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Dot Net Leader
Interview by S. Ibaraki, I.S.P.
This week, Stephen had the opportunity to speak with YONG TAO CHEN.
Amongst his many accomplishments, YT was the first in Canada to achieve the
SQL MCDBA designation, CNA, MCSE+I, MCSD, CSP and NSP titles. YT earned his
Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and his Masters of Business
Administration from the University of Xiamen. His global top-ranking
knowledge was utilized by two of the largest financial web sites where he was
responsible for key architectural solutions involving advanced indexing,
fault tolerant replication, storage procedures with cluster SQL Server 7.0
Databases, and query design. YT recently had an advanced article on SQL
Server published in the elite British industry-leading technical journal
Xephon. YT is currently leading a dot net web services design and
implementation project, continuing his work on the leading edge of business
Q. Please detail your responsibilities and background?
A. My IT experience began with hardware sales and solution deliveries in
China before I started my applications development career. I have
successfully developed several types of Microsoft applications including an
e-commerce B-to-B web site as well as web-based or Windows-based
applications. My experience also includes project design, planning and
management. I am currently developing a Dot Net application using Microsoft’s
latest technology. The application also involves Windows CE programming, a
Crystal Enterprise web-based reporting system, and Digital Dashboard
Q. You have been working on a Dot Net project since the day Dot Frame Work
Beta 1 was released. Could you describe your application and tell readers
what made you choose Dot Net as your infrastructure even as a Beta version?
A. The application is a web–based application for the ergonomic industry. The
project deploys client/server architecture and centralizes databases. Data is
synchronized between the client’s CE forms and web portal using XML format
and SOAP protocol. Due to the scope and nature of the project, we had done a
lot of research work and couldn’t find a cost-effective solution. This is why
we decided to adopt Dot Net technology immediately after it beta release. The
Dot Net solution makes it possible to accomplish this enterprise-level
project with a minimum of developers.
Q. Based on your experience, do you have any advice for those entering this
A. Basically there are two worlds in IT, Microsoft and Non-Microsoft. Most of
my experience comes from the Microsoft world and I have gained huge benefits
from it; however, I always keep my eyes open on the Non-Microsoft world. The
Non-Microsoft world is compounded by Sun Java, Oracle Database and other Unix
based solutions. I think there are different philosophies and thinking
between these two basic worlds. Microsoft definitely leans a lot on the
easier user experience, while the Non-Microsoft world is more focused on
delivering solutions to professional technicians. The two philosophies bring
different results: Microsoft products have less of a learning curve even
though they might lose a certain level of stability and performance.
Microsoft has proved that it can switch it’s focus back to stability and
performance as a result of recent products like Windows 2000 server and SQL
The rule to survive in this area is: “changing”, you have to catch up the
speed of “change”. Because of the rapid changes, newcomers can easily find
unique positions compared to those with greater experience. The fast wave, so
to speak, will cast aside those who can’t maintain the speed of change and it
will leave opportunities for those who accept its challenge.
Q. What makes Dot net solution unique?
A. I found Dot Net was very easy to master. Due to my previous programming
experience on ASP, VB and Java, I didn’t experience any learning curve when I
began work with this brand new technology. Though it sometime seemed like
Java, sometimes Access, sometimes ASP, I could use all of it due to the
knowledge I had already acquired. Very seldom did I find myself stuck on a
new concept. Even our first tools allow us to do web front-end,
object-oriented programming. What exciting news for our programmers! When I
program on Dot Net, it is more like programming in a Windows environment. The
rich user and event-driven background makes things easier than any other
web-based programming. It is also very easy to deploy and use, making it very
cost-effective compared to Java equivalent EJB.
I found Dot NET to be MUCH more memory efficient than anything I’ve seen so
far in Java. All web forms share same CLR that uses significantly less
memory. This will have advantages for ISP's who group multiple companies on a
single host by assigning different domains to different IP addresses.
Q. What is the benefit of Dot Net to support multiple languages?
A. No language has the advantage in all situations. Some languages are just
more effective than others in certain circumstances. For instance, JScript
and LISP allow you to literally write the program as it's running. VB.Net is
easy to read, has better control structures than Java and provides most of
the functionality of C# which, by the way, allows pointers, unchecked
calculations, and other unsafe things considered too unacceptable for VB. On
one hand a developer must always be up-to-date in his field (everybody is
more or less specialized) and have an open mind for new trends. On the other
hand, it's also not wise to try to “catch every train” which passes by. It's
not about making Microsoft applications "web capable". It's about
providing superior tools for developing Web-enabled applications on the
Q. Describe your programming experience on Dot Net platform?
A. Dot Net has greater advantages than other web based languages. Current
programming languages for data driven web application are limited by their
nature: Perl’s development lifecycles are too long; ASP is not an
event-driven or object-orient language, same as JSP. Dot Net is a server side
event- driven platform which means that it can handle an event from the
server side. This largely increases the capability of web-based applications.
While I am working with Dot Net, I find that user defined web controls are
very easy to use and reduces the programmer’s development time by reuse user
controls. However, the event handling in user controls still needs to be
greatly improved. Overall, Dot Net definitely represents the design principle
of web-based application and is the most advance platform for web-based
application even though it still has a long way to maturity.
Q. Could you explain what is Dot Net?
A. Dot Net is a web-based application solution. It is more an infrastructure
than a language. It contains two main languages: VB.net and C# and 15 other
supporting languages. It deploys the Windows 2000 and SQL 2000 servers. It
includes multi-tiered architecture. It provides a Windows application
programming experience to web-based application.
Q. How do you see XML as an important component fitting into this picture?
A. Lots of people have heard about XML for quite sometime but there are some
misunderstandings about XML. For example, XML would replace HTML and work on
the presentation layer. Another one would be that XML would dominate and
replace everything. After working with XML for about one year, I found that
instead of being a replacement for HTML, XML is more like another option for
data storage rather than a Database server. XML is designed for “EXCHANGE”
data, not “DISPLAY” data. XML can represent more than two dimensions data
structure like other database servers. It is easier to transfer data but more
difficult to do frequent transactional operations. On my recent project, I
used XML to store web site structure and layout. I also use XML for passing
data between client and server. It is more like a translator between
Q. Will C# replace Java?
A. At the moment, C# is still platform dependent and in beta version. It is
difficult to see any great benefit in upgrading old, large Java apps to C#. However,
C# is a Java/C++ look-alike and has all the advantages of both worlds minus
its weaknesses. C# namespace is much more elegant than the Java namespace
base on directories. You’ve probably heard about all the problems related to
directory-based namespace when deploying your apps. When Dot Net becomes
platform independent or Windows becomes an enterprise level operations
system, I can see C# will surpass Java like Microsoft did to Novell, WPS and
Borland. I believe it will win out in the long run.
Q. What do you think needs to be done to improve Dot Net’s current version?
A. I found Dot Net framework Beta 1 to be very stable compared to Virtual
[Visual] Studio. Net. We stopped using Virtual Studio.Net Beta after our
first try. Another aspect that I found while programming was handling the
dropdown list to represent one-too-many relationships in web forms is still
limited. A great benefit of using Access or VB programming is that these
Windows application can handle controls like a dropdown list for representing
multiple relationships easily. While in Dot Net, you can see the improvement
but there are still limitations. The overall concepts of Dot Net are great:
things like web user controls, multi dimension record set - Data set. Web
user controls save programming lifecycle a lot while but there is still room
for a lot of improvement. It didn’t handle that event very well and it will
lose data set every time you refresh.