Visual Web Developer controversy

While visiting the Assembly event, I also paid a visit to Microsoft's sponsor stand demonstrating the Visual Web Developer 2005 product. As many of you already know, VWD is a light "Express" version of Visual Studio specifically aimed at ASP.NET site development. For now, it is still unclear whether the express versions will be just cheap or totally free when they're finally ready, but at least the betas are freely downloadable from Microsoft's web site.

VWD is great. I've seen several demos of it and built a few web apps (for testing only, so far) with the full Whidbey Visual Studio. It rocks. However, there's one key problem with VWD: While you can construct rather complex web applications with ease that surpasses many of the competing technologies (PHP, Servlets), it's an entirely different task to get them hosted! Of course, you can get your own server on the web, but unless you can sacrifice your home computer or pay for a dedicated machine, it's far less convenient.

Now that's not saying there wouldn't be ASP.NET hosting services available. There are, but the selection is rather small and starting the service is far less convenient than for the mainstream hosts. This is locally compounded by the fact that ASP.NET provision (for consumer-payable prices) is pretty much unavailable in Finland, and shopping across the ocean is always a hindrance for some.

I talked about this to Microsoft's Aali Alikoski who agreed – but of course, had no solution available. It seems Microsoft is working on the issue, but it's admittedly a rather difficult one. Even I (with relatively little Linux/Apache experience) would rather take on the task of setting up a multi-user PHP hosting box than an ASP.NET one. Even if I were allowed to use Mono. ;-)

Let's hope there's a solution coming for this. Since professionals (without problems of this sort) tend to use full Visual Studio, VWD is in a tough spot: if sites produced with it can be run nowhere, it's not too likely to become a success story.

July 31, 2005 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· Comments Closed
Posted in: .NET