You can run Django in IronPython under .Net. Awesome. A Windows-based server is suddenly a choice again, which is… fantastic. Mostly for piping documents through MS Office products for indexing and PDF generation, because OO.o is great with Word docs but not so great — font sizing issues, etc. — with other things, especially PowerPoint, which could account for up to a quarter of the content contributed by users, I’d say. So I can run native MS Office -> PostScript export -> ps2pdf processes, and MS Office -> Horrible XML -> Scrub markup filters -> Search index, without having to battle with Wine, etc.
Of course, the second process would probably benefit from using OO.o as a processing environment, but that’s equally achievable on a Windows or *nix platform.
So many fears about platform (OS and language) have been sufficiently allayed. Which is kind of annoying, because, all of a sudden, .Net is actually an option. I’m still confused over databases though, so there’s plenty of befuddlement to go around. Ultimately it doesn’t matter a great deal if we find the right developer (for whatever language… except obscure things like Smalltalk and Ruby … oh did I say that? … doo be doo — just for future-proofing/maintenance reasons), which, hopefully, we will. Another meeting about money for this thing is happening on December 13th, so prayer is very welcome for that! I want $35,000 to spend over about two and a half months to pay one other developer and outsource design, as well as myself, of course (the front-end dude). By the end of that time we’ll hopefully have an absolutely fantastic solution that will magically propel (not that I really want to use Propel, because that’s for PHP ;-)) itself forever… yeah, right.
We’ve got a half-baked business plan for this thing (by half-baked, I mean it’s all stuff I’ve written and the real gurus haven’t had anything to do with the numbers, etc., so it’s not really authorative) that should get it out of the red by a couple of months in (which is ridiculously quick… another reason to think it’s half-baked) and allow for cleaning up all the bits we missed in the hectic two and a bit months it was originally thrown together in, but, at the same time, it’s going to be partially dependent on licensed, published (dead tree) content (i.e. not just user-contributed stuff, which, longer term, will hopefully account for the bulk of sales — the profit margin is lower, but it’s also easier to move more units because of the sheer scope of content we’re hoping will be available) — so because we’re licensing that revenue is going to be eaten into by publishing division and other content sources.
All of that is, of course, dependent on people wanting to use these things (they do, but from there it’s a question of making the product known to them and making adoption easy) and being okay with sharing stuff they’ve written. Some knee-jerk reactions have been negative to that, but the objections were accompanied by acknowledgement of a need to think more about what sharing content is doing — that is, why we’re bothering to create this site anyway.
Which, I have realised, I have not shared here yet. I want to write it another time because I think I’m getting clearer at explaining what we’re trying to do every time I try, so it’s no bad thing repeating myself. Here’s a brief overview of what Josh does (or, is trying to do) at Youthworks.