Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ASP.NET 2 with Mono, a success story

Sorry for the long delay from the last post, but I've been very busy doing my first commercial web site. Not so complicated, only a reserved portal where customers and agents can control
their situation by viewing invoices, orders and so on...
It took me two weeks to have that portal ready, but now I can say that I'm almost satisfied.

Three weeks ago, after a lot of study on many frameworks (including Zope and Plone of course), I've decided to take a look at ASP.NET. Mono 2.0 was released and now it supports ASP.NET 2, so ASP.NET 2 could be an open choice.
Unfortunately, the Mono website does not provide too much documentation so I've browsed the Microsoft's web pages where I've found a lot of videos with good tutorials on many aspects of this framework. The next step was: ok, it seems to be the right choice, now, what system I have to use to develop? What IDE?
MonoDevelop does not provide a visual designer for asp pages: bad point. Finally I've opted for a mixed solution using the free Microsoft IDE called Visual Web Developer 2005
(no, not the 2008 one, because it supports .NET 3.5, which isn't officially supported by Mono: first stages, first experience, my little brain fiend suggested me to reduce troubles with an older IDE ).
After viewing a dozen of video tutorials I've installed Visual Web Developer 2005 and opened many sample projects downloaded from the ASP.NET site.

Two weeks later I've finished my first web site using this technique:
  1. Develop on Windows with Visual Web Developer 2005.
  2. Test it immediately with Mono (installing the Mono framework on the same Windows machine).
  3. Deploy the whole thing on a Debian test server where I can see it in action with a real Apache web server environment.
Now I can confirm that this is a good solution that let you rapidly write good quality websites: ASP.NET is a well done framework and you can finish with a structured project that works in an open source environment.