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From "Steven J. Owens" <>
Subject Re: [OT]JSP defense - can you point me in the right direction
Date Thu, 06 Feb 2003 22:26:54 GMT

On Thu, Feb 06, 2003 at 01:36:39PM -0500, Denise Mangano wrote:
> To make matters worse, I just found out that the reason they are being
> adamant is because the person with the working examples wants to take the
> prototype from this project and use it for another.  Correct me if I'm
> wrong, but I thought we're supposed to meet the client's needs...?

     Nope, you're supposed to meet the shareholder's needs (of your
company) by making the client happy with the minimum necessary cost
and maximum profit to your company.  Now, "happy" is another question;
your best strategy might be to assemble some sort of case that
demonstrates that their current strategy is going to burn that
customer and deprive your company of repeat business.

> Still in my eyes, why would they choose CGI?!

     Better the devil you know... 

     CGIs are very simple, fast to develop, and typically written in a
fairly friendly language.  In this case, I beleive you mentioned perl.
Although it's certainly possible to write ugly code in any language,
and easier to do so in perl (lots of fun implicit behavior you can
take advantage of in the language syntax), perl is also very easy to
get things done with.  It also tends to get more awkward when you
scale up the project complexity.  

     Perl can provide quite sufficient performance for most middling
sized sites.  You can even run fairly large sites on perl, using
mod_perl, but now you've just sacrificed a big chunk of the simplicity
of writing stuff in CGIs.  By the time you get finished doing
everything you need to do it in mod_perl, you've invested as much time
and energy as you would have on servlets, you're in a very rarified
area of perl (where the talent pool for further work is hard to come
by), and you might as well have started in java servlets.

     Coding perl is like having a conversation with a friend.  Coding
java is like having a conversation with a nit-picking lawyer.  The
friend is a great guy to have around when you just want to get a small
job done, but the lawyer is a great guy to have around when you're
structuring a large and long-term business deal.

     It may also be that the DB guys are contemplating having a lot of
the complicated stuff in the database, and just using the CGIs to glue
the HTML forms to the stored procedures and such.  This is a common
and generally very smart strategy - before trying to solve the
problem, move the problem into a space you're well-equipped to deal
with.  I'm not sure if this is the case, you may want to check on it
before you make your case against the strategy.
> At this point I have not been trying to convince them of JSP,

     I'd be careful of advocating JSP too strongly, and certainly not
pure JSP.  I'm really not too happy with JSP for anything beyond the
simplest sort of stuff, the sort of stuff you would do with a
server-side include in perl.  I'm also not happy with having a zillion
custom javabeans;  I'm quite close to just writing my own generic,
flexible, XML-driven pseudo-javabean for this purpose, though I still
need to play more with the Struts dynabean stuff to see if it fills
that need.

     I haven't yet settled on an alternative (some of the comments
about velocity in another message in this thread are making me curious
about it), but I'm strongly leaning towards some sort of
template-oriented approach.

> just that CGI is not the way to go.  And it is like talking to a
> wall.  Since there is a good chance of me staying on the project
> long after the other team members are gone, I'm thinking I may have
> to approach the client with the dilemma, but I'd hate to seem
> unprofessional.  This is definitely getting ugly and sadly enough I
> may have to just remove my self from the situation although I would
> obviously rather not have to.

     If you're going to be the one stuck maintaining this, you have a
very strong stake in what technologies are used.  If at all possible,
avoid going to the client; if you don't have somebody higher up you
can go to on your own side, then you may want to think seriously about
offering to resign; don't bring this up as an ultimatum unless you're
willing to do so, however.

Steven J. Owens

"I'm going to make broad, sweeping generalizations and strong,
 declarative statements, because otherwise I'll be here all night and
 this document will be four times longer and much less fun to read.
 Take it all with a grain of salt." - Me at

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