Drilling into VSTS 2010 Testing

With the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) around the corner, I half expected things to get pretty quiet ahead of the show. So imagine our surprise when the Redmondians began peppering us with new information about upcoming dev-related products like Visual Studio 2010, .NET Framework 4.0, the "Dublin" app server and the "Oslo" modeling and repository initiative.

Updates to Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) took center stage in a recent blog post by Microsoft Developer Division Senior Vice President S. "Soma" Somasegar. He said the next version of Microsoft's VSTS will allow developers to more easily test for and isolate bugs.

Last week, we covered Microsoft's announced plans for the Team System IDE. As part of the announcement, Microsoft officials said it will extend its role-based clients to include a VSTS 2010 Architecture Edition (which includes the Architect Explorer and Layout Diagram designer), a VSTS 2010 Test Edition and a VSTS 2010 Developer Edition.

As ever, Microsoft seems to be taking a crafty tack with its integrated testing. Rather than compete with the full-scale test harnesses provided by third-party vendors, Microsoft is focusing on roles integration -- an enduring theme in the VS space. Specifically, VSTS Test Edition will help testers and developers work more smoothly together by providing better situational awareness for both parties.

"We think about testers as largely disenfranchised from the application lifecycle and the tools that are out there for them aren't where they need to be," said Dave Mendlen, director of developer marketing at Microsoft.

"Overwhelmingly, most of the testing that goes on out there in the industry is manual testing, so we now have a set of tools that enable the manual tester to capture what's going on with their test runs," he added.

The testing tool promises to let the tester specify the precise state of any given build, such as what's been checked in and what's changed in the source code. That way, the developer can compare the state of the build when trying to reproduce the bug. This should help stamp out "no-repro" bugs, Somasegar wrote.

"One of the other common blockers to reproducing a bug is the collection of actionable data on the bug," Somesegar noted. "By providing a set of tools designed specifically for testers, we are enabling better documentation of test scenarios as well as more thorough collection of data when a scenario fails. This includes the collection of system data, as well as stack trace information, screen images and even fully indexed video capture of the testers' screen attached to the bug." Somasegar attached some screens to his post illustrating this feature.

Returning to the roles integration theme, Somasegar pointed out that the "collaboration hub" that's the basis of Team Foundation Server (TFS) "enables all of the roles in the lifecycle to work together on shared requirements, shared code assets, and a powerful build management system."

Ultimately, Somasegar wrote, the new TFS features in VSTS 2010 "provide the same level of visual capabilities for source code and build management as we provide for architectural design."

What do you think of Microsoft's efforts to advance test in VSTS 2010? E-mail me at [email protected].

With reporting by Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/07/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments

jQuery Surprise

Give Microsoft this: The company knows how to fill a news cycle. Over the past week, we've seen new information released about .NET Framework 4.0, Visual Studio 2010 and the new Dublin app server technologies. All of this, of course, just a few weeks ahead of the dev-apalooza that will be PDC 2008.

But lost among all the talk of fresh IDEs and frameworks is this little gem from Microsoft Dev Div chief Scott Guthrie about the jQuery JavaScript library, which will be incorporated into Visual Studio and ASP.NET:

"I'm excited today to announce that Microsoft will be shipping jQuery with Visual Studio going forward. We will distribute the jQuery JavaScript library as-is, and will not be forking or changing the source from the main jQuery branch. The files will continue to use and ship under the existing jQuery MIT license."

That sound you just heard was a million Web developers collectively shouting, "Hell yeah!"

As Kurt Mackie reports for RedDevNews.com, jQuery is a lightweight and simple JavaScript library that enables interaction between JavaScript and HTML. While jQuery is an intriguing tool for AJAX-bound Web developers, the most remarkable thing was Microsoft's decision to forego creating a planned jQuery alternative of its own and to adopt the open source JavaScript library instead.

Guthrie wrote in his blog entry: "Rather than duplicate functionality, we thought, wouldn't it be great to just use jQuery as-is, and add it as a standard, supported, library in VS/ASP.NET, and then focus our energy building new features that took advantage of it?"

