application and web app technologies

cartercc at cartercc at
Mon Jan 2 19:24:54 CET 2006

January, 2006.

I do not intend to start any kind of flame war, but only to seek advice
about different technologies concerning which I am mostly ignorant.

I am the database manager for a unit of a major state university. A
part of my job includes building database access and web enabled
applications for student services, faculty, and staff. These include
both information gathering applications and dynamic updates from our
big database to other applications. About 90 percent of our current
programming is in Perl. Of the rest, some is in ColdFusion, some is in
VB6, and we may have snippets in other languages. I might add that our
WWW pages are all in ColdFusion, which we like very much and have no
interest in changing.

I have been tasked by me IT department with investigating different
technologies for what will be a total rewrite and major update of our
applications. The problem with Perl is that it seems dowdy and old
fashioned, and that we never really investigate alternatives. We just
fell into Perl because that's what people knew. Also, we have had some
staff changes, and updating Perl code, some of which is years old,  has
proved to be a real nightmare. Perl works great! ... but trying to read
and modify someone else's code, or even your own, is pretty darn tough.

A real important part of this is database connectivity. We use a number
of different databases, Access, SQL Server, Datatel (the big University
DB), PostgreSQL (my favorite), MySQL, and a couple of others.

Here is where we currently are:

 * Java/JSP -- We have already made the decision to go with Java, but
we haven't started with it, and have not committed to Java.
 * Python -- Some of us have had limited experience with Python.
 * Ruby -- We have a Ruby advocate here, but no one knows anything
about it.
 * .NET/ASP -- We have a MS shop, I think that we have two UNIX servers
out of several dozen, and we are pretty firmly committed to Windows,
but no one is real excited about .NET, and the chances that we will
choose .NET seem real remote. Are there any advantages to using .NET?
 * OO Perl/Perl6 -- Perl has worked real well for us, but we have
doubts that it is the best technology, and we want to make a serious
attempt to look at other things.
 * C/C++ -- I mention this only because this is what IT uses. We have
no interest in C/C++, unless it really is the best.

We want something that we can use across the board, from web apps to
sys admin (which is why ColdFusion is not a candidate). I'm not
interested in advocacy, but if anyone has experience in and compare
these technologies, we would be grateful for your experiences.

My apologies for cross posting, I don't do it often, but I'd like to
reach as wide an audience as possible.


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