Why ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, Ruby and Cold Fusion Suck .. for web designers.

November 7, 2007
Posted in Editorial

The article’s title (I admit,) will get some people little miffed at me. But, what can I say, the truth hurts!

Seriously, this statement is valid and is worth talking about because there are a lot of web designers out there who are considering the leap into building dynamic (database driven) web applications. And with so many choices (ASP, ASP.NET, Ruby etc …) it can be very frustrating when trying to make that choice.

Of course, I believe (and know) that PHP is the choice language/technology for web designers. But why are the other technologies not a good choice for web designers?


ASP was great in 1996-98 … but since ASP.NET took over in about 2000, Mircrosoft has left classic ASP behind. Sadly, ASP users saw their favorite dynamic web page technology quickly fall behind the competition in terms of capability since Microsoft jumped ship.

ASP.NET is the new version of (classic) ASP but ASP.NET has little resemblance to classic ASP. In fact, ASP.NET looks a heck of a lot more like JSP/Java!

As such many an ASP user felt lost because thought ASP.NET is powerful, it can be very daunting to learn if you are not a hard core programming nerd.

… And that is why still to this day, there are many ASP coders out there – ASP.NET is just too complex for the average web designer.


The Java solutions/technologies for building dynamic websites are just way too complex for any web designer to jump into. Only a crazy fool like me would jump into this overly complex, verbose Titanic of a language. Java has its’ place, but it’s not in the hands of web designers.


Ruby is a nice nimble language like PHP. But it works with some advanced object oriented concepts that might trip up a lot of web designer types who just want to learn how to process a form and maybe edit a blog.

Besides that, Ruby web hosting is much more rare than PHP hosting. Seriously, what hosting company doesn’t offer PHP hosting as part as their basic package?!

Answer: none.

Cold Fusion

Initially designed with web designers in mind, Cold Fusion code looks like HTML tags. It is good for smaller projects and is easy to learn, but it has two major things going against it:

  1. It is not Free.
  2. It is not widely used: no jobs, no hosting, small diminishing community.

Bottom line: Cold Fusion is a dying technology – a place you don’t want to be.


So why is PHP such a great choice? Well first of all, the negatives I mentioned about the other competing technologies … PHP does not have. On top of that, I can say this about PHP:

  • PHP is easy to learn.
  • PHP is powerful and cutting edge.
  • PHP has a huge and growing community that you can leverage.
  • There is no Killerruby.com out there with hours free (easy to understand) training videos!



Stefan Mischook


20 Responses

  1. Pingback: Why ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, Ruby and Cold Fusion Suck .. for web designers. at KILLERSITES.COM

  2. John McCollum Author November 7, 2007 at 5:11 am

    Stefan, I disagree that asp.net is more complex than PHP. Try parsing some XML in PHP4 and you’ll see what I mean!

    (Ok, PHP5 has simpleXML, but it’s pretty buggy.)

    I would argue that the vast class libraries in asp.net make it easier to learn to make dynamic websites, not more difficult. That’s where I started, and it even made learning PHP easier!

  3. Dan Author November 7, 2007 at 10:04 am

    I myself prefer PHP over other server-side languages, it will always be my first love. But I do disagree with your statement over ASP .NET

    Unfortunately, the business/corporate world really seems to like ASP and it’s like… don’t really know why, but they do. Not to mention that Microsoft developers make a lot more (in general) than non-MS developers.

    I, myself, believe that Microsoft is the devil, but right now am using it to develop a CMS for two reasons: 1) I can’t find an easy/good/free ASP .NET CMS and 2) Have no choice as the company I work for is on a MS server, and host will not install PHP on it.

    Having known PHP (self-taught, and do not consider myself an expert on any level), I am not finding the learning curve so difficult, and am finding it somewhat easy to learn ASP .NET

    Like I said, I’d choose PHP over ASP .NET any day, hands down, but I don’t necessarily think that ASP .NET is a looser.

  4. Stefan Mischook Author November 7, 2007 at 10:55 am


    I don’t think ASP.NET is a looser overall – it does have its’ place and it has some really cool stuff about it.

    That said, I still think that for web designers wanting to learn server-side programming, you can’t beat PHP.

    You actually point out one very important argument against ASP.NET:

    “I can’t find an easy/good/free ASP .NET CMS ”

    Whereas in the PHP world, we have many to choose from:

    – Drupal
    – Mambo
    – Joomla

    etc …


  5. Pablo Varando Author November 7, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    My 2 cents on the matter…

    I don’t see how ColdFusion sucks for designers; when the coding is more inline with what they are used to. CF tags (i.e. and and ) are more like HTML tags which is what designers are used to.

    Though we could get into the whole which language is easier to learn, or faster to write or whatnot; i believe that the idea is what is easier to use for designers. ColdFusion is much easier then all other languages simply because it’s very powerful and very very easy to learn.

