Early Reports on VS 2010 Bits

When the beta finally appears, that's when things start to get interesting or maybe just more real.

Beta 1 of Visual Studio (VS) 2010 and .NET 4 was released about two weeks ago and Redmond Developer News is getting some feedback from developers who've downloaded the tooling.

Last week, Microsoft released the May 2009 CTP of the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio, which adds support for VS 2010 Beta 1. The caveat: Azure and .NET Services do not yet support .NET 4.

The Azure Tools provide C# and VB templates for cloud-based projects, debugging of the local development fabric and storage, and access via a WindowsLive ID to the Azure Services Developer Portal, which requires a token from Microsoft. The VS extension installs the Azure SDK, which was also updated last week.  

Early reports on the VS 2010 and .NET Framework 4 beta are fairly positive, considering these are still technology previews.

Joseph Megkousoglou, associate, lead software architect at property services firm Knight Frank LLP, lauded the clear separation between managed and native code in the installer. He was also pleased with the performance of VS 2010 on the Windows 7 RC. "I would happily use it as my main IDE (speedwise)," Megkousoglou said in an e-mail.

The TFS installation was another matter, however. "[It was] quite long and involved. As a Subversion guy, I am still trying to see the benefits of all the features TFS offers."

Still, his experience with the new bits has not caused tremendous headaches. "I have already loaded our main projects in VS 2010 and compiled them with .NET 4," the architect explained. "No major problems there. Performance is very similar to .NET 3.5. The main solution I loaded, comprised of nine different projects, is an ASP.NET application, uses LINQ and Enterprise Library components, and contains a total of 120K lines of code. This is one of our main applications that receives a huge amount of visitors every day."

"The biggest problem I have with it is stability," said David Barnhill, a senior consultant with New York-based Lab49. "It has crashed at random times on my machine. I haven't found a pattern to it. But the stability is not bad for a Beta 1 product. I have had much worse experiences."

The much-ballyhooed WPF editor, which makes its first appearance in the VS 2010 beta, is not the showstopper that some developers feared.

"While I think the performance is OK, I am sure it will get better," said Steve Forte, chief strategy officer of Telerik. "I am sure Beta 2 will have a full-fledged performance."

Forte is a fan of the new WPF shell. "The WPF editor will give us a ton of benefits," he said. "You can tell right way when you look at it, it looks different and quite frankly it's easier on the eyes."

Despite the new look and feel, VS 2010 remains familiar and easy to navigate. "It's actually close enough to the development environment of 2008 where you can find your way around, really easily. Things are pretty much in the same places they were before even though there's a new editor," Barnhill said.

"One of the big things they are going to fix is the text in the display is a little blurry now," he continued. "There are some problems that are in WPF's font rendering that they will be fixing in the Beta 2 of the .NET Framework version 4 -- that's something that a lot of people really hate."

This month's Visual Studio Magazine cover story looks at what's in .NET 4 that will make developers more productive day to day. "With 4, I see less new things and more of an extension in terms of beefing up what's there -- the Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Presentation Foundation, Workflow services," said Mark Driver, vice president of research at Gartner Inc., in the VSM article. "I don't see a whole lot of new APIs but rather the evolution of APIs that they introduced in as part of 3.5."

Do you agree with Driver's assessment? How will .NET 4 and VS 2010 make you more productive? Express your views below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 06/02/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


VS 2010 Beta 1 Bits: They're Heeere!

We expected to see Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 in the Tech-Ed timeframe and Microsoft didn't disappoint us.

On Monday, May 18 -- the first business day following the educational conference -- the company made Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 betas available for download to MSDN subscribers.

Tomorrow, May 20, the public betas will be ready for download here.

OK, it might have made more sense to release the betas at Tech-Ed so developer attendees who actually paid to go to the conference could get the first look at the VS 2010 betas and discuss what's in them with Microsoft folks. But that's only my opinion -- maybe deadlines were missed.

Jason Zander, the GM of Visual Studio, gives of walkthrough of some of the new VS 2010 and .NET 4 functionality in his blog here.

