I've begun to play with ASP.NET and Visual Basic.NET
a bit. Aside from their currently requiring Windows and
IIS, I'm pretty impressed so far. Not that I've done much
of anything yet, but the tools seem to make some things
easy. I have a Dummies book and one from MS Press.
I intend to keep playing with these as well as Ruby.
I guess it depends on whether one considers Windows
Server '03 a safe and worthy platform for web services
and/or how successfully Novell ports the .NET stuff to
Linux in subsidiary Ximian's MONO effort (March '05).
If that goes well, .NET will no longer be Windows-only.
MONO 1.0 already runs on Linux and OS X, bringing
the C# language. 2.0 is supposed to include VB.NET
and some binary compatibility with Windows (limits?).
No idea how or whether Novell will get around ASP's
requirement of IIS (in addition to the .NET framework).
If ASP.NET doesn't fly on Linux, it may still be possible
to use VB.NET with Apache 2 via the .NET framework.
Of course I still think Ruby or PHP + Apache + MySQL
or PostgreSQL is probably "tighter" as in fewer obvious
risks and lower demands of the server - not to mention
free and open-source. The only downside to the open-
source approach, in my rather uneducated opinion, is
that it may take more time to do anything interesting
with databases. Then again, Ruby on Rails may make
Ruby-based web projects almost as easy as VB.NET.
Some factors against using ASP.NET at Biomed are
that we already have the servers (Solaris) and skills
(Dan) to run open-source apps. ASP.NET would take
new skills, discipline to secure and support a Windows
2003 Server, and cash for hardware and OS license.
I dunno if the benefits of ASP.NET could ever justify
those costs, so for now I consider ASP.NET just a toy.