GeoGems: An ASP.Net Core App on Linux

GeoGems

Articles in This Series

GeoGems Part 1: Getting Set Up

The Idea

I’m starting a new “practice project” to suss out creating a complex .Net application on Linux. The application is going to be called GeoGems.io. I’m a runner, but now that I’m older and have a child and slower etc…I don’t really run to be fast anymore.  I just run because I love to run. But I love to trail run and run on routes I’ve never encountered before. A lot of times I’ll come across awesome urban art or other really cool landmarks.  I was thinking how cool it would be to have a running app that showed you cool things that others had tagged that you were near…so you could change course and go check things out as you run. And also allow you as a runner to share things you’ve found. So the basic idea is that you can use an app to stop and take pictures and “GeoCode” and tag sites as you run or walk. I’d also like to track some basic running stats like distance and pace. Kind of a combination of a running app and a geocaching app, but based on landmarks as the things to find.

My Technology Stack

The goal is to use free/opensource in all possible cases to keep this zero cost. I want to create this app with C# running ASP.Net Core on Linux. I want to use Docker as my deployment approach.  I’m thinking about Aurelia for the admin front end and Ionic 2 for the mobile web/web app. If Aurelia releases their Aurelia Interface product any time soon I might swap that for Ionic. I’ll probably want some kind of event sourcing backend for recording route events so I’m probably going to try Marten, since that sits on Postgres and also has a document store capability (and then the underlying relational DB if I need it). Hopefully they release the event store support soon.

Code Tools

I’m planning on coding this on Linux (Ubuntu) as well, so I’ll be using Visual Studio Code with OmniSharp. I’ll also use Code as my JavaScript editor for client apps.

Deployment

I want to deploy to the cloud, so I’m thinking DigitalOcean (although AWS does have their free plan). You just get so much bang for your buck with DigitalOcean.

Why This Approach

There are several.  The first is that I’ve been a Windows/Mac user my entire life, including my entire coding life and always wanted to explore Linux in more detail. And the move for .Net Core to support Linux is compelling for several reasons:

  • Because it’s there…why not give it a shot?
  • Cost – Price out some Windows VM’s on Azure vs Linux VMs.  The Linux VMs come in at 60% of the cost.  That’s huge for a startup or even ambitious hobby projects.
  • Platforms/Hosts – Using Linux opens up several awesome and inexpensive hosts like Digital Ocean.  It also opens up some great DevOps/Depoyment tools like Docker. I know Windows containers are on the horizon…but they are definitely behind the curve and they still need to run on Windows (see Cost).
  • .Net and C# are awesome – I’ve used various Node frameworks and they are impressive…but there’s something to be said about the sweet spot that C# hits as a strongly typed language with so many features, like:
    • Lambdas/LINQ/Delegates
    • Async/Await
    • Great Generics support
    • Dynamics
    • Immutables
    • I could go on for a while here…it’s a fantastic language…and C# 7 looks to be even better.
  • .Net has a solid and growing open source community…and now even .Net Core is open source…so long Ballmer…
  • .Net Core Performance on Kestrel is impressive…even for the RC, so you’re getting a lot of bang for your compute buck.  This great performance means smaller/fewer servers in your farm.

So why not just develop on Windows using Visual Studio 2015 (which I have available) and target the core framework so that you can run on Linux?  There are a couple of reasons.  The first is that, as mentioned above, I want to improve my comfort with Linux as well as get a better grasp of using a “minimal toolset” approach.  The other is ease of integration with Docker. Docker can be set up on Windows (currently by using VirtualBox)…but it’s really just a mini Linux VM…why not just get on Linux instead where it’s a first class citizen?

That’s all for now…I’ll use this as a landing page for upcoming posts.

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