On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 01:45:33PM -0500, Tim Martens wrote:

> Hi Everyone,
> New to the list. Hello!
> I'm in the customer discovery phase for a Health IT web application concept
> I have. My programmer is new to web apps, but not to programming and is set
> up with LAM(PHP). We're still debating weather to use a framework or to go
> with Rasmus's "no framework framework" approach.
> Language/Framework decisions aside... my main question is about subdomain (
> customerx.appname.com vs subdirectory (appname.com/customerx/) models for
> instances of individual customers' accounts.
> It seems most people are opting for the former -- is this but a trebd? --
> but I see flickr use the latter. The guys at Particletree (i.e., Wufoo)
> wrote a blog post about it (
> http://particletree.com/notebook/subdomains-development-sucks/) years ago to
> which they still attest.
> They say the subdirectory model is much easier and faster to develop and
> deploy. We are developing locally on our macs and will be using
> Mecurial/Bitbucket for CVS.

Use subdirs. If I'm not mistaken, subdomains require web server tweaking
that may be beyond your team's expertise.

What you're seeing as subdirectories doesn't necessarily strictly
represent actual subdirectories on disk. URLs using subdirectories can
be (and often are) simply devices to make URLs look "prettier". In fact,
with some simple web server tweaking (emphasis on simple), your
application can map URLs like that to what's actually going on, like:

appname.com/whosinsured/customerx =>


> I'm really lost on this issue as all my searches turn up stuff on SEO/SEM.
> Is one approach easier that the other? What about security and scalability
> considerations? I would very much appreciate your opinions as to the pros
> and cons of each approach.

I believe this is a red herring. I'm not an expert on SEO, but I believe
it works, at its base, simply by HTTP calls to a web server. If the URL
is stable and cacheable, then I believe it should suffer no penalty with
regard to SEO, no matter how you craft your URLs.

Here's where that wouldn't be the case-- if a page has a URL which
contains a random or similar "key". For example, when subscribing to a
list which runs on the "mailman" package, you are emailed a link which
contains some long alphanumeric key on the end. You go to that URL to
confirm your wish to join the list. But the link is temporary and
expires after a period of time. That type of thing wouldn't work well in
an SEO environment.

I've read arguments pro and con for what kinds of URLs are SEO-friendly,
but I've never seen a search engine make any definitive statement about
them. From what I've read, Google doesn't seem to care.

> As an aside, does anyone have some advice about rapid PHP deployment, i.e.,
> pushing new features to production daily in micro iterations vs the typical
> milestone approach? Are there any good tools for this? What about hosts?

Another issue where the development community is divided. Here's my take
on this. It takes a lot of effort to release a new version of a product.
Your sources have to be pristine, you have to double-check your builds,
you have to compensate for changes in the development environment which
may not be echoed on user machines, etc. etc. Moreover, you mustn't dare
release a publicly available version of your product without full
testing. And if you're doing incremental releases, that means your
testers have to test your full product every time a new revision comes
down, which can be daily or less. It's a lot of work. Despite the debate
on this, I think you'll find most publicly available software is
released based on milestones.


Paul M. Foster

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