Who was the braniac that figured out that this technology thing is cyclical?

by Jason SalasMonday, October 01, 2001

Web site design has gone from being a side-project assigned to “those MIS people” to a multi-discipline sub-genre of the information technology industry. Heck, those of us who have based careers off of online publishing and document management can readily attest to that. But how far have we really come?


Has anyone noticed that the so-called movement for developers working with the .NET Framework is based largely around the fact that many sites managers are releasing the "open source documentation" for their sites? Egad! Shades of the UNIX community come to mind…which feels oddly uncomfortable, in today’s pro-Microsoft setting. Some devs reveal the raw source code they used to build all the pages on their sites for free...others ask for a modest "sponsorship fee" in exchange for the methods used to produce their works.

Further, has anyone noticed that the majority of these site's layouts all resemble each other (including this one), a little more than slightly? They all appear to share the same general layout, being by-products of Microsoft’s new IBuySpy portal site concept written in C#/VB.NET projects for Microsoft’s .NET framework:
http://www.ibuyspy.com/store 
http://www.ssdotnet.org 
http://www.angrycoder.com
http://www.aspsmith.com 

…the layout on which use the same columnar layout which strikes an eerie resemblance to that which has been in use by the open source PHPNuke.org project…
http://www.phpnuke.org/
http://slashdot.org 
http://pikaguam.com/index.php
http://www.digitribenow.com 


...which in itself borrows from the layout that Amazon.com has been using for years:
http://www.amazon.com 

…which came into popularity as an evolution of Yahoo!’s initial HTML 1.0 layout (gray background, blue hyperlinks, 2 or 3 graphics), prior to the company’s revolutionary portal design.

Hey, I'm not knocking MS or the devs that built these sites...they're great, and fantastic pieces of work, both aesthetically and programmatically…and all fantastic examples of just how far Web tech has come in a matter of mere years. I’ve gone through them extensively and they are great examples of what the technologies just on the horizon can do. It’s the bigger picture that makes me shift in my seat.

I find it interesting to note how MS had re-tooled its strategy by is plotting to beat out the competition by playing their game a little bit. In a sense, this is kicking the DOJ’s ruling right back in its face…saying, “OK…we’ll stop bundling our browser into Windows, but we’ll get directly involved in and totally exploit the open source genre.” This is stark contrast to how in the past MS would just completely overwhelm the companies---or acquire them outright.

Heck, the company’s monolithic .NET Framework is based largely on the precept of data universality and applications extensibility...which Sun Microsystems has popularized for years with Java. The .NET common language runtime (CLR) and Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) are schema for ensuring apps built using .NET technologies can port to and work on any platform. This again was the intent of Java, and further, with Jini. This draws light to the boom of the whole Linux O/S craze in '99, and how it really shook things up for how companies compete. Heck, Apple has included a command-line prompt in OS X that’s got all the Linux enthusiasts drooling.

In a roundabout way, the more people advocate the free-flow of information, the more material MS has to work with in developing business strategies. And at least for the moment, it’s all legit. Call it progression, call it crass capitalism...but it's working, with more than a million devs worldwide (including yours truly) using the platform to build dynamic Web applications.

Imagine that…Microsoft encouraging fair competition. :)

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