    If PHP is your cup of tea and therefore what you feel more confident using; then great; but don’t necessarily say that a language it’s worse then another because of your personal preference.

    Remember that CF is a RAP (Rapid Application Development) language; which means that what you might take 2 weeks in PHP or .NET (and yes; I do know and use all of the langauges mentioned here) for web development (specially what a designer might want to do) ColdFusion will win hands down.. taking probably a day at most to do the equivalent and in a lot less code.

    So don’t knock it until you have really really given it a shot.. ColdFusion might amaze you and you might end up switching! 🙂

    Pablo Varando
    http://www.easycfm.com – Learn ColdFusion EASILY!

  6. Pablo Varando Author November 7, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    In addition to your comment as far as:

    It is not Free.
    [Response] – This is a commong myth. The developer edition is in fact free. You can load it on your machine and code just like you do PHP and any other language. When you get into production; in most cases it’s up to your host but if your host can’t afford a $6,000 license to provide you with things like direct exchange integration, easier development into Flex, easier and faster coding standards which will get you to the end result faster and therefore save you money in the development and maintenance cycle; so what is your real cost? People focus too much on the initial price sticker and never really get the fact that the cost is in developement and more importantly in the maintenance of an application.

    It is not widely used: no jobs, no hosting, small diminishing community.
    Bottom line: Cold Fusion is a dying technology – a place you don’t want to be.

    [ Response ] – Yet another myth, by people that are not aware of what the community really is and how it works. ColdFusion is a smaller community sure (I mean hard to compete with Microsfot in general) but it’s a friendlier community that is always willing to help and teach. (I know; I am a leader in the community) The language is also not dying; i mean ColdFusion 8 can intergation into .NET (even on Linux) and Java directly. Not many other langauge can clain that. It’s got a bright fuure having been around longer then PHP and .NET (and yes even ASP) and it’s so easy and powerful that again; it comes down to your company’s perspective on making money. For over 8 years I’ve heard that CF is dying or dead… that it’s not going anywhere and yet here it is; mor powerful then ever and owned by the same company that owns Flash and Flex (which are two of the most widely used UI systems in the world) and CF is built in directly (tighly) with them… yet another reason its not going anywhere.

    People needs to stop worrying about things like this or that is dying and they need to realise that in the end its on your to do your homework when selecting a development platform. Don’t pick it because of articles like these; because in the end all this author is saying is what he thinks and not necessarily what he knows.

    Again, just putting my 2 cents into the mix because I don’t want someone thinking something is a fact; when it has not real facts and figures behind it. 🙂 Appologies to the author for the harshness; but just giving you the facts.

  7. Web Designer Author November 8, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    I’m a designer who moved into web development with coldfusion. Pablo is 100% right in everything he’s said. Coldfusion is powerful, qucik adn growing. It’s backed by Adobe, who are developing it to one of the most powerful products out there. I love it!

  8. Stefan Mischook Author November 8, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Coldfusion does have it’s advantages, but I still feel that overall PHP is the superior option.

    Just one advantage: just think of all the free PHP projects (blogs, CMS etc) that you have access to.


  9. Henrik Sarvell Author November 9, 2007 at 12:43 am

    From what little I’ve seen of CF it simply rocks and would definitely be the best choice for someone starting out. However, it’s not open source (last I checked anyway), anyone considering it would have to be at the mercy of Adobe.


  10. Jeff Author November 11, 2007 at 6:50 am

    Stefan I couldn’t agree more. I have got a friend who is a hard core web developer who will only entertain ASP.NET, in fact he’s completely scathing about PHP!

    So with his help I tried to break into the .NET arena and ‘helped’ develop a few Dot Net Nuke sites (which are of course .NET based). Well all I can say is that with all the hours I tried to learn, I hardly scratched the surface as far as understanding goes, whereas while I’m no expert in PHP at least it makes some kind of sense.

    The strange thing is that my friend doesn’t even know PHP yet he makes his derogatory judgement about it…I think he forgets what it’s like to be a beginner!

    I’m certainly sticking with good old php.



  11. Kevin Author November 19, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Interesting article, Stefan. I would agree with you with th several reason why a web designer would go for PHP. ASP and ASP.NET is free, and to learn especially from Microsoft’s Web Designer program where it’s free and quite easy (in my uncles terms that is since he is a computer programmer).

    I’m enjoying your videos, and hopefully people won’t just pick one language. Latin is a dying language, yet if you learn it, it’s quite interesting and has many advantages of knowing it. I’m so far in your “PHP Includes” category, and so far so good. I don’t really need to code myself as of now, since I understand everything you’ve shown on them. I’m awaiting your progress on MySQL, but so far so good.

