Are You a Platform Developer?
Expect development lines to be drawn along platform boundaries, not language choice.
By Jonathan Goodyear
I recently read an article by Dr. John Chapman, editor of Wrox's ASPToday Web site, entitled "Kiss My ASP" (see References). In the article, John excitedly announced the upcoming VBToday.com Web site as the newest addition to the "Today" family of Wrox Web sites. My question is, why have distinct Web sites for C# and VB .NET? Syntax alone really isn't enough to warrant two separate sites - it's all .NET, stupid! Unfortunately, I see this exact same mistake being perpetrated by many publishers.
A few larger issues are at play here. Do you still characterize yourself more as a C# or VB .NET developer? Or are you simply a .NET developer? Or, do you get even more granular with your skill set and put yourself into a platform-specific bucket, specializing in ASP.NET, Windows Forms .NET, Compact Framework .NET, or Smart Device Extensions .NET development? In the very near future, I believe development lines will be drawn more along platform boundaries than language choice as platform-development specialists emerge in greater numbers. Just as the general practitioner doctor is a rarity in today's exploding medical field, so will general practitioner developers become rarer in the coming years. Web sites and publications that move to specialize their content in this same fashion will enjoy greater success than those that don't.
Think about it: Is it logical to start from scratch and pay people to write about the same topics in VB .NET that were covered effectively in C# already? That makes zero sense, from both a financial standpoint and a customer service standpoint. It is true that developers want to choose their .NET language. It simply makes more sense to offer all content in both of the predominant .NET languages from the get-go. The concepts are the same; all that differs is the syntax. Without cross-language pollination in articles, developers get frustrated when they find useful code in an article on one Web site or in one publication, yet they can't find the same topic covered using their favorite language. It is better to turn language choice into a non-issue by offering both languages at all times and instead concentrate differentiation efforts on the various development platforms .NET offers.
The cost involved in offering code in both languages isn't all that high. Web sites and publications can ask authors either to submit new articles in both languages (which is an easy task for expert .NET developers), or they could simply hire some college intern wonk to port all the content from one language to the other. Done.
Aside from its potential marketing spin, VBToday.com and other language-specific Web sites and publications about .NET represent a completely redundant idea. Lest you think I forgot about the mention of VB6 in John's article, I didn't. But just about every VB6 topic under the sun has been beaten (or even pulverized) already in some form or another on the Internet and is available for free. For example, Google Groups is an excellent resource to get whatever VB6 code you might still need. The VB6 ship has sailed - move on. VBToday.com's editor, Adam Ryland, told me they've received similar feedback and will be limiting their VB6 articles to topics such as migrating existing applications to .NET. I think migration issues apply to C# developers as well, although perhaps not on quite the same level.
In my opinion, Wrox should follow the example set by its highly successful ASPToday.com Web site, as well as other magazines - such as asp.netPRO - and cater to specific development platforms. As I write this article, the WindowsFormsToday.com, CompactFrameworkToday.com, and SDEToday.com domain names are all still available. So are many other platform-specific .NET domain names. Developers should not need to sift through (or pay for) article upon article, covering topics about platforms they don't use. Publishers need to put out targeted, in-depth, platform-specific articles that offer .NET language options to secure their futures.
- "Kiss My ASP": http://www.asptoday.com/info.asp?view=EditorialColumnJan03
- Google Groups: http://groups.google.com
- ASP Today: http://www.asptoday.com
Jonathan Goodyear is president of ASPSoft (http://www.aspsoft.com), an Internet consulting firm based in Orlando, Fla. He's a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) and author of Debugging ASP.NET (New Riders). Jonathan also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. E-mail him at mailto:[email protected] or through his angryCoder eZine at http://www.angryCoder.com.
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