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Monday, October 6, 2008

Visual Web Developer

The title to this blog is also the newest line on my resume. As of today, one of my job responsibilities is to develop webpages for my company (most of which are for engineer's eyes only, admittedly) using Microsoft's Visual Web Developer.

I've been doing all my rapid prototyping in Perl, which is good because I can get results very quickly to some very challenging problems. I don't have a lot of time in my day, so speed is key: I can't waste time playing around with some tool, I need to be able to make it work, and quickly. However, for all the speed and beauty of Perl, it just isn't something that I can hand off to other engineers because they don't know it. I'm the only one in the office that does. Plus, everything I write is command-line based, and apparently none of our engineers are comfortable working on a commandline (how can this be?) For good or ill, Microsoft's visual studio is the de facto development platform at my place of business, and Visual Basic is the language in use by my department. For web, everything is done in ASP.NET/C#.

Well, not everything. Some of our backroom engineering websites are done using a product called "CodeCharge Studio", which is a visual rapid development tool for webpages. It's not bad per se, but it's proving to be a tool that's more trouble then it's worth. We have two web platforms: The production website which is being programmed using ASP.NET/C#, and this backroom stuff that is being developed using this CodeCharge Studio. Some of the engineers, at least the ones working in this environment, are getting kind of tired of this situation. It doesn't help that some of our "web developers" are not web developers at all: I had to explain to one the difference between GET and POST methods in HTML to one.

So, I'm embarking on a task to start convertings tools en masse to C# for use on our production website. I'm not unfamiliar with C#, but I've never done too much of it before. Now, I'm taking the crash course in it, and am hopeful to be getting some utilities converted and webified soon. I'm just happy to be doing some more code work now then I have been, and learning a new language is always fun.

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