If you read through my moster of a previous post you will notice that I am a big fan of technologies that are lumped into the phrase "ALT.NET". Stuff like MonoRail, nHibernate, MbUnit, Rhino.Mocks, etc.
While reading some of the posts about ALT.NET the thought that kept crossing my mind is how long will people stick with .NET when they start to understand some of the possible solutions out there. Many of the .NET solutions above are accomplishing goals in .NET that are very hard. ORM is hard. Mocking in a statically typed language is hard. But when you really start to look outside of the area of .NET you might find Ruby on Rails. Where all of this stuff is just plain easy.
In the link above the first bullet point of being ALT.NET is:
"You’re the type of developer who uses what works while keeping an eye out for a better way."
What if Ruby on Rails is the better way? How long before the people driving the ALT.NET movement figure out that the best way to do stuff is NOT.NET and perhaps RoR? I know that I feel myself getting closer and closer to that realization. What would make an ALT.NET developer stay in the .NET realm?
1) Your job. Ok, this is a pretty good one. You work for a company that uses .NET and they aren’t going to switch. This will keep a number of people who love their jobs, but most people thinking about ALT.NET won’t usually let a paycheck get in their way if they see greener pastures elsewhere. This might delay the move, the next contract I took is .NET because I can bill much more doing .NET work, but in the long run it won’t stop me from pursuing RoR in my off-time and at some point making the switch.
2) Your comfort. Using Ruby and RoR is weird. I will be the first to admit it hasn’t been easy adapting to how different it is. I don’t think I have ever been more comfortable in a language then I am in C# and .NET. Similiar to #1 though, the people looking at ALT.NET aren’t all about comfort. They are willing to try something different and get uncomfortable.
3) Microsoft. Microsoft puts an incredible amount of money and effort into .NET. One of the things I noticed at the Ruby Brigade here that was missing was the endless Microsoft swag that usually shows up at most .NET user groups. Microsoft has the MVP program, they send people to conferences for free, etc. But again, if someone is looking at ALT.NET technologies they are already somewhat detaching themselves from Microsoft. I can’t see this holding too many people back.
I haven’t made the switch yet. My next contract, which should last at least a year, is .NET. ChiroEase, my side-project, is .NET. But I am working on a little project using RoR. Testing the waters, we shall see where it goes.
Do you consider yourself in the ALT.NET camp? Are you looking at RoR? Why or Why not?