[thelist] What tools should I use?

Ian Anderson ian at zstudio.co.uk
Mon Sep 12 12:11:52 CDT 2005

April wrote:

> To start with, the initial licensing costs to set up a server aren't 
> completely trivial.  For example, check out 
> http://www.microsoft.com/sql/howtobuy/default.mspx. I don't run a 
> Windows server so I don't know if there's a way around paying $667 to 
> have SQL server on your own server, but that page sure looks daunting.

I disagree. Microsoft provide you with the Developer Edition of SQL 
Server for UK £30 on a CD. It costs less than a textbook, and is the 
full production installation of SQL Server and all the client tools. Not 
time limited or feature impaired in any way.

You don't have to pay a penny more than this and the Windows XP Pro that 
you probably already have on your PC to have a production environment 
suitable for development and testing.

In my opinion, the open-source option may be much more costly for some 
of the reasons that have already been stated and more.


1. Poor documentation and specification of standard features

2. Differences in deployment on different servers; some ISPs have older 
versions of PHP and MySQL, and it really matters. For example, older 
MySQL doesn't support subqueries. It cost me two days to find this out 
when a site that worked perfectly on my hosting broke when ported onto 
the client's web space and a lot of SQL and PHP code had to be 
rewritten. Now I know to check the version of PHP and of MySQL before I 
start, and most importantly do a phpinfo() on the new box to check its setup

3. PHP setup varies immensely. e.g.; to protect against SQL injection 
and to allow ' in form input, you should use the addslashes function on 
all content from the browser, including cookies, GET and POST data. 
EXCEPT, if the server has the magic quotes feature turned on, which does 
this automatically, then you must not use it! Because you get the 
escaping of ' done twice.  Some ISPs have it on, some don't. How can you 
write portable code? You have to use a specific function to test if 
magic quotes is on then write two different versions of the code that 
imports any input from the user! It's a joke.

There is also much more scope for errors when learning LAMP; for 
instance, when setting up MySQL tables under PHPMyAdmin you are asked to 
specify which table types to use. Beginners should not be exposed to 
this sort of thing, and costly errors are very easy.

In my opinon the learning curve with Classic ASP was easier than that 
with PHP; I am glad I learned ASP first, but I am also glad I now know PHP.

In the UK commercial web design market, PHP and LAMP is probably more 
desirable to have in terms of getting freelance work, but is likely to 
be slower and more frustrating to learn, IMO.

Hope this helps



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