Posts tagged ‘development’

Do I have a Microsoft mentaility?

So what do I mean by “Microsoft Mentality”? This website is a good example.

There are lots of sites out there to make blogging easy, like Blogger. There are services out there to give you an easy to maintain, interactive website, like mySpace. And there are plenty of software tools – many of them free – to customize and make your own, like Movable Type or BlogCFC.

Yet here I am on a site with stuff I built myself. Some of it is still buggy or lacking in the full feature set of these other things. If I wanted to present a professional face, and utilize the technology to the fullest, shouldn’t I just use some of these much better technologies?

Probably. While coding in recent years has become actual “work”, I do still enjoy building applications. Having my own application gives me a place to try things and learn new tricks. But if I was really serious about being a “web publisher”, I’d probably get some of these tools and use them.

I’ve thought about this as I was working with a client who is wanting to leverage online resources to allow their audience to post content, and use their website as an “aggregator” to show off the content posted through other services, like YouTube or Flickr. During development discussions, I’ve had to ward off thoughts like “Why don’t I just build it myself?” Of course I do answer that question in my head:

  1. It’d take more time
  2. There’s probably lots of free or cheap apps out there already
  3. You’ve never built one of those, you dope!

Which brings me around to the “Microsoft Mentality”. Microsoft sometimes has a tendency to “reinvent the wheel” on technology. An example is VBScript. At the time Microsoft introduced this scripting language, Javascript (unfortunately saddled with the “java” part, though it is technically ECMA script) had been put forth by the development community as the de-facto client scripting language. Yet Microsoft pushed VBScript, which has all but disappeared from client scripting. They even did their own version of ECMAScript called JScript, rather than use the ECMA system. This kind of thing continues, with everything from DOM parsing to XML interchange standards, and so on. Despite the community creating a standard to follow, Microsoft seems content to do it in house, causing problems with compatibility.

Sony is another company that is prone to this thinking. Not content to feel the direction of the industry on what technology standards to adopt, they push proprietary technology and try to get other companies on board. On occasion this has worked (for Microsoft as well), but the list of high profile format disasters (Betamax, Mini-Disc, Memory Stick, and now Blu-Ray it appears) shows that bucking useful and established technology is to their own peril.

I’ve come to the conclusion that should I ever want a “commercial” web venture, I will survey the field for tools and apps, rather than trying to whip them up myself. Why work when someone else has already, right?