Web Scripting Technology
Active Server Pages (ASP) is a tempting technology, because support for it comes "free" with Microsoft's web server, which comes "free" with Windows Server. But short of installing a third-party implementation of ASP, that means you're kind of stuck with the unstable, hardware-hungry, chronically insecure, and far-from-free Windows NT/2K to run your server. Oh, and Microsoft is already phasing it out, replacing it with ASP.NET (which despite the name is not just an upgraded version of ASP).
One of the most popular toolset combinations for web development is referred to as "LAMP". The initials stand for: Linux (the OS), Apache (the server), MySQL (the database), and the P stands for one of the following scripting languages: PHP, Perl, or Python (all described below). The tools are all free, and support for them is found all over the Web.
high quality low price challenge MS PHP (which is a reflexive abbreviation for Hypertext Pre-Processor) has emerged in recent years as one of the darlings of the open-source community, and is the most popular module running on Apache systems. The code goes directly in your web pages (which can be both a blessing and a curse). It provides easy access to system resources and can pull data from almost any database you're likely to want to use. It's free, of course, and portable to Unix-like systems and Windows. my choice Windows Unix-like RISC OS
high quality low price challenge MS Perl is often treated as synonymous with "CGI scripting". In fact, Perl is even older than the Web itself; it got its nose into the Web-scripting tent and thrived due to its strong text-processing abilities, incredible flexibility (its creator likens it to duct tape), portability (it's available for nearly every modern operating system), and price (free). The Internet Movie Database and Yahoo both run on it. Unix-like Windows Mac OS Symbian Netware OpenVMS BeOS OS/2 Amiga RISC OS DOS
high quality low price challenge MS Python (named after Monty) is another open-source, free, interpreted, interactive, object-oriented language developed for Unix and now available for everything from DOS to Mac OS to OS/2 to Windows to Unix-like systems. It's useful for more than just web programming, and its users include NASA and RedHat Linux. Unix-like Windows Mac OS Palm OS Java OpenVMS Symbian OS OS/2 DOS RISC OS
high quality low price Ruby combines some of the best features of several other languages, leaving behind many of their shortcomings. It's a pure object-oriented language like Smalltalk, but with clearer syntax (inspired by Eiffel). It has powerful text-handling like Perl, but is better structured and more consistent. It borrows ideas - but not the parentheses - from Lisp. It's from Japan (where it's rapidly gaining popularity), but uses the European character set. {smile} Oh, and it's free. Unix-like Windows
close match high quality low price challenge MS JavaServer Pages (JSP) uses Java, the linga franca if cross-platform programming. Sun has handed the standard server over to the Apache Foundation, who'll be developing it as a free product (under the name Tomcat) using the same open-source model that created the rock-solid, ubiquitous Apache web server. It runs on nearly any web server, including Apache, iPlanet, or even Microsoft IIS. Java Windows Unix-like Mac OS Netware
close match high quality challenge MS Adobe Cold Fusion is from the folks who develop the excellent HTML editor HomeSite, which makes sense, because CFML tags are embedded in web pages much like standard HTML tags. It's very powerful, including tools for accessing various databases, but its loosely-typed language is very easy to learn. The main down-side is the cost, but a scaled-down version of the server is available free. For Unix-like systems and Windows. Windows Unix-like
high quality low price challenge MS TCL (pronounced "tickle") can interact well with text-based tools like the powerful editors, compilers, etc. found on Unix-like systems, and its TK extension gives it access to graphical interfaces like Windows, Mac OS, and X-windows, acting as "glue" to tie together standard components to accomplish complex tasks. This modular approach is the conceptual foundation on which Unix itself was based. Unix-like Windows Mac OS Palm OS OpenVMS OS/2
high quality low price Pike is yet another open-source, free language, invented through personal necessity, and now developed by Roxen Internet Software of Sweden, who use it to develop their Roxen Platform web server. It has strong data handling and is fully object-oriented. Its syntax is similar to C, and can be extended to take advantage of compiled C libraries and modules to improve performance. It's available for most Unix-like systems (including OS X) and Windows. Unix-like Windows Mac OS
high quality low price Lisp is "a programmable programming language", built on the concept of recursion and highly adaptable to vague specifications. Avoid it if you find parentheses unappealing, but its ability to handle problems that other languages cannot is one of the reasons this 40+-year-old language is still in use. The Yahoo Store uses Lisp, and there's an entire cross-platform web server written in it. Unix-like Windows Mac OS
challenge MS Although these (along with HTML itself of course) are the languages that seem to be used the most widely in building web sites, in theory one could use just about any language to automate and dynamify a web site. And some of the hundreds of other languages out there are useful far beyond creating web sites. If you find the languages listed here limiting or difficult to work with, go exploring to see what else is out there.
close match a close match or substitute for Microsoft's product
high quality an especially high-quality alternative
low price an inexpensive (or even free) alternative
challenge MS offers a strong challenge to Microsoft's influence
my choice my personal selection
Runs on: Windows Windows, Mac OS Mac OS, Unix-like Unix-like systems, Java Java-compatible systems, Symbian Symbian OS, Palm OS Palm OS, Netware Netware, OpenVMS OpenVMS, BeOS BeOS, OS/2 OS/2, Amiga Amiga, RISC OS RISC OS, DOS DOS
More Options
Comments? Suggestions of other alternatives to include? Send them in, to "contact me at rzero dot com" (without the spaces)

All logos and product names are trademarks of their respective developers or distributors.
This site is in no way affiliated with Microsoft Corporation
© 1999-2008, Rzero.