Of course, he calls it ".NET Framework 4.0" -- another one of those Microsofties who didn't get the memo about the official numbering of the new framework -- but why sweat the small stuff? I'm an editor and I'm paid to notice those things.

There's no doubt that they work hard in Redmond and the next-gen of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 are here and definitely worth checking out. Learn more about the new tooling here.

Test it out and express your views on what's in VS 2010 Beta 1 below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/19/2009 at 1:15 PM2 comments


City of Angels' Blessings Needed After Vista

Microsoft is hosting its annual North American confab, Tech-Ed 2009, this week. Roughly 7,000 people braved budget constraints and swine flu to attend the conference in Los Angeles, according to Bill Veghte, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Windows business.

As expected, the keynotes, given by Veghte and his team, focused on the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 release candidates; R2 of Windows Server 2008, which is 64-bit only, was made available to attendees yesterday.

The Web platform is a huge focus for Microsoft. The updated Web Platform Installer is designed to promote easier downloads. According to Iain McDonald, general manager of the Windows Server Group, the full ASP.NET stack and .NET runtime will be part of the server core in Windows Server 2008 R2 to decrease the size of the images on front-end Web boxes.

Other announcements on the first day of Tech-Ed included the second beta release of the Geneva identity management platform, as well more news about SQL Server 2008 R2 (formerly "Kilimanjaro") and Office 10. The first CTPs of SQL Server 2008 R2 are expected this fall. An invitation-only technical preview of Office 10 will be made available for a select group in July, according to Veghte.

Microsoft is offering hundreds of sessions at Tech-Ed that discuss .NET 3.5, .NET 4 and related tooling. But where are the Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 betas? After a six-month hiatus since the PDC 2008 previews, developers expect to see more bits.

Activity in the Microsoft blogosphere is increasing, a sign that the beta is in the final stages (we hope). A new series by the ADO.NET team on the coming updates to the Entity Framework and its respective tooling was launched yesterday.

Will Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 reverse the curse (I'm from Boston) for Microsoft? Express your thoughts on Windows 7 development below or contact me directly at [email protected]

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/12/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Reaching for the Cloud?

When it comes to Microsoft's Azure cloud services, it seems developers are either quite immersed in the technical underpinnings of Redmond's next-generation platform or they're ambivalent about it.

Microsoft this week showcased some of its customers' various mindsets on cloud computing at its Enterprise Developer and Solutions Conference in New York. The customers -- which include The New York Times, Merrill Lynch, Raytheon and Netsoft USA -- joined Doug Hauger, general manager of Microsoft's cloud infrastructure services, onstage Tuesday during the event's keynote address. Naturally, given the host was Microsoft, they were enthusiastic about the prospects for cloud computing and Azure. But they were tempered in their assessments by concerns over security, privacy, availability, reliability, compliance and other relevant issues.

Take John Slaby, chief engineer of defense contractor Raytheon, who pointed out that there's a movement in the Department of Defense to develop a global information grid. While cloud computing at some point will be a key solution, security is still an issue.

"You've got to get to the point where the cloud can be secured so it can handle highly classified kinds of events, but I think it is the direction that they are moving," Slaby said.

Others had similar assessments. "You do have to think about those things as you move to the cloud," Hauger said.

Despite those concerns about cloud computing, one key component of the cloud, Software as a Service, is poised to grow 22 percent this year, Gartner said in a report released today. Revenues for applications running on such services will total $9.6 billion, and will top $16 billion by 2013, Gartner said.

"Software as a Service has become a more acceptable deployment alternative in general," said Gartner analyst Sharon Mertz. "It's more often being considered as another sourcing strategy for many companies."

For Microsoft, things with Azure will heat up in the coming months. Hauger said Microsoft is on track to announce pricing at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July and roll out the service at its Professional Developers Conference in November.

Microsoft is taking every opportunity it can to get developers to download the Azure SDK to start building applications.

