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A Technical Cornucopia: Giving Thanks to Microsoft's .NET Framework and SQL Server

Michael K. Campbell also shares his thoughts on the end-user experience (UX) for developers and the upcoming SOPA legislation.

With Thanksgiving weekend on the horizon in the United States, I’ve had a few ideas rolling around in my head for a week or so that I wanted to share. Sadly, none of them is baked enough to be a full-blown article. So, I’ve chosen a bit of a cop-out and decided to provide a bit of a cornucopia of content and ideas that will hopefully resonate in one way or another.

On the Stability and Versatility of the .NET Framework

Despite my kvetching about various aspects of the .NET Framework, I’m frequently blown away by how amazing and secure the .NET Framework really is. This is especially true when I remember that the bulk of it was written more than a decade ago. Oh sure, we’re on .NET Framework 4.0 now, and we’ve seen some great improvements, tweaks, modifications, and additions over the years. But the essence of the framework itself remains effectively the same. Couple that with how few security exploits, problems, and advisories there have been in the past decade. It’s very safe to say that the .NET Framework has been a resounding success in its own right.

Although it might seem a bit pithy because Thanksgiving is around the corner, I can say that I’m truly grateful for the .NET Framework. Oh sure, we’ve had our spats over the past decade. However, for every time I’ve been floored when it has done something stupid, I’m positive that it’s been able to roll its eyes ten-fold at many of the dumb things I’ve done. After an entire decade of coding with the .NET Framework (or even against it), it’s really been a very faithful friend that I’ve truly grown to love as we’ve taken on one tough project after another.

It’s About the  UX, Stupid (or Thoughts on Asynchronous UIs)

There’s been a decent amount of debate recently within the .NET developer community about Silverlight and HTML5. I won’t go into my thoughts on that debate here (although, suffice it to say that they’re roughly in line with my thoughts on ASP.NET Web Forms versus  ASP.NET MVC), but it goes without saying that developer productivity is an important aspect of development in general. Application reach is also an important aspect of development. Consequently, both sides of the HTML5 versus Silverlight argument are equally valid—depending on context, intent, and need.

However, I worry that developer productivity doesn’t always trump end-user experience (UX). To that end, I wanted to share a fantastically well-researched and well-written post from Alex MacGraw in which he discusses how asynchronous UIs are the future of web UIs. And although Alex is focusing on HTML5 implementations, I see absolutely no reason why the principles that he professes in this article can’t be applied to all development efforts.

Random Thoughts on SQL Server Licensing and NoSQL

Having focused predominantly on SQL Server consulting for the past six years, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that SQL Server has been insanely good to me. Frankly, this is great because I’ve loved SQL Server ever since I laid eyes on it in 1999.

Although I’ve assumed that SQL Server would always be around, a couple of things have made me begin to contemplate that this might not be the case. I still think that SQL Server is very strong and will continue to be around as a strong and powerful offering for a long time to come, but two things have recently caused me to get the faintest inkling that I can’t always take SQL Server for granted and that it'll simply be there as it always has been.

The first of those is the continued focus by developers on NoSQL solutions. As a developer who has spent too much time wiring up parameters in .NET solutions, I can definitely identify with developers and see why so many would be happy to get away from needing to interact with a relational database. Furthermore, as a consultant who frequently helps organizations deal with performance-related or security-centered problems that stem from a lack of developer understanding of key scalability and security concerns relating to relational databases, I can see why NoSQL looks tantalizing for many organizations and developers. As I pointed out a while back, I think the best solution for a lack of understanding about performance and security is simply more training because I believe that NoSQL is primarily suited for highly specialized applications—not for overall business.

With that said, I’d be a fool to ignore the increasing popularity and benefits of various NoSQL offerings and platforms. Similarly, I’d also be a fool not to assume that SQL Server's new licensing changes will potentially alienate a few customers as well—either to the point in which they won’t upgrade to SQL Server 2012 or to the point in which they might look at MySQL or NoSQL as alternatives. Although I’m sure that SQL Server will continue to provide me with many great and exciting adventures to come, and I’m sure it'll continue to be a powerhouse for its customers, for the first time ever I’ve actually caught the faintest glimpse of an idea that I can’t just take SQL Server for granted.

My Thoughts on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

Finally, I anguished over several different ways to try and interject my sentiments on the government’s increasing propensity to over-reach in terms of policy while simultaneously failing to correct actual problems, especially as it relates to the upcoming legislation in the United States for Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). First and foremost, I think that copyright holders have every right to be livid and to seek remediation for the rampant theft that has pervaded our culture through piracy. Simply stated, theft is theft, and as Internet users continue to turn a blind eye to piracy, we’ll continue to see draconian and heavy-handed attempts to put policies in place that'll hurt everyone—not just the thieves. (In many ways, I can’t help but see this situation as being analogous to how the medical community refused to “police” bad doctors many years ago—to the point in which lawyers, malpractice insurance providers, and the courts jumped in—leaving us all holding the bag of increased costs, complexity, and regulation.)

It also goes without saying that there’s huge money involved in SOPA, and I’m convinced that this regulation goes entirely too far—simply because it violates the sacred right to due process. Likewise, I’m also convinced it’s wrong simply because Go Daddy is in favor of it. And without waxing too political, the only reason I think that Go Daddy, a DNS registrar and hosting provider, would be in favor of such a draconian scheme would be because they hope that enforcement of this legislation would be so costly that it would be impossible for many of their competitors to pull it off. Stated differently, rather than compete in terms of substance, offerings, and price, it appears that Go Daddy would prefer to operate in an environment in which huge regulations would put many of its  competitors out of business. Frankly, this is another indictment of how vastly over-reaching and abusive SOPA will be if passed.

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