I'm faced with a bit of a quandary, which isn't so unusual except that this time, it doesn't involve a sister-cousin and a priest. I have carte blanche to work on an updated version of an application for my dad's company. And excited am I at the prospect of applying some of my recently obtained knowledge in a relatively unrestricted space.

The quandary I've been mulling over, though, is the UI. The original app is web-based and seven years old when choices were fairly limited when you built an app that needed to be accessible in multiple offices. It is fairly XML/XSL/XMLHTTP-y which is what I was into at the time but for the most part, it's your average everyday ASP app.

Fast forward to 2007 and your options include, but are not limited to: "Traditional" ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX, Smart Client/ClickOnce, Ruby on Rails, Silverlight, SharePoint, MonoRail, Spring.NET, ASP.NET AJAX Control toolkit, CAB (okay, I'm not really serious about that one), WPF, WCF/Web Services. And various combinations thereof.

And those combinations can be a little tricky. How does ASP.NET AJAX fit in with Silverlight? Can I reasonably use ASP.NET AJAX Controls within a MonoRail view? Is it even possible to get CAB to compile? It seems that making a decision to use one of these may have an impact on how to (or even whether to) use others.

So let it not be said that having free reign on a project is always a good thing. At present, I'm planning to fall back on my standard consulting strategy. Namely, start with technology that makes sense for the project and put all the shiny ones on my wish list aside. If I can justify at least investigating using any of them later, then I will.

Not that that makes the decision any easier. "SmartClient or web app?" is a pretty fundamental question with pros and cons on both sides. Hopefully, my one brother will insist that he has to be able to use it at home on his iMac in which case, I don't have to think about it. After that, I'll start with MonoRail (and add "of course" to that statement to make it sound like I roll with the big boys) and see where life takes me.

I've said it before: It's hard out here for a hillbilly.

Kyle the Chosen