  12. Audioforge Author January 18, 2008 at 3:12 am


    I am taking your advice and focusing on PHP.

    I looked at some JAVA code recently, and it’s clear to me that all I’ll do is poke someone’s eye out with it.

    Much too dangerous for a meager designer geek like me.

    Thanks for the tip!

  13. Stefan Mischook Author January 18, 2008 at 9:05 am


    You said:

    “… it’s clear to me that all I’ll do is poke someone’s eye out with it.”

    Funny stuff.


  14. Stefan Mischook Author January 18, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I should mention that I recently released the first of my new series of videos on the WordPress blog engine. I think learning WordPress is an important thing for web designers to do and so I wanted to make it a touch easier:


    Why would I mention this on killerphp.com? Simple really, WordPress is one of the reasons to learn PHP (IMHO) since WordPress is created with PHP.


  15. Jared Rypka-Hauer Author January 21, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    First, I’m not looking for a fight… I’m hoping that by posting the truth here, the original author will show a slightly more realistic approach in the future.

    Re: PHP vs ColdFusion points 1 & 2:

    The developer version (for development, period… no timeout, few restrictions) IS free, and the production options range from $9/month hosting from a shared host to a production license that actually costs LESS than the equivalent license from Zend.

    Since the size of the community programs at Adobe have tripled since they took over, it’s fair to say that the community is growing. ColdFusion has been flourishing over the last 3-5 years. I think you should tell all the people I know (numbering in the hundreds) who make their livings EXCLUSIVELY using ColdFusion and Java on the server side that the community is dying and they’re in a losing proposition… especially since a good many of them make 6 figures.

    ColdFusion is a powerful server-side programming platform that makes integrating with almost anything out there very easy (since Java 1.6 we can even run PHP and Ruby code within the ColdFusion server). It has a large and flourishing community, hundreds of open-source projects, and an ever-growing number of available job opportunities.

  16. Raymond Camden Author January 21, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Even though I’m definitely a ColdFusion guy, the “best” language is the one that works best for you. I’ve tried multiple languages, and I’m most productive in CF. If you are more productive in PHP, then use it. That being said, I’m very happy to see other comments correct you on the cost/community issues.

    You also mentioned free apps. There are -many- free ColdFusion apps out there. Just check out http://www.riaforge.org for an example. I know for a fact you can find free CF blogs, forums, wikis, etc. (And yes, I’m biased as I’ve released many myself, but the point is still true.)

  17. Stefan Mischook Author January 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm


    Well perhaps things have turned around for ColdFusion … to be honest, I haven’t looked at it in years.

    Last time I looked into CF, it was just rebuilt using Java. Actually, ColdFusion became a JSP taglib collection on steroids.

    … I remember drolling over the chart creation capabilities.

    That said, I still believe that for most, PHP is the better solution.

    Consider this one business example:

    It is not uncommon for people who already have websites up, to want to add new dynamic features- shopping carts, blogs etc .. From my experience, they are not likely to want to move everything to a ColdFusion enabled server.

    .. I am assuming that they will probably not already be on CF server. And it is probably safe to say, they will very likely be on a PHP enabled server.


  18. Jared Rypka-Hauer Author January 21, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    ColdFusion 6 sucked, pure and simple (that was the first Java version). If that’s the last time you looked, you’ve seen ColdFusion at its worst. 😉 6.1 made life bearable, 7 was cookin (and one of the hottest-selling versions ever), and 8 sort of makes 7 look like a service pack. CF 8 was Adobe’s first release and they really pulled out all the stops.

    That said, I really don’t think that PHP and ColdFusion compare well… especially from the perspective of the small shop with small-budget clients. ColdFusion excels in the custom software space, where its RAD strengths really shine. In the low-budget shared-server market where you want to use Plesk to turn on the shopping cart and forums, yeah, PHP has a head start.

    I think they serve different markets and therefore don’t do well being compared to eachother… especially since both are used to build thousands of very capable websites every year.

  19. jason Author February 7, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Lol, I love your logic:

    “Uhhh, I don’t really understand these other languages, and am too ignorant/stupid to learn them in any sort of depth, therefore they must suck!”

    Real bright guy you are…

  20. Stefan Mischook Author February 7, 2008 at 8:31 pm


    You characterize me like so:

    “I don’t really understand these other languages, and am too ignorant/stupid to learn them in any sort of depth …”

    To be clear, I have actually used:


    .. among many other web specific languages and frameworks.

    I’ve only dabbled with Ruby, ColdFusion, Web Objects and others. Nonetheless, given my experience with other languages/frameworks, I am able to assess these technologies reasonably well.

    I’ve found that each language can shine in the right situation. That said, it makes sense to me that (overall) web designers learn PHP … for all the reasons I mentioned above.

    Thanks for commenting.


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