I’ve been following the new ASP.NET MVC framework quite close lately because it looks so damn cool. Not only does it make your website testable in a much richer way, but it also adds abstraction between your different UI tiers. It can do these things because it uses a somewhat strict code separation principle like all MVC frameworks do.

So instead of just adding an .aspx page (with its code-behind file auto-inserted by Visual Studio) to your website, the MVC framework wants you to add a model and a controller as well. The .aspx along with the model and controller is highly abstracted so you can replace one of them easily without changing the others. We know this from the class libraries and components we’ve build for many years – something called low coupling.

The divide

Because the MVC framework is a much stricter environment it will have effect on who is going to use it. The professional and hardcore developers will love it for all its advantages, but what about the hobby developers? To say it in another way, if the MVC only attracts the great developers what will happen to the good ones?

The great developers care deeply about abstraction and testability and they will probably use the MVC framework for any new project they start building. The good and hobby developers probably won’t – in fact they might never feel attracted due to the strict nature of the framework. They might think of it as more complex which I would agree with to some extend.

If we for a moment believe that it is what’s going to happen, then we end up with a developer divide in the ASP.NET work force. Some companies hire MVC developers which now only covers a portion of the work force. The other companies who use standard ASP.NET might not be attractive to MVC developers and will only reach the other portion. With the current developer labour shortage where both great and good developers are needed I can foresee trouble.

Dual community

Because the MVC will split the developers in two portions we should expect the same to happen to the ASP.NET community online as well as offline. The MVC developers might stop visiting the standard ASP.NET community websites and vica verca. It is not entirely true because both frameworks use many of the same components such as the provider model etc.

However, the MVC framework doesn’t use the postback model or the page life cycle so a lot of tutorials, examples and other community writing will become uninteresting for MVC developers. My fear is that the result will be a dual community which could hurt everyone because there will be less relevant material available online. Less relevant because the MVC developers will write mostly about MVC stuff and ASP.NET developers about standard ASP.NET stuff and thereby will the amount of written material be divided into two variations that isn’t always directly usable by the other portion of developers.

Since search driven development is so important for the everyday developer, I see this as a serious threat to the community. If the MVC framework can attract non .NET developers to shift to the .NET platform this probably won’t be as serious.

I think it’s great that Microsoft is building an MVC framework and I look forward to exploring it and hopefully build some solutions with it. I just fear it comes at a price and the community will ultimately pay. Time will tell. If you haven't seen it yet, then go watch a video of Scott Guthrie demonstrating the MVC framework.