Webdev: the times, they are a changin'

Tod Hansmann plug.org at todandlorna.com
Mon Apr 16 20:40:11 MDT 2012

PLUG peeps,

Preface: I did the whole raw html files, maybe w/javascript back in the 
mid-90's.  I did CGI with C.  I did PHP since PHP3 came out.  I have 
attempted several times to look at JavaEE and the lives I've broken 
because of the rage it induced is tragic to behold.  So I'm not "new" to 
the field, I just haven't done any serious webdev outside of PHP or 
django in a while.

The problem: Web dev sucks.  PHP is still, well, PHP.  It was nice as a 
change of pace from CGI.  I like that it's simple, and works easily with 
Apache.  It just doesn't perform well, and it's PHP.  The problem I'm 
faced with is, what else is there, really?  How can I just do simple 
webdev again without the problem that is PHP?  (Seriously, when your 
interpreter performs differently based on what KIND of whitespace you 
have between your brackets, you are no longer my friend.)

Python:  Django and Pylons are both overcomplicated and constantly 
changing.  (Is it just a python thing in general to wildly change your 
codebase on a whim?)  I like Django, I've worked with it, but if I 
wanted to write a blog, right now, I could do it from scratch in a few 
hours with PHP if I knew nothing of PHP (or in my sister's case when she 
did so, any programming at all), or I could spend the next 4 days 
learning django enough to start actually writing the code for my blog in 
python, and then wonder how the heck it's getting executed under all 
those layers.

Ruby:  I realize this is a personal thing, but I hate Ruby.  Regardless, 
Rails is no saner than django, and its performance is still terrible, 
even if I didn't hate Ruby.  A friend of mine like Sinatra, but agrees 
that the Ruby side too suffers from changing way too much for our tastes 
between versions.

Perl:  Well, I've been looking at this.  It's still good, but it's still 
the old CGI model.  There's progress with PSGI, but it's all very 
experimental, or if not considered such, doesn't work with Apache at all 
(or is just a veneer over CGI/FastCGI).  mod_psgi is... less than 
mature.  So I guess if I'm going back to CGI, I'm fine, but that's not 
"the modern way", is it?  Maybe this is stable/mature for Perl?  I've 
never been part of Perl culture, so I don't know.

There's my overall feel, what's yours?  (Gundy's going to be in here for 
django, I'm sure.  I'm all for it, if it would just get out of the way 
with it's apps and its huge learning curve)  How would you make web dev 
fun and easy and stable again?  (As stable as web dev ever gets, I suppose)

-Tod Hansmann

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