It’s time to overhaul the web site. I’m hawking ebooks now, and what I have, aside from being woefully out of date, is tired, stale, and doesn’t really lead anyone to Amazon, BN, or Smashwords. I’ve had a lot of suggestions. The IT director at Medishack (my discreet nickname for work) wants me to do everything open source in Notepad++. And if I were going that route, I most definitely would be using Notepad++. It’s just a great little text editor for programming without a development tool like Eclipse or Visual Studio.
I also looked at WordPress. Science fiction writer Michael R. Hicks uses it for his. (Note: His site strongly resembles ebook guru John Locke’s, but Mike seems to be having more fun with it.) I used it for the original Road Rules site when I posted the novel in blog format, but that was an unmitigated disaster. I’ll save that for my alter ego to hawk his own SF wares at some point. Li’l Sis does a good job using WordPress to run her site (Mind you, she built her WordPress template, which is a major skill in and of itself), and this blog has run swimmingly on it for four years. (But I probably should get a new theme soon. Hmm…)
So instead, I am going to build it on what I’m trained best for: ASP.Net. That’s right, I’m getting all Microsoft on your ass. And yes, it will run on a Mac, and an iPad, and a Droid. It’s a server-based technology.
There are two advantages to this. Microsoft makes available free versions of Visual Studio that are pretty robust for my purposes. And free is always preferable. (Note: Academia has afforded me full-blown versions of Visual Studio.) Second, Windows-based hosting is abundant and cheap. In fact, I already have some Windows space available to me.
ASP.Net allows one to put together some powerful and robust sites without hamstringing you to presdesigned themes (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) A lot of site you frequent are written in ASP.Net, and many are indistinguishable from those written in PHP (like this blog) or Java.
Well, that’s not true. ASP.Net tends to run as fast as PHP-based sites but tend to be faster than Java-based sites. Why? Java developers have an annoying fondness for applets, which in turn have this annoying tendency to “leak” into memory, that is build up a lot of unused junk that isn’t erased after a program has used it. Applet-based web sites and programs tend to dump a lot of the work onto your desktop. Now most modern smartphones and tablets are pretty good at combating memory leaks, but unless there’s an app for that, dumping some of the heavy lifting onto the phone or tablet is still going to slow your performance down. (In Java’s defense, it’s ability to run on just about anything is a reason there is usually an app for that.)
ASP.Net, like PHP, is a more server-intensive technology. The server crunches the code and spits it out as HTML. Your browser doesn’t know it’s not a web page, and your eyes don’t know it’s not a full-blown piece of software.
Of course, there are arguments for PHP and for Java and even for HTML5, even if it’s not quite a standard yet. I’ve dabbled in PHP, and a lot of content management platforms, like WordPress or Drupal, are now available. And who knows? Three or four years from now, I could be extolling the virtues of Java. But there’s another reason I want to do this in ASP.Net.
Not everybody is doing it.