Webforms is now grossly out of favour with the intelligencia of .NET that were formerly the artist known as ALT.NET. These cool kids have moved onto ASP.NET MVC which follows a more traditional and honest web development model. It is now a commonly agreed perception that Webforms is a leaky abstraction directed totally at VB6 developers who could not leave the paradigm of statefull VB6 forms behind them.
Let me illustrate this with a vignette from my employment history…….
I worked as a consultant for a leading educational software provider in London (I am so tempted to mention them by name) were they had an army of old VB6 developers gleefully and eloquently creating heinous crimes in the field of web development that are analogous to Hitler's holocaust. Their ignorant approach was to use datasets bound to datagrids throughout the application, not only was the average page size gargantuan with ViewState multiplying exponentially with every postback but they stuffed everything in the Session which was stored in SQL Server. It was truly unbelievable that something so ugly was being used by the leading educational organisations of the UK. This is a fairly common web forms shop were square pegs are hammered into round holes who develop time bomb websites that are primed to explode in incendiary expansions of cash. The very fact that they had to hire consultants like myself to unscramble the mess is testimony that this just did not work. They got the website up and working quickly and then spent a lot of time and money rewriting it to perform like a high traffic website should.
The type of developer webforms is aimed at is the mission statement of the vast majority of Microsoft products, it is of course the drag and drop world of development. You simply choose what you want from the designer and press F5, hey presto, you have yourself a piece of demoware software that is held together with double side sticky tape and string and has a shelf life of two days. Microsoft loves this space, even Scott Hanselman has joined in with this more measured 30 minute application. This is the developer who Microsoft are aiming this at. This is the market that EF is marketed at. They love this shit. They like impractical apps in 30 milliseconds for shows like MIX.
Another conspiracy theory I have is that Microsoft has got cold feet over IronRuby as it might lead to a further brain drain of the developers formerly known as ALT.NET. More and more of these guys have had enough after tasting the crack cocaine of Ruby on Rails that gives the addict, the feeling of how efficient a web framework can be. The IronRuby story is getting picked up by some but not many. I do not expect to hear Microsoft making any big noises about IronRuby on rails anytime soon. The majority of the posts I have seen, show how to use IronRuby used with WPF!! You could not make it up. I found this example which passes for great ironic humour were the author sets out to show how IronRuby can be used with sharepoint. Ironic IronRuby on rails is a more fitting title for this total farce that just goes to show how Microsoft or indeed its developers do not get Ruby on Rails and are instead shoe horning IronRuby into impractical and ridiculous places.
I think it is worth noting that Microsoft is getting wise to HTML 5 and are now fully embracing it in IE9 with some demoware here. Do not expect Microsoft to do anything less than drop Silverlight like a stone if HTML 5 is popular on IE9.
We no longer need these ugly plugins that do not play by natural browser rules, alienating themselves like inner city ghettos in no go areas of the web page. We as developers need skills that are transferable. There is a world outside of Visual Studio that can only progress you as a developer. Or are you a Bob, blinkered, ignorant and tied, like a dependant crack addict to the rocks of Visual Studio. Don't be a follower, don't be a sheep and learn to think for yourself. The pragmatic programmer book stated that you should learn a new language a year, how about learning a language outside of Visual Studio? If this scares you then you need to seriously do some soul searching or maybe go and work with Bob.
Next I am going to rant about the truly, ugly mess that is XAML. XAML is an xml grammar that cannot even be defined in an XSD schema because it is so ugly. XAML is like XHTML only it can crash an IDE.