Andrew Brust is a Microsoft Regional Director and chief of New Technology at consultancy twentysix New York. He's clearly impressed with Guthrie's stance in this and, honestly, so am I. As Brust noted in his BrustBlog entry:

"Scott's quote demonstrates an uncanny display of common sense that is not necessarily, ummm...Microsoft's hallmark. I believe strongly that this pragmatist, apolitical approach to making .NET better and working with the broad developer community to serve their interests has a strong believer and advocate in Scott Guthrie and that his rising influence in the developer division means we'll continue to see such announcements made and measures taken. This is Microsoft at its best. Bravo."

Bravo, indeed, Microsoft.

What do you think of Microsoft's jQuery decision and how might jQuery fit into your development efforts? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/02/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0: Winning the Name Game

If no news is good news, then the news we got from Microsoft last week was very good news indeed. Microsoft, you see, has released the official names of the upcoming versions of .NET Framework and Visual Studio.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes a name can be news. Like when Microsoft revealed to us that the name for WPF/E would be "Silverlight." Or when we all learned that two of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's children are named Trig and Track. That last example, I suppose, provides some comfort as we learn that Microsoft is working to launch Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0.

"We've got a name called Visual Studio 2010 and that's about all we've got right now," said Dave Mendlen, director of developer marketing at Microsoft, in our meeting. "We're not saying much more about schedule at this point."

As reported by RDN Senior Editor Kathleen Richards, we're learning more about Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2010, which until now was known by the codename "Rosario." For instance, there will be three editions -- Architect, Developer and Test -- of VSTS, each tuned to a specific role. Notably the Database edition, present in VSTS 2008, has been folded into the Developer edition of VSTS 2010.

"Developers are more hybrid today than they were in the past. This need to work not just with the core source code but also with the database is becoming more and more important to them," Mendlen told RDN.

Microsoft working to provide cross-role functionality in its IDEs is hardly surprising; we were all awake for the Expression suite launch, after all. What was a bit surprising was the decision to discontinue Team Foundation Server "Rosario" support for SQL Server 2005. VSTS lead Brian Harry, in a blog post, cited the greatly improved Report Server functionality in SQL Server 2008 as the reason for the move.

What we can expect to see is more sophisticated and dynamic integration across these role-based editions of VSTS. So architects can create and manipulate dynamic models that then may be used to perform "architectural validation" of code at check-in. Or testers can capture code and system interactions during the test process -- what Microsoft calls TiVo for test -- so developers can essentially recreate and replay the issue in Visual Studio. Could it be the end of the scourge of "It works on my box"?

Obviously, this is just the first trickle in what is likely to become a steady stream of news regarding the next versions of Visual Studio and .NET Framework from Microsoft. What new features or capabilities do you most want Microsoft to concentrate on for these products? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/30/2008 at 1:15 PM2 comments

Friends in High Places

If you've been reading Redmond Developer News the past couple years, you may recall seeing the name Andrew Brust in our pages from time to time. As chief of New Technology at consulting firm twentysix New York, vice chairman of the New York Software Industry Association and a Microsoft Regional Director (RD), Brust is a leading light in .NET development.

He also happens to be an active contributor to our VSLive! family of developer conferences, serving as conference chair of the VSLive! New York show earlier this month. It's no surprise, given the breadth of his technical acumen, that our editors often turn to Brust to help us place the events of the day into context for our audience of Microsoft- and .NET-aligned development managers.

As it turns out, we're not the only ones to recognize what Brust has been up to in the industry. Microsoft recently honored him as the 2008 Microsoft Regional Director of the Year. The award, presented at Microsoft's Tech-Ed Developer Conference back in June, singled out Brust as the top RD in the world. For a little perspective, there are 150 RDs worldwide.

In a statement, Microsoft Regional Director Program Manager Kevin Schuler said: "I deeply admire Andrew's intellectual approach to problem solving, his sharp business acumen, and his never-ending drive for fairness. We all benefit greatly from his participation in the Regional Director Program."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Whether diving into the arcana of individual program languages or assessing the impact of broad vendor platform strategies, Brust has always brought an articulate, informed and critical understanding to our discussions with him.

With VSLive! New York behind us and the hectic Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) season ramping up, I wanted to take a minute to congratulate Brust for an honor well-earned.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/25/2008 at 1:15 PM1 comments

Brendan Eich: Browsers Sharpening JavaScript Performance

In the course of writing an upcoming cover feature on Google Chrome and its impact on Google's Web platform aspirations, I had a 30-minute talk with Brendan Eich. In addition to being the chief technical officer of Mozilla Corp., the commercial entity behind Firefox development, Eich also happens to be the creator of the JavaScript programming language.

