Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Learning .NET after ColdFusion

I certainly don't claim to be a great programmer but I try. Not having an initial formal education in Computer Science can be a handicap at times but still you are given the chance to see programming from a more practical level than most with CS degrees. For one thing you are more focused on the results than on the process. I started out as a ColdFusion programmer in the mid to late 90s when the web was young and folks were beginning to come up with easy ways to add functionality to web pages. ColdFusion was very popular with this and for a time one could make some good money as a CF programmer. I had always been a computer enthusiast and caught the web bug when my friend Pete Tarnowsky introduced me to HTML. CF was easy because it used the same tag like structure as HTML so the progression was natural.

Well along came ASP for which you didn't need to buy the application server. All you needed was what was Internet Information Server or IIS and you had pretty much the basis of what you needed to get a dynamic website up and running. If you were a VB programmer, you could create objects that could interface with ASP. The expense of buying the CF app server was gone. That provided some stiff competition to CF and eventually there were more sites built with ASP. Java followed and things got even more complicated. CF's engine was eventually written with Java and evolved into the scenario where you were actually running a Java application through CF. They were trying to sell it as doing Java the easy way with ColdFusion.

As every programmer knows, one of the requirements is upgrading ones skill set. Only a fool would put all his programming eggs in one language. Unfortunately this happens no fault of the programmer as you can get stuck in one environment. Some times it takes the ultimate plunge, going it on your own, to acquire the skillset to make yourself continually marketable. This is what I did, ending up unemployed for a few months. The great thing is that I was able to use this time to get into .NET. I did work a tiny bit on .NET projects but to be honest I was just editing code, not adding major functionality.

What I found was by being just a little resourceful you could teach yourself .NET without spending an extra dime. One needs to only download the latest application IDEs from Microsoft which would include developer or Express versions of the major applications used in .NET development. You will need Visual Web Developer and MS SQL Server 2008 Express. All of this is available as a download. In addition, a good friend of mine gave me a pdf of the book Build Your Own ASP.NET 2.0 Web Site Using C# and VB by Christian Darie and Zak Ruvalcaba. Obviously I won't offer the pdf file but would encourage you to buy the actual book. Click on the link on this site. While you're at it just a reminder that you're actually supporting this blog when you buy from our sponsors so be sure to check out some of the goods and services being offered.

I intend to be finished with the book in 2 weeks and since many of the concepts I already know, particularly the sections on databases, I hope to move quickly. At the time of this writing, I noticed that there is an updated edition. Seems the names are switched around so that its authored by Zak Ruvalcaba and Christian Dairie instead of the other way around. Whatever it is, get the book. Like I said on Twitter, I hope to be the baddest .NET programmer around.


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