Okay, this entry's going to be rough on modem users that aren't using links. Which reminds me -- I was thinking today how neat it'd be to pick up a cheap Powerbook 170 on ebay and put NetBSD for Motorola 68k processors on it with links and friends. Talkin' bout geeky.

Anyhow, for the digression and to modem users sans links, and even those with, since images are central to today's story, sorry.

There's a site that's specifically about ASP.NET called DotNetJunkies. It's run by two guys that used to work at Microsoft, and now work for themselves writing decent (but not great) books (I have this decent but not great one -- good example code, bad on concept and organization) and offering training, etc. I saw them for the first time on "MSDN TV" or some such, talking up ASP.NET. Surprising, eh? :^)

I think the DotNetJunkies site is a good measuring stick for what typical .NET programmers are going to produce. These guys are Microsoft sell-outs (and I don't mean that in a bad way, believe it or not), and they're quite likely to jump on most any MS bandwagon when it comes to the web. Here's an example of what I think's coming (and what I warned was coming), told by three decent sized images.

Image one: DotNetJunkies viewed in IE, highlighting the dynamic menu on the left which expands when you mouse over certain links.

nice looking dynamic menu in IE expanded to three levels

Neat, huh? Now here's Image Two showing one frame of the menu "fading out" when your mouse wanders away from the link. Very professional, though my presentation of these images leaves a little to be desired.

wow, look, the menu even fades out when the mouse is moved off of the link.

Now here's Image 3, dotnetjunkies viewed through Mozilla on Windows.

In Mozilla we think, 'Dynamic menu?  What dynamic menu?

There's no dynamic menu. Heck, even the row of options under their logo looks crappy (the "Home, Tutorials, How To's" line of links).

This is crap. Mozilla can most certainly handle dynamic menus and nicely formatted links, but DotNetJunkies just chooses not to bother. I don't know if this is a case of using Microsoft ASP.NET controls where Mozilla is seen as a "downlevel browser" (even though by the definition found at that link it's not) or possibly a case of testing in IE mainly (if not only) and figuring the look in Moz is good enough. Heck, the guys at DotNetJunkies didn't even remove the little arrows suggesting that there should be a dynamic menu, even here in Mozilla, which is what got me started wondering if this was a case of Mozilla being slighted in the first place. And yes, I'm pretty sure I recall reading it's all written in ASP.NET.

If this is the way .NET is going to change the Internet, it's bad news. Abstracting "web" programmers from html is not a good idea. And if you've worked with VS.NET you'll know the defaults (at the very least) start to hide you from other browsers altogether. Hit "F5" in VS.NET just like you're in the VB 6.0 IDE and your ASP.NET Web Form app "compiles and runs", popping open with IE as a wrapper. The IDE helps make your workflow exclude other browsers. It's just bad news. Text editor, alt-tab to browser, Ctrl-R is the only way to spot check.

Now don't get me wrong. If you're trying to reach IE-using Windows clients, these guys do great work. It's truly a sharp site from that perspective. It just rubs me wrong. Don't be lazy; reach everyone.

I'm trying to help a llittle, fwiw, with my upcoming "series" of articles at devArticles.com (warning: the site is crazy slow loading right now, and I don't think it's b/c I've been slashdotted). In my first article I'm trying to meet this bias head-on by showing (albeit very slowly in this first article) how to build a replacement DataGrid for ASP.NET. Don't let Microsoft do what you already know how to do.

Enough ranting for now. You probably get the picture. The web's moving even more in the direction of IE (if that's possible), and now it's moving because of biases inherent in Microsoft's implementation of .NET.