JavaScript, of course, is central to AJAX-based development and to Google's Web strategy. Eich said that developers shouldn't be too quick to abandon JavaScript development for proprietary rich Internet application (RIA) frameworks like Silverlight and Adobe Flex.

"The thing against those platforms, which have their advantages for sure, is it just seems the Web is going to innovate over time and disrupt those single-vendor platforms," Eich said. "It may not have all the tooling at first or even eventually. It may not have all the platform coherence that a single vendor can make happen by throwing a lot of engineers and a team at the problem. But it will have the reach, provided the browsers are upgraded."

While the V8 JavaScript just-in-time compiler in Chrome has gotten plenty of coverage over the past few weeks, Eich and his team have been hard at work perfecting a JIT compiler of their own for Firefox. The TraceMonkey JavaScript engine is producing significant gains over the SpiderMonkey interpreter currently deployed in Firefox 3.1.

These projects, combined with a similar project for the Safari browser, mean that all the major browsers not named Internet Explorer currently have an aggressive JavaScript JIT rendering engine in play. The question is, will Microsoft follow suit with IE 8?

"I think they will," Eich said. "They have lots of people. They have JavaScript technology already in .NET and I think they can do it. I have colleagues at Microsoft on the Ecma [standards] committee and just the body language and casual conversation makes me think they will. I just don't know when."

Eich said Microsoft may be constrained by IE's longer update cycle and the need to preserve older versions of IE for existing corporate applications. But ultimately, he expects Microsoft will have no alternative but to arm developers and users with competitive JavaScript performance in IE 8.

The larger question, he said, is whether JavaScript will start to blunt the momentum of Flex and Silverlight.

"I would just be interested in hearing from your readers or whoever, if over time the Web is actually creeping in and disrupting those stacks. I think it is. Certainly it is the big consumer play," Eich said. "I don't see a lot of startups saying I am going to use Flash as my UI because I really need to go that extra distance with glitziness, or I really need Silverlight for that extra data-binding magic and language integrated query in C#."

What's your stance on the JavaScript versus Flex/Silverlight debate? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/23/2008 at 1:15 PM4 comments

Managing the Meltdown

It's taken nine months, but the brewing financial calamity sparked by the meltdown of subprime real estate loans is finally getting the full attention it deserves from the media and public. With the Dow losing ground in chunks and long-standing financial institutions teetering on the edge of -- or falling into -- outright insolvency, it's clear that we're facing a major economic crisis.

Of course, our readers have been here before. In 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst and put an abrupt end to the hyper-optimistic chicanery that gave birth to companies like Pets.com and Flooz.com, the developer and IT communities were particularly hard-hit. We, after all, stood at ground zero of the event. Tech spending crashed. Vibrant Web startups shuttered. And major telecom players like Lucent and WorldCom shed thousands of jobs.

Today, it's the financial sector taking the direct hit. Earlier this week, Lehman Brothers officially broke WorldCom's standing record for largest bankruptcy filing ever. The expanding list of failed or bailed-out businesses seems to be growing by the day.

One thing is clear: Software developers -- even those working outside of the financial services realm -- won't be spared the pain in this down turn. The question is, what can dev managers do about it?

Tom Berquist, executive vice president and chief financial officer of database vendor Ingres, said it may soon be time for dev managers to hunker down. As a former equity analyst at Citigroup and a managing director at Goldman Sachs, Berquist had a front-row seat for the 2000 dot-bomb implosion. He said the software spending lessons learned then could help dev managers cope now.

"The willingness to go to longer payback projects, where typically software development is focused, tends to get pushed to the short-term," Berquist said, urging managers to look to projects that can offer short-term, 60- to 90-day return on investment.

He said dev managers should review large-scale development proposals and prepare to shift focus to less ambitious work. A downturn, he said, is a good time to focus on long-delayed software upgrades and refinements, as well as to focus on tactical projects that can help drive specific business processes. He also said the slowdown offers an opportunity to focus on skills training.

The hard part, Berquist said, is knowing how all this will play out.

