When choosing among the different technologies that are available for developing a dynamically driven website, there are many factors to takes into consideration. Some of the most common website based languages include PHP, .NET (dot-net), Java, and ColdFusion.
PHP is an Open Source programming language that was mainly developed by Zendhttp://www.zend.com/ and contributed to by other web developers around the world.
.Net is a Microsoft Framework that supports most popular languages including C#, C, Visual Basic, J# and others.
PHP currently makes up one third of the web applications online due to the nature of Open Source; the environment of continually shared development projects and the low costs involved. Though each language has its pros and cons, many web developers typically have one preference and it's usually the language they have most experience in. Nevertheless, a well versed programmer can get the same outcome regardless of the language.
There are also cost differences to be considered between the different web technologies. Another factor to keep in mind is the level of complexity. Some web technologies can be more challenging to work with than others. For instance, the Open Source movement comes with its own challenges. There are complaints about its lack of documentation, support, and reliability. Since there is really no one company responsible for PHP, if you have installation problems, maintenance issues, want to expand, or if you found an issue that needs fixing, you're essentially on your own.
Though Open Source doesn't have any licencing fees, when you add up the time it takes to setup, make changes, any customization, maintenance, etc. etc. it's no longer free. 9th sphere develops most of its applications in PHP, followed by .Net. We service, support, and maintain our work for clients, providing the best of both low costs of Open Source and the support needed from a solution provider. Many software providers have been watching Open Source closely trying to find ways to work around the risks and with the opportunities it brings. For instance, Microsoft has built a team that focuses entirely on Open Source.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to meet with Garnett Serack of Microsoft's Open Source Labs. He gave a presentation on the initiatives Microsoft has been taking with Open Source and specifically with PHP. Microsoft's team of 12 full-time developers, dedicated to these initiatives, have been working closely with Samba, Apache and Zend to more effectively deploy PHP applications on the Windows environment. This is a very big shift for Microsoft. This movement from traditionally licensed software companies is not new, but more are working towards a similar model. A website solutions company should understand your needs and suggest the solution that is best suited for you.
Be sure to ask why, so you can fully understand the pros and cons of the suggested technologies. Your education and understanding is important to feeling comfortable with making the right final decision.