.NET cheaply

9 02 2008

Well, if you’re like me, and you like C# (and let’s face it, Microsoft did well with their version of Java – everything’s easier in hindsight aint it?), then you might wonder how to develop .NET cheaply.

First off, Visual Studio 2008. Comes in two flavours – Standard and Professional. After trawling round, I found this article on the product page comparing versions. The thing is, the trial is Pro, and so there isn’t any way to get a feel for the Standard version.  The trial is 90 days, so I’m not complaining.

At work, I’m using Standard, and lemme tell you, as a developer, I’m not seeing anything I miss. Even the Server Explorer is there in complete contradiction to the link above… huh. Well, as the difference in price is like AUD 400 to AUD 1200, I know which version I’m recommending.

While we’re here, what about SQL Server Express 2005? Well, again, there’s a product comparison,  however, for a standard developer, you’ll agree that 4GB max database size is pretty hefty. I mean, as long as you’re not storing binary files in there, you should be right. And hell, it’s free. Even if you want full-text searches – just download the larger package with Advanced Services. Management Studio is nice, but I’m running a Core 2 Quad Core at work with 4GB of RAM on XP and it finally runs nicely.

One funny thing I had missed with building a small .NET site, was how I could integrate the DB into the filesystem. I’d come to .NET from a larger production background and was used to connecting to existing DBs over the network. When I realised how trivial it was to deploy a DB into the App_Data folder of a website, and use an XSD DataSet to manage my interface to tables/views/sprocs, I was hitting myself. Funny enough, I realised it whilst watching an ASP.NET AJAX video.  (Incidentally, if you’re building an AJAX intensive website, that is more an application than site, take a look at Flex).

Well, live and learn.

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