? The ADO.NET team? MS a big company, might help to narrow down who isn’t listening :)

      I’ve moved away from webforms, I got hooked on Monorail, then ASP.NET MVC. At the same time, webforms is an event driven model, page controller architecture. I don’t think it’s ‘wrong’, although I like a front controller setup better. Most the problems I’ve seen in Webforms are poor designs and implementations by the developers. Spaghetti code in the code behind, etc… It would be nice imo, to see a MVVM for webforms :)

      I’ve seen Microsoft making great progress, definitely not stagnant. Silverlight, WPF (both awesome, XAML is great!) WCF, ASP.NET MVC, embracing jQuery, Entity Framework (scream at me, but it’s nice to see MS moving toward ORM’s), Azure cloud computing, etc….

      I think they are moving forward, are definitely not stagnant, and the tools keep getting better and better.

      Not sure what side of the bed you woke up when you wrote this, maybe you are in a rut, or just hopping on a anti-MS bandwagon :)

    • http://realfiction.net Frank Quednau

      Umm…yes, you were right. This is a rant.

    • Jason

      asp.net != webforms.

      webforms is bulit on top of asp.net, but asp.net doesn’t require webforms. this is how MS MVC and Monorail are possible. they are built on asp.net.
      asp.net just handles request/response, cookies, session, etc.

      webforms handles html generation.

    • Sean Stapleton

      Yep, a rant. Do you seriously want Microsoft to develop CI and other tools? You promise you wouldn’t then rant about how they are crushing the community? Somehow I don’t believe you.

      Why so mean?

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @jake scott – in no way am i questioning change, if that’s what you think i’m doing you did not read the entire post, change is good, point is microsoft fears change and it therefore immobile

      @Steve – they are stagnant, sure they release better tools, but the tools come out very late in the game and are therefor marginally effective, WPF hmm mozila already did it, Silverlight, hmm Flash already did it, Asp.net MVC ruby on rails already did it

      @Frank Quednau – yep thanks for noticing

      @Jason – yes very true there is a distinction b/w web forms and asp.net but they were both released at the same time, asp.net ms’s way to interact with the internet, web forms ms’s way to build html, i tend to fall in the trap of using them synonymously, thanks for clarifying

      @Sean Stapleton – sorry never promised not to rant, you must have imagined it

      wow the fanboys are replying early

    • m4bwav

      I agree with almost all of your rant, though it is a little overly negative.

      Also

      “you also can not use any other javascript inside of these panels.”

      That’s not true at all, at one company we used the dojo framework extensively inside of update panels, and it’s actually not very difficult to do. Eventually you can build all kinds of javacripted custom controls inside of update panels. You’ll need to once you realize the limitations of the ajax control toolkit.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @m4bwav My experience with the update panels is none of the javascript placed inside the updated panels gets executed every partial post back, to work around this I had to piggy back on top of the asp.net ajax end request event fired by the update panels. This is definitely a hack, and was by no means easy to figure out and implement. A good post about the issue here: http://blogs.chayachronicles.com/sonofnun/archive/2007/06/13/241.aspx

    • http://www.elegantcode.com Chris Brandsma

      How about redirecting this at the community. Why do we feel so dependent on Microsoft? Are Java developers so dependent on Sun?

      There is too much “Microsoft has to provide….”, now enough: “we can do that!”

      We didn’t need Asp.Net MVC, we have MonoRail.
      We didn’t need Asp.Net AJAX, we have JQuery/Prototype/MooTools.
      We don’t need CI from them (Team Systems Build Server)
      We don’t need Source control (Team Systems).

      We sound like a bunch of whiners.

    • m4bwav

      @Sean

      It definitely can get both tricky and hacky in update panel javascript land.

    • http://ohsnapsoftware.blogspot.com/ J Brownstone

      Wow, calling people that don’t agree fanboys. A true professional.

    • John

      Clearly a rant. I could, for example, rant about the flavors of Linux and why they’re so different. Yes, shells like bash or sh are pretty standard but the desktops, the tools, etc. are always different and changing. Eclipse and its myriad plugins are flakey (don’t get me started on IBM’s WID and WDS). Then there’s the incompatibilities in oh…Gtk 2.x for this tool but a different Gtk for that tool. My point is that I hope you felt better for ranting because you’ve added no value to the discussion space.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @J Brownstone – Labeled them fanboys, because they either missed the point of the post or gave nothing backing up their position