"I think it's just too early. The difference with this meltdown versus the 2001 time period is the 2001 [downturn] was exacerbated by 9/11. It started in 2000 and rolled off. It sort of happened over a three-year timeframe," said Berquist, who noted that the current downturn has a dangerous look to it. "We've lost a whole bunch of firms from this, and we could lose a whole bunch of other firms. As long as we have this situation, I would say it's tough for decision makers."

How is your development organization responding to the rough economic news, and what did you do to weather the last tech downturn? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/18/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments

Google Chrome: Firefox Killer?

It's hardly surprising that Google's new Chrome browser would shake up the browser market and incite all sorts of hand-wringing and speculation about the impact Chrome might have on Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser. After all, Google's browser enjoys a level of immediate brand awareness and mindshare that the Mozilla Foundation, despite four years of hard labor on Firefox, must truly envy.

The funny thing is, Google's Chrome browser, at least in the short-term, is likely to impact IE the least of all the browser alternatives on the market. Peter O'Kelly, principal analyst for O'Kelly Consulting, said large swaths of Microsoft's market share, especially within organizations, are protected by the need for the browser to be compatible with existing business apps. And many of those were tuned specifically for IE.

"I think Chrome is going to cause bigger problems for others that are competitive with Microsoft than for Microsoft itself," O'Kelly said. "If I have a Mozilla or Opera tattoo, I'm pretty freaked out about this."

O'Kelly has a point. Google has long been Mozilla's largest contributor. In 2006, according to a New York Times article, 85 percent of Mozilla's $66 million in reported revenue came from Google. The cash is part of a search licensing deal that Google and Mozilla last month extended to run through 2011.

The way O'Kelly sees it, Google's decision to rush its browser into the wild ahead of IE 8 shows that the company isn't completely satisfied with what Mozilla has delivered.

"The biggest thing here is they are now putting their own vehicle for application deployment and user experience in the market," O'Kelly said. "They are taking direct control. It's a big grab, no question."

Certainly, Firefox and Chrome diverge in many key ways beyond the user interface. Firefox, for instance, employs the Gecko HTML renderer and SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine, while Chrome uses WebKit and the new V8 just-in-time JavaScript virtual machine. Still, both place a high priority on Web standards that should at least ensure consistent output and interoperability.

In fact, it's that shared vision that may ultimately damage Firefox, Opera and Apple Safari.

"I think there's a scenario for Google where if Chrome is successful it can actually help Microsoft by consolidating Firefox and Opera users," O'Kelly said. "That would be bad for Apple. That would be bad for Mozilla.org. That would be bad for Opera. But it is not a foregone conclusion for me that it would be bad for Microsoft."

What are your plans for Google Chrome? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/16/2008 at 1:15 PM2 comments

VSLive! NY: That's a Wrap

RDN editors Jeffrey Schwartz and Kathleen Richards were in New York City for the VSLive! New York conference this week and came away impressed with the amount of activity and forward-looking presentations at the 15-year-old confab.

In fact, VSLive! seemed to officially kick off the run-up to Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC), slated for the last week of October. For instance, VSLive! featured a number of presentations germane to Microsoft's Oslo software modeling and enterprise repository project. Oslo is widely expected to play center stage at PDC next month. You can read more about Oslo and Microsoft's modeling efforts here.

Brian Randell, a senior consultant at MCW Technologies and panelist at VSLive!, said Microsoft seeks to broaden programming to a much wider audience with Oslo. "The idea behind this is they want to make building complex systems easier, and there the big word is modeling," Randell said.

Rockford Lhotka, principal technology evangelist at Magenic Technologies, warns developers not to expect too much too soon. "It's important to realize that this whole Oslo initiative is an umbrella term that's talking essentially about a 10-year vision."

Another highlight of VSLive! was Microsoft's aggressive push in the area of Software plus Services (S+S) and cloud computing. As Kathleen reported yesterday, Microsoft is pulling together a robust story around the S+S concept even as it forges a continuum between hosted apps, custom line of business apps and Web services.

Also highlighted at VSLive! were a few things Microsoft is unlikely to showcase at PDC. Among them, the large uptake among attending .NET developers of the new Google Chrome browser. By all accounts, Chrome looks like a very credible competitor to Internet Explorer 8. And its innovative use of JavaScript and tight links to Google Gears (which is embedded) could make it a formidable platform player down the road.

