To .NET or not .NET
I come from a coding background where we always tried to keep application sizes down and memory utilization low. So, if I can create an application which results in a 1-2MB download, I’m really happy. Even my biggest application is probably under 5MB. Sure, I realize that in today’s world of multi-gigabyte game and application downloads, that is an anachronism but I still like keeping my application sizes small
Because of this obsessive-compulsive desire (or rather, need) to keep application sizes small, I have not looked at .NET as a possible development platform for my personal projects. Sure, I’ve done .NET development when I worked for different companies. Since internal deployment was via the network, the 20MB or so download for the core framework wasn’t that big a deal. However, when you distribute software (and freeware at that) over the Internet, I really feel bad when I have to ask somebody to download a hefty runtime before they can run my app.
So what has changed? In a sense, nothing? .NET 3.0 is out and the framework now stand at around 50MB and the basic situation is the same. If you don’t have the .NET 3.0 framework installed, you still have to go through a 50MB download. But what’s new is what the framework offers. The possibilities are (while not endless) quite interesting I love what the framework promises with the 3.0 iteration and the ease with which much of it can be done. Being a software junkie, I’m allured by the new UI elements and what they can do for my own application. In fact, I’m definitely considering shifting to .NET 3.0 at least for some of my applications.
Of course, there are issues. The aforementioned hefty download being but one issue. The other is deployment of web apps. Sure, .NET 3.0 offers beguiling promises for web applications – the possibility to have a really nice web interface for your applications. But as far as I understand, in order to develop and run web applications using .NET 3.0, you still need a Windows server running IIS. And how stable are Windows servers? Personally, I haven’t had much luck with Windows as a web server and I really wouldn’t want all of my critical sites on a Windows server. So that makes .NET 3.0 web apps, (at least for me) something nice to play with but not something I’d want to use on a production basis. But that is just based on my own personal requirements and situation. Your mileage will certainly vary