An open-source software battle
If you are looking to test the efficacy of a particular market sub-category or even a total strategy shift for your business, why not look toward an open-source software solution written in ASP? For one, you might argue that the best and most popular software tends to be scripted in PHP, leaving those restricted to using ASP out of the mix entirely, right? Not so. Below are a few of the top open-source ASP solutions (and a few of their PHP counterparts) to reveal the depth of the software and the activity of communities that support them.
Weblogs: Everybody knows that WordPress is now "the" standard of PHP-scripted weblogs and, in some instances, CMS systems too. But what about those requiring an ASP format? Oxite is an open-source, standards compliant and extensible content management system that can run anything from personal blogs to websites on a far larger scale. Another open-source blogging platform for ASP.NET 2.0 is dasBlog (dasblog.info). In addition to being an attractive solution from front-to-back, dasBlog requires no database; using file-based content management instead. The winner here is WordPress, thanks to an impressive standard feature set that grows quickly and volumes of plugins to satisfy any functionality request.
CMS: There are hundreds of solutions to help manage content assets scripted in PHP, but the open-source options in ASP are far fewer and certainly less well known - but not by much. DotNetNuke is powering some 500,000 sites in production, according to the company, and is one of the leading Web CMS and app development platforms for Microsoft .NET. Another respected option is Umbraco, a CMS written in c# on the Microsoft .NET platform. The software is fast and flexible and has established its own rather active community and following. Joomla and Drupal are powerful content management platforms for those requiring PHP with active communities, but despite their strong track records are not extraordinary enough on their own to warrant an entire shift in platform. The winner here is everyone - as there are hundreds of solutions on the market (just check out CMSmatrix.org) written in both PHP and ASP.
Ecommerce: The open-source options are even fewer for Internet retailers but arguably no less robust when it comes to ASP. NopCommerce is an open source ecommerce solution that is ASP.NET 3.5-based with a MS SQL 2005 (or higher) backend database. DashCommerce is another leading ASP.NET open source ecommerce application that offers all the standard features such as product catalogs, shopping carts and order fulfillment mechanisms. OsCommerce and Zen Cart are but two of the most popular, historically, but Magento is an up-and-comer that is certainly making waves. As of March, 2010, the software maker currently had over 60,000 merchants using its software.
Ecommerce Software in Action - Open-Source Style
If you have worked with different ecommerce systems, you understand that the core functionality remains pretty much the same across platforms. For this reason, keep in mind that the "right" software solution for you is the one that is intuitive, efficient and extensible - that it's easy to manage for your needs, is coded properly with minimal bugs (and secure) and that new functionality is continually adopted through the use of plugins or add-on modules. Should the software system you select meet those requirements, the rest is up to you. Check out the general similarities in the front ends of two popular open source ecommerce solutions, in Magento and nopCommerce.
There are limitations in every organization, so understanding what they are (the programmer or designer never learned PHP, or the business requires a Windows Server over Linux) is of paramount importance to your success. There are no losers in this software battle, only winners (that means you). Selecting the right software that balances marketing objectives with business limitations is the best way to take a measured response to testing out software for your business.