      @John – So basically you’re saying don’t rant, censor yourself, expressing my frustrations is not useful. Don’t read it if you don’t find it useful, but don’t say it’s pointless. I made valid points, did not pull great big falsities out of the sky, and gave solutions. It’s people like you, that see something they don’t like and automatically want to silence it, that need to think about their own internal conflicts with expressing themselves.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      I have so far seen zero arguments proving to me that Microsoft is not afraid of change, that they are not behind in the advancements of web frameworks. No one has proven to me that Microsoft is seeking out ways to encourage best practices in our industry. Every thing I see coming out of Redmond is marketing and hype about how wonderful the MVC framework is, it’s not. It might have been wonderful years ago, but now it’s not a big deal. There is no promotion of best practices coming out of Redmond, it is all being done by the community. It is my assertion that they are in the business of making, not cultivating developers to better the software industry as a whole.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @Chris Brandsma – I think the community feels dependent on Microsoft because of the way Microsoft set out to coddle its development community, they tried to dumb everything down because they did not respect the consumers of their product. They have used their propaganda machine to make people believe they need Microsoft to do everything for them. People need to wake up and realize that they don’t need Microsoft, they can advance on their own without having their hands held.

    • http://www.theramblingdev.com Mark Hoffman

      Posts like this always amuse me. What do you hope to accomplish? Or to do? I agree with much of your sentiment, but so what? What’s the point in posting yet another MS rant?

      Most of the posts here at Los Techies show the way around the garbage that MS has foisted upon us. They educate. They enlighten. They have value. Posting that “MS SUCKS!” has no value and is just pointless on a site like this.

      And the use of the term “fanboy”? Is that what you consider “a discussion” amongst professionals?

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @Mark Hoffman all i intend to accomplish is to evoke passionate responses out of people, beyond the inane rabble of emotionless, “professional” in your words, conversation that leads no where. If I am devaluing Los Techies, they can censor me and take me down, that’s there prerogative. I am going to continue to speak my mind, express my passion for what I do.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/mbratton/default.aspx mbratton

      After reading the original post I have to say I was wondering what the goal was — if it’s to get insight into Microsoft you’d be better served asking them as those outside probably can only conjecture. If it’s to evoke a passionate response, well, I think you may be seeing some of that now (though possibly not what you expected).

      Mostly your post seems like a lot of assumptions about how MS operates (I have no idea if they are correct or not but I’m inclined to believe not).

      I agree with the overall sentiment that questions whether the community should even be looking to microsoft for guidance in a lot of these areas or not.

      In the end I doubt you’re devaluing Los Techies though I’d say a lot of how your message is taken is in the delivery and that when you present points in a rant-style article you’re going to get a different reaction than if you’d presented them in a … less impassionated way.

      Whatever increases the readership I suppose. ;) And if you need a proofreader, I suggest Jason. ;)

    • http://www.tobinharris.com Tobin Harris

      I totally understand with where Sean is coming from. I often feel like this.

      @Sean, are you in process of discovering Ruby, btw? You’re mind-set reminds me of my own each time I dip into the Ruby community :)

      I’ve blogged a few times about various related musings!

      http://www.tobinharris.com/2008/10/25/net-code-sharing-inspired-by-ruby-gems
      http://www.tobinharris.com/2008/11/4/getting-started-with-rake-on-net
      http://www.tobinharris.com/search?q=ruby

    • http://anydiem.com Sean Scally

      I don’t argue with your points that Webforms/ASPNET are flawed… but there’s no “WHY” here, no reasoning, no proof. It smacks of bandwagoning, and if you’re trying to convert or change anyone’s mind, you’re not going to do it with a lot of empty rhetoric.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @mbratton – thanks for the the advice I will try to refrain from my use of rhetoric, and provide more examples to appease those who want stale, conformed, posts.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @tobin harris – Yes i have just started to try and learn ruby, and not even in a windows environment, setup up a vm with mint linux on it to try and learn to develop ruby in linux. I am taking the opportunity to learn developing in a new OS with a new language, in a new editor like gvim, and the RSpec testing framework. I am trying to move into the broader world of software development.

      Thanks for the links, I will be sure to check them out.

    • http://www.jameswampler.com James Wampler

      While, I almost completely agree with the content of your post, I think the tone doesn’t do a much of service to the community. If your goal is to evoke passionate responses, I think you have accomplished it.

      However, if your goal is to change minds or even to foster discussion, I think this post missed the mark. I am a senior developer on a team of WebForm developers, and even having a discussion about ALT.NET principles is an uphill battle. For every pro-alt.net post outlining some new technique, framework or practice, I can find twenty bemoaning the status quo or slamming Microsoft.

      Its your blog, so you can post what you like. But, for better or worse, Microsoft made a choice to court developers of a certain skill level. As long as they focus their tooling on Mort, Einstein and Elvis are going to have to find or build better tools for themselves. And, we usually want to.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/mbratton/default.aspx mbratton

      @Sean

      I think a good example would be most of the other entries on this site. ;)

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @james wampler – thanks for the advice, maybe it was a bit terse, but I am just getting my feet wet blogging. Intent was not to slam Microsoft, but rather to invoke passion, get people to think a second about being independent, search for new and better ways to accomplish their goals. To not rely on Microsoft to increase their skill as software craftsmen.

