A Brief History of Time

We've always talked about our hardware upgrades and how well they perform. Our hardware architecture is, no doubt, critical to the success of the site, but the software that actually runs AnandTech.com is equally important. Recently, we performed a major architecture shift from a ColdFusion based back-end to Microsoft.NET. We thought that this would be an interesting article, to highlight the history of AnandTech.com from a software perspective.

In this article, we will discuss background information on the following platforms:


Macromedia ColdFusion is a web-based language that focuses on the RAD development of dynamic web content. ColdFusion started off based on a C++ runtime that interpreted code within HTML templates and compiled it into PCODE, which was then interpreted by the ColdFusion runtime and delivered to the web server and, in turn, to the end user requesting the page. ColdFusion back then was similar to PHP and ASP. Recently, Macromedia decided to take the ColdFusion language to a standards based platform, JAVA. ColdFusion runs on top of almost any J2EE server; we used the ColdFusion standalone version, which uses Macromedia JRUN as the J2EE server. ColdFusion templates are written in CFML (ColdFusion Markup Language) and then compiled down to JAVA byte code and executed by the J2EE server. Macromedia used to be the only game in town, in terms of ColdFusion. Now, a company named New Atlanta makes a ColdFusion server that also runs on .NET.

Microsoft .NET

The .NET platform is the new framework for building Windows based and web-based applications from Microsoft. It not only replaces the older ASP platform, but introduces some up-to-date languages that run on the Common Language Runtime, which is the backbone of .NET. The three main languages used with .NET are: C# (similar to C++), VB.NET (somewhat similar to VB) and J# (fairly close to JAVA). The beauty of this architecture is that it brings different developers together on a single platform. Those who wrote mostly in C++ or JAVA will probably choose C#; and those who are familiar with VB or more verbose languages will probably choose VB.NET. J# is there for the JAVA developer. Whatever language in which you write your code, it is compiled into an intermediate language, CIL (Common Intermediate Language), which is then managed and executed by the CLR. ASP.NET is simply another .NET based environment that allows you to write in any of the languages that run on the CLR. Its syntax is similar to ASP.

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  • FFS - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    Clean design it's a half of succes.
    Look at Google - it is not only that powerfully search made it popular like now, but super clean design too.
    The Inquirer is also nice and clean...
    I 100% understand that you can't please 'em all :).
    But cleanness also will bring more speed... Correct me if I'm wrong
    And you still could have a style as well (that's why I mentioned [H]ard|OCP - even thou I'm not such a big fun of black and red)
  • simms - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    We still need a :cookie; emoticon.
  • SlingXShot - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    With all these Anandtech versions, anandtech should be an artifical inteligence already. :-D
  • JasonClark - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    FFS: Can't please em all :). We're happy with it, i do agree about the white background. It's something we're looking at, but it isnt an easy fix with the css layout.

  • FFS - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    It is very good article indeed...
    About speed subjectively it loads slower and slower for me on my FireFox 0.9.2. - but of cause you have benchmarked everything :)
    Once I've read on Inq that there are two types of hardware lies: lies and benchmarks :)))
    However improving the code for the better one and therefore the speed it is not the only thing about nice web page.
    Another thing is design. And I have to admit (again from my point of view) that from version 3 to 5 its mostly regressed.
    Especially that gray background covering the article so it's impossible to read during the page loading time, which a pretty long.
    PLEASE remove that gray background (keep it white like on v.3)
    Tabs on the top - good idea, but bad realization - no clean borders - small fonts e.t.c.
    Again news section - even worst one gray on another gray - have you herd about contrast colors? :((
    Too be honest best hardware-review site design so far is [H]ard|OCP...

    Funny but for me this article sound like excuse for the creating the page, which loads adds very fast but ...(see above)
    Is that a hidden feature of .NET We could expect everything from MS (even anti-virus prog :))
    Don't get me wrong - I'm also using WinXP, and have the same opinion about it - it is not less stable then Linux in good hands,
    although not that stable as Mac OS X even in "simple" hands (again I'm not Apple fun as it could seemed)...

    Sorry it was already too much I wrote.
    As resume - great team, superb reviews, but sorry - bad web page...
  • Macaw - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Nice article.

    The whole .NET framework is pretty extensive. I have some nice things on image-generation from .NET if you want the source. You can use GDI+ from .NET to generate uber cool graphs.

  • JasonClark - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    SlingXShot, lol jobless? We innovate, so that means writing new code and improving all the time. Sitting on the same code for 10 years doesn't seem very innovative to me. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, thus versions. If people didn't freshen their code we'd still be running windows 3.11 for workgroups, yek.

    Brickster, we're using SQL Server 2000 on Windows 2003 Enterpise server. That is running on a quad opteron 848 with 8GB of ram and 150 GB Raid 10 array. Can we say overkill :)

  • SlingXShot - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    JasonClark, just that you have so many version of Anandtech, I guess you need the new versions of software to change code or you would be jobless right?
  • Brickster - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Jason, maybe I missed it, but what database platform are you using with the latest AT 5.0?

    Thanks again!
  • fbaum - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Heyyo Jason, thx for the reply, and for qualifying the graphs. Would love to see a fair platform compario but that would be a lot of work and as you pointed out that's not really the point. I'm using VS 2003 on a project now, developing a C# .NET web service to interface with a B2B messaging hub, it's kind of complex, and I'm yearning a bit for the more immediately gratifying CF web development I had on my previous project. As a CF fan I felt compelled to put in my $0.02.



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