Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Castle MonoRail vs Microsoft MVC

Everyone seems to be chiming in on the newly announced MVC framework from Microsoft. A lot of the posts seem to be very positive.

The most talked about features seem to be:

  • Routing

  • Mockable IHttpRequest/IHttpResponse

  • Type-checked views

The routing feature seems pretty nice, but how far is MonoRail from having this feature? I think that MonoRail is missing this feature mainly because it wasn't developed in the era of IIS6.

IIS7 as I understand it gives the web application access to the web request earlier than IIS6, which gives it more control over the routing capabilities. Currently, IIS6 is not really well suited to be able to handle routing requests when there's no file extension on the URL. I imagine that this feature could be added fairly quickly once there's more motivation and more adoption of IIS7.

The mockability of IHttpRequest and IHttpResponse is a pretty nice feature as well, but couldn't MonoRail do this? Scott Guthrie said that they didn't change ASP.NET at all to get this feature.

Couldn't MonoRail wrap the standard HttpResonse and HttpRequest objects with adapters that implement a similar interface? The major hurdle with this seems to be that this wasn't done in the first place, and there's a lot of code out there that would have to change to use the new interfaces.

I have to admit that type-checked views sound enticing. It would be pretty cool to have refactoring operations automatically change things in the views.

But I've lived in a compiled view world and I really don't want to go back. If I have to recompile my project because I changed something in the view I would be pretty annoyed. It's already a huge annoyance to have to wait for the AppDomain to reload when I change something in a controller. I really don't want to wait for it to reload when I change a view as well.

I remember back in my Java/Struts days, I welcomed a switch in our project to Velocity over JSP files. There was a huge increase in productivity and I really didn't miss the type checking at all.

I love being able to submit a patch or jump on the Castle mailinglist to discuss a quick change that would help my own project and have the change implemented within hours or days. Wouldn't you lose that ability if you switched to Microsoft's MVC?

I guess that's a standard issue when deciding between open source and commercial frameworks. I'm really not ready to give that up, and I think that's one of the main reasons I'll be sticking with MonoRail as long as the project remains as active as it is.

Overall, I am pleased with the announcement. It seems that Microsoft is watching what is going on the community and trying to deliver a better platform for developing web applications.

My main point is that MonoRail is already a great platform that's in use by many, it's actively developed, and I'd be surprised if this new platform from Microsoft doesn't push it to greater heights. As always though, I'll be keeping an open mind as things unfold.

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