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Joel on Software

Pro's and con's of WinForms and WebForms?

Hi All,

I'm beginning to lay out an app that will be sold both as a stand-alone Windows desktop application and as a server-based app. Customers will have the option of purchasing and installing the server-based version locally on their own Intranet, or subscribe to a hosted installation. The application will be created using .NET.

We're creating a list if the pro's and con's both of using dynamic deployment with a slightly modified version of the WinForm's desktop app for the server-based version, as well as the pro's and con's of creating an ASP.NET interface for the server-based version. We will use these factors to assist us in determining which way to go.

Do any of you have any thoughts on this, some pro’s and con's to either or both approaches? I thought that some more perspective would be invaluable with this decision.

Thanks in advance for your insight.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

The major differences I've found are summed up as:

- Client UI richness (WinForms UI is much richer than WebForms UI, due to browser limitations) & speed (UI is snappier, more responsive)

- Intelligent data caching (you can make decisions on which data to cache and which data to round-trip, significantly saving on connection usage and making the application more responsive)

- Cross-run persistence (you can persist data across runs of the application to the local box)

- Developer productivity (I've found that WinForms development time is significantly shorter than WebForms)

Pro WebForms:

- Lower client requirements (no need for the runtime on client PCs, just need a compatible browser)

- Cross-browser, cross-platform (though this can be significantly expensive to test, so be careful what you commit to)

Things that used to matter, but don't any more:

- Ease of deployment (HREF EXEs make deploying WinForms apps a snap, although there are .NET 1.0 SP1 security gotchas)

I'm sure there's more. That's all I can think of right now. ;)

Brad Wilson
Monday, October 28, 2002

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