Perhaps Paul Cosgrave's show-opening keynote set the tone. As commissioner of New York City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), Cosgrave said he has seen growing activity around both Microsoft .NET- and open source-based solutions. Microsoft's platform efforts are broader and more ambitious than ever, yet the choices in front of dev managers seem to be multiplying rather than narrowing.

What do you think of Microsoft's broad efforts to drive its S+S strategy and what must it do to fend off Google's latest offensive? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/11/2008 at 1:15 PM0 comments

.NET Developers Give Chrome a Peek

As some of you may know, the VSLive! New York conference is taking place this week in Manhattan. This long-running confab has been helping Visual Studio programmers and .NET development managers grapple with technical challenges for years. RDN Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz is at the event and offers his insight:

While Microsoft has had little to say about Google jumping into the browser market, .NET developers certainly have shown interest.

During a keynote session at the VSLive! New York show today, half of those attending the session said they have downloaded Chrome. Moreover, a quarter of those said they're still using it. Granted, that's not a scientific survey, but it bears noting that those attending VSLive! represent an audience with a vested interest in Windows and the .NET Framework.

"I have to admit, I went in thinking it wasn't going to be very good," said blogger and Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley, who is also author of the book Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era. Foley presented the opening keynote session at VSLive!

"It is really fast and it's really innovative," Foley added. "I think the IE team is going to have some competition on its hands."

Could that have an impact on the final release of Internet Explorer 8, which was just released to beta less than two weeks ago and is expected to ship this fall?

Foley said she wouldn't be surprised, though Microsoft has been characteristically quiet regarding Chrome. "The reaction is typical Microsoft," she said, noting later that Microsoft would be served well by rethinking its approach of not responding to competitors.

That's especially questionable in Microsoft's new advertising campaign, which uses comedian Jerry Seinfeld to go after Apple, yet fails to acknowledge its rival.

"You've got to say the A-word [but] Microsoft doesn't want to go there and sometimes that's to their detriment," Foley said.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/09/2008 at 1:15 PM2 comments

Gnoshing on Chrome

When Google surprised folks by releasing its Chrome browser this week, it caused quite a stir. A lot of the excitement, of course, stems from the unique competitive challenge Google poses to Microsoft.

Make no mistake: Mozilla and Apple have done great things with Firefox and Safari -- literally motivating Redmond to reanimate an IE dev team that had been frozen in carbonite since IE 6 shipped. But those organizations aren't a serious threat to unseat Windows as a dominant platform.

Google, on the other hand, is.

Andrew Brust is chief of new technology at twentysix New York and an RDN contributor. He's been keeping a close eye on Chrome, and the way he sees it, the launch is a tale of two browsers. On the one hand, he said, Chrome is simply a new UI layered on top of the same WebKit engine used to power Safari.

"The various novel features are not hugely innovative or difficult to implement. Even the premise of running each tab in an isolated process is not unique to Chrome; Microsoft is doing the same thing in IE 8," Brust wrote in an e-mail interview.

The real innovation, he said, is the V8 JavaScript engine, which applies just-in-time compilation to enable script code to run as true binary executables on the client. And that's where it gets interesting.

"Since Google's bet in wresting industrial control from Microsoft is on the browser becoming a true application platform, these kinds of changes to the way client-side code executes are pretty crucial," Brust explained. "Really, this means that V8 in Chrome competes with the CLR in Silverlight."

Billy Hoffman, manager of the Web security group at HP, agreed. He said Google enjoyed the benefit of hindsight as it shaped Chrome to emerge as an application platform.

"Browsers were written very quickly in the mid-1990s to display content. They weren't intended to be platforms for running applications. The fact that they can do it is a kludge," Hoffman said. "What I think is exciting about Chrome is they put some stuff in place that allows you to design next-gen applications."

And there, said Brust, is the rub.

"If Google wants real momentum for V8, then they need real tools for V8," Brust wrote. "Most corporate developers like and need rich IDEs to get their work done. Microsoft is, currently, second-to-none in this department, and they recognize how much that helps Windows as a platform."

The failure to win the hearts and minds of developers has killed a lot of Microsoft competitors over the years. Netscape, Apple, IBM...the list is as long as it is distinguished. Can Google succeed in wooing developers where so many others have failed?

