By Deane Barker on September 2, 2006

Wasabi: In response to comments from his post yesterday (which we discussed), Joel has released information about Wasabi, which is a compiler they wrote so they code generate code for FogBugz in VBScript (for Windows) or PHP (for Linux).

Fog Creek used to write in VBScript and automatically convert it to PHP via something called Thistle (detailed here), but this has apparently changed.

Since we don’t want to program in VBScript or PHP4 or even PHP5 and we certainly don’t want to have to port everything to three target platforms, the best solution for us is a custom language that compiles to our target platforms.

And, yes, PHP runs on Windows, but he lists numerous reasons why it’s easier to do it this way.

This all goes back to a interview with Spolsky I listened to (and blogged about) last year in which he discusses that you need to stay away from proprietary languages (like .Net) if you’re going to be selling your product. You need to write your product in a free language so you know it will always be there, then convert it to other (proprietary) languages if you want.

In this sense, programming in VBScript was actually a huge benefit for Fog Creek. Because it’s such a limited language, it kept them working in the “lowest common denominator,” so they didn’t do anything that couldn’t be handled in multiple other languages. Put another way, there ain’t one single thing that classic ASP does that PHP can’t do, however, the inverse isn’t true at all.

Like his comments on Rails, it’s a debatable point, but it seems to work well for them.

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  1. Even though PHP is available for Windows, it’s not preinstalled, and I don’t want to pay engineers to help all of our Windows customers install PHP

    Hiring someone to install PHP on windows certainly seems a lot easier that what they are doing. Not to mention point and click PHP installers in windows like XAMPP. How hard is that.

  2. I tend to agree. However in many corporate Windows-based IT shops, PHP is not an “approved” execution or development environment. To get a PHP app approved in many of the companies I worked at would be next to impossible.

    Also, Xampp installs more than just PHP: Apache, MySQL, etc.

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