Microsoft MVPs, all aboard!

It’s like we were all reinventing wheels and barrels in .NET land in the past 5 years, when just on the other side of the island, people were beginning to wonder what is the best material to pave a highway with? … It’s like the Ruby community lives 3x faster than the .NET community, and has been for the past 5 years.

Why is it a pattern that, … people try out Rails, and they just never come back?

I’m very happy with the tooling I have at hand at this point. I can’t really say, right now, that I’m missing anything from my .NET development environment. Quite the contrary, actually; not having to cope with the lockups of VS, the non-sense behavior of TFS, the testing-hostile tools and frameworks, has been a blessing.

ASP.NET MVC is a fine framework. I just don’t feel like it is as productive as it could be.

...the above list hastily compiled off the top of my head.

There are no .NET developers

Other than that, I'd rather not spend time on [learning .NET at home]. It's not that i don't like .NET, but i just don't find it a very interesting space to be in anymore. There's very little innovation going on and the new things that the community and Microsoft are working on most often seem like either new libraries or frameworks to keep doing the same things we've been doing for years, or building things that other development communities already have for a while now. It also doesn't help that a lot of the people who used to be in the ALT.NET community seem to be spending a lot of their spare time learning new languages and platforms instead of pushing for improvement in the .NET community like they used to do.”

What if .NET developers stopped identifying themselves as .NET developers? What if they just considered themselves to be developers? I think we’d see a lot less, “how do we get Microsoft X to catch up with Y?” and a lot more “Let’s just use Y because it already does what we want.”

Seriously, the amount of energy being poured into playing catch up is saddening. Imagine if all of that effort was poured into the tool that’s already better at this.

There are no .NET Developers. There are only developers who have been brainwashed into thinking they can only write code in .NET.


  1. Ruby (Rails) and other non-.NET frameworks are crossing the chasm into the mainstream.
  2. Rails is a better platform. Every former .NET developer who has first tried, then written, about Ruby on Rails has reported it’s both more enjoyable and more productive. Every, single, one. EDIT 2011-07-11: ok, maybe I exaggerated. Ken has something to say as a .NET/Ruby guy who still likes .NET as much as/more than Ruby
  3. I’m sensing (and feeling) Microsoft’s .NET platform is stagnating, especially recently. Aside from multiple positive reports [1, 2] on the NHibernate rewrite, I have nothing to look forward to in .NET. And while I’m here, let me be the first to say: providing a new platform for Windows development excites me in the same way that iPhone-platform development excites me—that is to say, not at all.
  4. You don’t have to self-identify as a .NET developer. Instead, self-identify as a developer whose skillset is in .NET. Learn another platform (which is surprisingly easy) instead of investing extra effort in .NET. I happen to like the WPF project I work on, and my next project will probably be .NET (given my skillset), but there’s no reason I have to assume it will be .NET.

EDIT 2011-07-14: New Takeaways

There have been many, many comments over what I’ve written. My average blog post gets 0 comments. The median for blog comments here is also 0. The 75% quartile for blog comments: also 0. The 90 percentile mark for blog comments—you guessed it—also 0! So it was something of a shock to see people are actually reading this post, and commenting or blogging responses.

And very few of them seem all that happy with my post.

Many of them assume that I am a Ruby zealot, or that this post was about “Ruby vs. .NET”, so I must have written something poorly above. I don’t know. My new takeaways (which supersede the old list) will hopefully give you a better idea of what I meant to say originally.

It’s important to note the context as well. My blog is mostly targeted at people like me, that is to say, .NET developers, and the people who forgot to unsubscribe when I stopped posting about SharePoint. The post should not categorically offend everybody, no matter what background, but from all the feedback I’m getting: it is.

On with the takeaways:

  1. .NET developers (i.e., YOU) should check out Rails. If you are a .NET developer, and you haven’t checked out other frameworks like Ruby on Rails, you should do so. Instead of learning about Silverlight, for example, or whatever v1 Microsoft product that comes out of BUILD, or waste your time studying for MS certifications (seriously?), check out Rails. Rails is a viable way do develop web applications and is worth the time investment. Somewhere down the line, you may even be able to get paid to do Rails work, even in a city like Houston, even outside of the startup scene. And, it is surprisingly easy to learn other platforms.
    PS--these are not strawmen alternative learning investments I’m setting up. There are real people, real .NET developers, who spend their time struggling through WCF books to take the exam, or go “all in” and study up on the newest MS framework, and never quite get caught up.
  2. Drop the “.NET developer” mindset. There is a kind of assumption among .NET developers that we are .NET developers, and will use whatever the .NET framework provides to solve our problems. If we need to develop a web application, for example, we’ll consider ASP.NET WebForms or MVC, or maybe one of the alternate .NET web frameworks. Or SharePoint. We don’t look outside the walls. So, look outside the walls. .NET isn’t as fresh and shiny as it used to appear, and the alternatives are getting quite good (some would say: better, believe it or not). Again, it is surprisingly easy to learn other platforms.