Paradigms for CGI application development?

Daniel Walmsley daniel at
Wed Nov 6 18:00:25 CST 2002

Just quickly, there has been a significant amount of work done to bring
ASP.NET and ADO.NET to Ximian's Mono:

These may (eventually) provide the features we're looking for - including
Apache integration!

It may not be everyone's cup'o'tea, but kudos to Ximian for having the guts
to commit to something like this. This is what needs to happen to break the
Microsoft "Embrace and Extend" strategy - do it to them before they do it to
you! :P Which is more likely to become the commodity .NET runtime:
Microsoft's Windows-only version, or one that works the same on Windows, OS
X, BSD, Linux, QNX, and others? ooooo-er!

The Mono project is currently trying to produce neat-o parsers and code
generators to replicate some of the groovy functionality found in VS.NET.
There is also a free .NET IDE that looks like it could eventually take on
VS.NET - SharpDevelop. It runs on the .NET runtime, too.

Now, we can use ASP (or any new open-source equivalent) for the front-end,
MySQL for the back end, and Perl for what it was designed to do - gluing it
all together. Spitting out html from Perl directly always felt like a hack


-----Original Message-----
From: JP Howard [mailto:jh_lists at]
Sent: Thursday, 7 November 2002 10:30 AM
To: Daniel Walmsley; Melbourne Perl Mongers
Subject: Re: Paradigms for CGI application development?

On Thu, 7 Nov 2002 01:05:56 +1100 , "Daniel Walmsley"
<daniel at> said:
> I've been playing with ASP.NET and Visual Studio .NET a little bit (a
> couple of hours in total), and this is exactly the sort of thing
> they're heading for. You create an application interface by dragging
> and dropping components (calendar controls, buttons, images, data
> grids, etc) onto a form, and you attach properties/events to them.

Yes, there's a lot to like about ASP.NET and the VS.NET IDE. There's been
discussions about this on the mod_perl list, and no-one has identified an
equivalent technology for Perl apps. There's template frameworks, of course,
but nothing with such a complete event-driven framework, or with a such a
rich graphical form builder.

ADO.NET is also really interesting, making it pretty easy to create
client-side data snapshots to avoid server round-trips.

Having said that, there's enormous downsides:
 - Tied to IIS, which means (amongst other things) high license fees if  you
need anything more than play functionality
 - Such a complex system *will* have bugs, but you can't fix them because
you don't have the source
 - The vendor (MS) has a history of building dominance and then  leveraging
it to maximise their profits. So expect your costs to keep  going up over
 - Only Windows IE users will get the full experience of your app--as  usual
there are little annoyances in targeting non-Windows and/or non-IE  browsers
 - Developers are somewhat tied to VS.NET; ASP.NET can be written without
VS.NET, but it's a pretty code-heavy framework when you don't have the  GUI
builder to help you (but at least you can embed Vim in Visual

With vendor lock-in for your servers, and your development tool, lack of
source code so you can't fix bugs, and a vendor history of leveraging their
market power to maximise their profits (and your costs!) the business risks
seem far too high to justify the convenience of the app framework. There's
nothing you can do in ASP.NET you can't do in mod_perl, and of course
mod_perl has plenty of advantages over ASP.NET (like access to the full
Apache API). It's just that some things are more convenient in
ASP.NET/VS.NET, and requires less skilled programmers.

IMO there's plenty of interesting ideas to for the Perl/mod_perl community
to learn from in ASP.NET. Most of these ideas are also present in Delphi
BTW, which is not surprising since MS pinched Delphi's lead engineer...

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