You tell me. What does Google need to do to make Chrome a compelling and attractive target for your Web development efforts? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/04/2008 at 1:15 PM3 comments

Google Shines Up Chrome

Google today announced the beta release of its open source Chrome Web browser. Based on the WebKit rendering engine and featuring the new V8 JavaScript engine for accelerating the performance of JavaScript code, Chrome could quickly challenge Internet Explorer and Firefox as a leading Web browser.

As RDN Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz reports, industry analysts believe Google's Chrome will have an impact that extends far beyond the browser market. In an interview, IDC Program Director Al Hilwa described Chrome as "Google's platform play."

"It's really becoming the new operating system. And over time this is going to be a significant threat [to Microsoft]," Hilwa said. "Much like virtualization technologies, you are seeing browsers really coming back to being a disruptive force."

So disruptive, in fact, that I expect the Microsoft-Google battle to reach a whole new level over the next year or so. Google has spent a lot of time and effort to build out its platform base from search and ad serving to a robust suite of online applications and developer tools.

So make no mistake: Google Chrome is not just another Mozilla Firefox, a capable Web browser that could eat into IE's market share. Where the Mozilla Foundation's vision seems to have very clear and distinct limits, Google's ambition knows no bounds. Hilwa and other industry watchers fully expect Chrome to emerge as a full-fledged platform, and I'm certain that Microsoft executives are reaching the same conclusions.

What does it mean for developers? Well, I expect a surge of competitive activity as Google and Microsoft both sharpen their toolsets and release updated browser and platform software. I also expect Chrome will quickly achieve prominence, forcing dev shops to support yet another browser target. So the short-term result will be more work for Web developers.

Long-term? Well, you tell me. Can Google do what Netscape and others failed to accomplish, and unseat Windows? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 09/02/2008 at 1:15 PM10 comments

Embarcadero Advances Borland Tools

If you read RDN, you know we've closely followed the fate of the once-legendary Borland Developer Tools Group (DTG). The group that gave us the modern integrated development environment (IDE) and the Delphi programming language had spent a couple of years in limbo as Borland re-invented itself as an application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions vendor.

First the dev tools unit was publicly put on the block, but Borland got no serious takers. Then in November 2006, Borland spun off DTG as a wholly owned subsidiary called CodeGear. The unit continued to advance its products and tools, but was pinched by the increasingly broad managed tools push from Microsoft and the growth in Web-based development.

Which is why the acquisition of CodeGear back in May by Embarcadero Technologies seemed to make a lot of sense. As a purveyor of database tools and solutions, Embarcadero lives at the intersection of development and data -- an area of intense activity these days. Whether it's Microsoft advancing technologies like LINQ and Entity Frameworks, or innovative companies like Altova enabling advanced handling of data and XML, data-driven development is a hot-button issue in the corporate development space.

Now Embarcadero is releasing the first new versions of Delphi 2009 and C++ Builder 2009. Alas, developers will have to wait a bit longer to see a fully integrated tool suite from Embarcadero.

"The new products begin a branding and positioning re-thinking at the combined company, but do not really offer any new integration between the two types of users -- database developer and application developer," explained Al Hilwa, program director in the Application Development Software discipline for research firm IDC. "The included ER/Studio is a form of packaging integration than anything else, but it is a significant value-add for architects."

Embarcadero itself is quick to state that the new products are based on planning and work that were already well underway when Embarcadero purchased CodeGear. That said, Embarcadero did a good job of extending database support and improving drivers, Hilwa said. In fact, the most important new feature is the addition of unicode support, which Embarcadero officials say was a widely requested feature that should greatly ease app localization.

Hilwa praised Embarcadero's work thus far, noting that the company is plying the same developer workflow waters being mapped by Microsoft with its Web designer/developer cross-over products. Embarcadero does have a story to tell in the DBA/developer arena.

Ultimately, Hilwa said the Architect Edition of the new products represent "a shot at the bow of some of the modeling tools vendors." He singled out Sybase PowerDesigner, noting, "Embarcadero does have its tentacles into many Sybase shops because of its DBA tools already. I think it is going to be interesting to watch whether Embarcadero can bolster its architect appeal with more modeling offerings."

It seems like Borland's products might enjoy a bright future under the Embarcadero banner. If you are a developer using Delphi or C++ Builder, what would you hope to see in future versions of the software? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/28/2008 at 1:15 PM11 comments

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