Developer Spin Cycle

Saturday, 01 September 2012
  • By
  • Jeff Ammons
  • Tags:
  • ASP.Net
  • Blog
  • Career
  • MVC
  • Programming
  • Web

Confused, young businessman looking at chalk drawn arrows

Decisions, Decisions © rangizzz -

The past two years have seen the biggest career-related mental churn I've ever experienced.

Quick History

'97 to '05 I did Java coding primarily. Loved it.

'05 I bought a Pocket PC. Desire to code for it led me to C# and .Net. Since then (2012 at the moment), I've played mostly in the Microsoft space. It is an awesome space to play in, I must say.

'08ish I began coding for WebOS. '10 saw me move to Windows Phone.

What Went Wrong

I loved coding for Windows Phone.

C# feels natural to me. Linq, lambdas and generics make for code that feels satisfying.

I started working for Black Book in January '11. My first project was to write a Windows Phone version of their Used Car app.

I also had a couple of my own apps in the Windows Phone marketplace.

Here's what went wrong. Not very many people bought Windows Phones.

SALES of the WebOS version of my Galactic Beacon app are still greater than DOWNLOADS of the free Windows Phone version.

Having paid $99/year for two years means I spent $198 for the privilege of developing for Windows Phone. When I cancelled my developer account, they sent me a check for my portion of the sales of my apps. That check was almost $9.

Negative ROI is not a good thing.

Houston We Have A Problem

The average consumer didn't really dig Windows Phone. At least not enough to buy it.

The natural conclusion for Microsoft then would be to redesign ALL of their software in the same UI paradigm.

Wait. Does that make sense?

Whether or not Windows 8 will become accepted is not the focus of this post.

Either way, my experiences with Windows Phone showed me that Microsoft could fail.

One Basket

OK, so I've spent the past several years getting all my eggs into one basket.

That's fine as long as that basket doesn't have any holes in its bottom.

Now it looks like there is a fair chance there might be some holes.

Distributed Baskitechture

Time to get some more baskets, hedge some bets and mix some metaphors.

The feeling that the money I paid to develop for Windows Phone was eaten by a black hole made me think.

This was a microcosm of my larger choices.

To develop for the Microsoft ecosystem you really need an MSDN subscription. Those are not cheap. Without it you cannot legally set up server VMs for development. You are hamstrung.

If you look to the open source side of things, you do not need those expensive licenses for development OR production.

really like ASP MVC and C#. However, I know that I have been productive with open source tools in the past. Hmm.

What's The Plan?

I'm still formulating my plan, but here's the current status.

My notebook has:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  • Ubuntu 12.04
Those are the bootable options. I'll also throw several others into VMs, including server OS installs.

My websites are:

On the Microsoft/.Net front I'm working with:
  • ASP.Net 4 Web Forms (Black Book apps)
  • ASP.Net 4 MVC (Personal Projects)
For the time being I'm ignoring anything other than web development. I may or may not build some Metro Nom-Du-Jour apps. I'm waiting to see what happens with Windows 8.

 Other Baskets

Obviously Ubuntu isn't in the Microsoft camp, but it is just the beginning.

Now that I own an Android phone, it might make sense to look into Android/Android-Java.

I am evaluating other web stacks that work on Ubuntu/GNU Linux.

Possible stacks:

  • Java/JEE/Spring - Obvious choice since I was a Java head once upon a time
  • Node.js - The cool kids seem to be hanging out here
  • Ruby On Rails - The cool kids used to hang out here
  • PHP/LAMP - Love the LAM part, just not sure about that P
  • Mono/ASP MVC - Haven't found implementation yet
I really don't know which of these options will make sense, but this outlines my current base of exploration.

I will blog about what I learn and what I decide.

Stay Tuned.