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what the voices in my head tell me to write

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Why choose a particular technology?

This has been on my mind for a while now. Nearly all the web development technologies out there are perfectly capable of producing any kind of site you want. PHP = Java = Perl = ASP = Cold Fusion = .Net = Python = Ruby = whatever, with enough work and time that is.

So why do companies or individuals choose one way of working over another. What makes someone say. "I am going to develop this site in PHP not anything else". This is especially true in large organisations where you can hire whoever you like to do the actual work.

Is there something in the "character" of each of these technologies that appeals differently to different people. Or what makes an individual choose one technology over another. There is definitely a "cultural" aspect to programming. The question is does the technology affect its users or do the users define the technology. Of course the answer is a bit of both.

A good example of the way in which this can happen is Perl. Initially Perl was the product of one man, Larry Wall. His background is in linguistics and he brings a lot of that to Perl. What other programming language makes it possible to construct jokes and even poetry. As Perl has developed Larry has been forced to listen to the community of its users. This has meant the technology has changed. However Larry is still in control and his personality is still reflected in the technology.

Compare this to something like Java which is designed by committee at Sun. The two technologies are almost identical in purpose and intent but are radically different to work with. The culture of their users tends to be different as well. Java is a more "corporate" language and Perl is still the language of choice for many old school "hackers".

Are people drawn to these technologies from the outset or do they become en cultured like ex-pats in a foreign land. Is your entire career and professional culture decided by what technology your college decides to use to teach CompSci 101 or do you choose the course because you want to be a corporate drone not a freelance hacker?

Of course many people can have a foot in both camps. A person might have a day job working on .Net methodology all day and come home and contribute to open-source projects written in Python. Many people enjoy this sort of break or challenge. In my experience not many people jump ship professionally and that is what ultimately counts as it is far more important than a hobby.

Permanent link and Comments posted by Rob Cornelius @ Saturday, April 03, 2004

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