A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate in the IT-Boxing event that took place last thursday, March 6th in Sofia, Bulgaria. The IT-Boxing event is a one-night competition, organized by the Bulgarian Association of Software Developers (BASD), in which a couple of teams battle to be the best. Each of these competitions has a particular theme and the one in which I joined was "Web development platforms". There were four teams representing Java (Echo2, Google Web Toolkit, Java Server Faces), PHP (Symphony), Ruby (on Rails) and ASP.NET. Each team is given a couple of timeslots of 20 minutes to demonstrate a particular part of their framework that would crush the opposition in features, demos, arguments, beauty and plain insults of the others. If arguments are not enough, you could always try to beat your opponent another way: with raw physical power. Check out the video of one of those fights (use the YouTube version if SoapBox doesn’t work for you).
Note: no humans were hurt (badly) making this movie.
I got two out of three slots to show off the capabilities of ASP.NET AJAX and the ASP.NET MVC Framework (of course the CTP2 version that was released just the day before at MIX08!). Emil Stoychev demo-ed the Dynamic data controls. We stomped the opposition with great arguments. A certain victory awaited us, or did it?
Well, as it turned out the Java team won that night. Their main argument against ASP.NET was that the combination of Visual Studio and the ASP.NET framework was too much designer and clicking around to get things done. Java would allow (and need) you to write most code by hand, but that was "much more development at enterprise level". Cheaters as they were (pun intended here), they pulled in the entire J2EE platform to show that Java development was the way for large enterprises. Their only "real" demo was a video of some Content Management System that was shown as a video, and a boring one at that. Sigh. During the discussion round we argued that we could show off products like BizTalk, SharePoint and the like, but that this was all about web development frameworks. Unfortunately, nearly all .NET devotees had gone home early, sure of the immense victory, only to make it a small one for the Java team. All-in-all around 150 votes (out of 300 attendees) were given: 79 for Java, 49 for ASP.NET, 13 or so for Ruby and 11 for PHP.
Despite the loss I had so much fun on this event. It is a welcome change from the normal user group meetings with a vibrant, animated and fun format. To top, this one was cross-platform and therefore very educational for anyone that is mainly dedicated to a single platform. There are so many options, even for a single framework or platform. Call to Dutch user-group organizers: do a similar event in the Netherlands. Should be good fun. The event in Sofia got 300+ people to attend on a normal weekday evening. Nuff said.