      @mbratton – yes i have lots to learn about blogging, and this is great blogging community to foster my growth, I’ll be sure to utilize it.

    • Andrew

      >>Intent was not to slam Microsoft, but rather to invoke passion, get people to think a second about being independent, search for new and better ways to accomplish their goals. To not rely on Microsoft to increase their skill as software craftsmen.

      The problem with this statement is, the people who come to this website (and others like it) already think this. In the best light your blog could be read as a “preaching to the converted”, but with your attitude, it honestly reads like someone who doesn’t understand who his audience is.

      Insulting people who already agree with you by calling them Fanboys or by saying that they want stale, conformist posts is just…welll, weird. It’s like you are intentionally picking a fight with someone who already agrees with you.

      All in all, it’s a substandard blog entry on what is normally a well thought out, profession website.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      All in all, this post has been informative to me. What buttons can be pressed to evoke which types of reactions. Also I can gather some semblance of how certain types of people react, i.e. which commenters expressed open mindedness and humility by not immediately dismissing the ideas behind the rant.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @Andrew – I challenged the audience to see if they are like-minded to myself. Start a petition to give me the boot.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      Maybe all the readers have come to these conclusions previously, but that doesn’t detract my right to come to those conclusions, and post my thoughts on them. You may think that it was not constructive, but it poured from my brain and soul onto the page, unfettered, unpolished and raw.

    • Stephen Smith

      As Microsoft developers we probably get what we deserve. I now distinguish between software developers and Microsoft developers.

      Microsoft developers’ continuing professional development focus is on learning new Microsoft APIs and the APIs of third parties such as DexExpress etc. They are drunk on the cool aid.

      Software developers’ focus is on providing business value and determinng the best methodological practices and development principles that support delivering business value – early and often. Then they identify the tools that support those methodological practices and development principles.

      Would the percentage of non “software developers” in the Microsoft space who are lapping up the cool aid be about 95%?
      Would the best outcome for developers in the Microsoft space be if Microsoft went belly up? Or at least got right out of development tools?

    • Andrew

      Sean,

      You are giving yourself way to much credit here, you haven’t challenged anyone. All you did was post a “M$ sux!” post, the internet is full of them. You’re basically the internet equivalent of “that guy” everyone knows who insists that people don’t like him because “he tells it like it is”, when in reality, he’s just an opinioniated loud mouth.

      Feel free to post what you like, I have no interest in forming any sort of petition to stop you. I’ve never read anything you’ve written before, and if this is the quality you produce, I doubt I’ll ever read anything you write after this.

      I can only assume that this site’s other contributors will continue to provide good content. If they don’t, I’ll just go elsewhere, it’s no skin off my back.

    • http://www.lostechies.com/members/seanbiefeld/default.aspx Sean Biefeld

      @Andrew – Unfortunately whether or not I challenged anyone is not up to you or I. Thanks for the compliment, I am very opinionated, loud mouth however is definitely a misnomer. I am not at all self-glorifying by speaking my mind. The petition was a joke, but thanks for actually considering it, stop taking yourself so seriously.

      @Stephen Smith – I definitely don’t think that the percentage is as high as 95%, I bet it is probably less than 50%, but I have no proof. I think the best outcome would be for developers to become independent and seek tools, best practices else where.

    • http://eduardo.sandino.googlepages.com Eduardo F. Sandino

      I have been developing with ASP.NET since 2003 with the 1.1 adn 2.0 and 3.5 frameworks, VS 2003, 2005 and 2008 this IDES are good for Microsoft Technologies only, off course Microsoft makes feel the need to the clients to use his platform, but there are out there other good options, JAVA EJB3, RUBY, …

      But is true they copied JVM Java to make .NET Framework, all they see can be sold is copied… but thats the world, when sun people is thinking in the future technologies, like Microsoft is thinking in sold his apps, make us feel our hardware is absolete… like using the fucking vista system that is a shit… and i can run an ubuntu version with 512 mb of ram and have better graphic effects and performance than using a core 2 duo system to run an windows vista… isn’t sence…

    • http://www.kevinwilliampang.com Kevin Pang

      Sean,

      I agree with the points you are making here, but the tone of your post is so snooty that I found myself wanting to disagree with you at every turn. There is such a thing as making a point, protesting even, without coming across like an ass. Now don’t get me wrong, you can post however you want — it is your blog after all — just don’t be surprised if people ignore your underlying point and come after you in the comments when you rant like this.

    • http://weblogs.asp.net/jvano joey

      *yawn*

      I thought I would never see a cry baby post on Los Techies. This post adds zero value. Everyone that reads Los Techies knows about the limitations of the tools provided by Microsoft. Instead of crying about it, they actually provide helpful tips and alternate solutions to the “microsoft way”.

      The only thing this post “evoked” was me ignoring future posts from you.