For those who have tested the Azure SDK, have you done so on your own time, or is your company encouraging you to put it through the rigors for potential deployment? Express yourself below or at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/07/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Windows 7 Downloads and Downsizing in Redmond

Even as Microsoft unleashes the Windows 7 release candidate for public download today, sadly some employees are facing layoffs. Most of us are familiar with the irony that hard work doesn't always prevent the pink slip, although it's unclear which product groups in Redmond will suffer staff reductions. 

The Windows 7 RC was posted on MSDN and TechNet for subscribers last week. Microsoft recommends that Windows 7 beta users register for a new product key and download the ISO image, rather than upgrade to the RC. Like the beta, the RC is only available in the Windows 7 Ultimate edition. It will expire June 1, 2010 and bi-hourly shutdowns will start on March 10, 2010, according to Microsoft. Download the Windows 7 RC here.

What does Windows 7 mean for developers? Like previous versions of Windows, Windows 7 is built using native C, C++ and COM APIs. The Windows 7 SDK consists of mainly native APIs and code samples.

Managed code developers again have their work cut out for them if they want to access application-level functionality. Despite the Foundation Libraries -- WPF, WCF, WF, CardSpace -- in .NET 3.0 (formerly WinFX) that shipped as the default framework with Vista, the native Win APIs and managed interoperability story from Microsoft remains in the early stages.

Microsoft is updating the managed wrappers in the Windows Vista Bridge for the native Windows 7 APIs and renaming it the Windows API Code Pack for the .NET Library, according to a post by Yochay Kiriaty, tech evangelist on the Developer and Platform Evangelism Team. The code pack isn't available yet, but you can find links to some .NET interop libraries (not officially supported by Microsoft) in the Windows 7 for Developers blog here.

The widely anticipated Windows Touch functionality in Windows 7 will be fully supported in Windows Presentation Foundation 4, Kiriaty wrote. In the interim, developers can use the limited multi-touch support in WPF 3.5, which is available in .NET 3.5 SP1.  

When can developers expect to develop more easily in managed code for Windows and Office apps? Express your thoughts below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/05/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Framing the (.NET) Question

With Beta 1 of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 expected around Tech-Ed, developers will soon have new bits and a first look at the updated CLR.

The official branding of the next framework is 4, not 4.0 (just like Silverlight is 2 and 3). Many people in Redmond apparently didn't get the memo on the official branding as most call it ".NET 4.0." Version number, official branding, consistency, word choice...it's the stuff that editors' nightmares and jobs are made of.

Last week, I asked RDN Express readers: After four to five years, should Microsoft have made more changes to the core? Several developers "reframed" the question, noting that Microsoft was making "additions" to the framework -- or at least should be making "additions" to the framework -- rather than "changes." Jason wrote:

"Should Microsoft keep changing the core? I think not! Add to it? Sure, if necessary, but if the 'CORE' was a module, and improvements were 'additional' modules, then developers could code to the core -- write their own 'wrappers' and 'utilities' around it without fear of instant antiquation. Additionally, software that 'didn't have the correct support modules' could easily identify to the net admins exactly what 'modules' were needed and missing.

"I can compile 20-year-old GREP utilities in Unix and they run great while still using all sorts of new things in Linux. Why can't Microsoft, a 'leader in technology,' make a solid foundation that we can build on versus writing software we know won't run any longer when they decide it be so?"

This time around, developers won't be forced to migrate their apps to the new runtime, according to Microsoft. Last week, I explained that you can run different versions of the CLR in the same app:

"A new hosting model will allow developers to run apps in process side-by-side on either .NET 2.0 or .NET 4.0. The host will choose which version of the CLR to run components of the app in."

Joshua Goodman, Microsoft's group program manager of the Common Language Runtime, weighed in to clarify how this model will actually work:  

"Actually, in most cases, the component (especially COM components) will choose which runtime they run against, meaning they get to run against runtimes they were built and tested against. (We've evolved this story a little bit since PDC, and haven't publicly described the final model yet.) This is a big improvement to compatibility, compared to our previous model, where we often had to roll applications forward to a new runtime. There are still a few cases in which add-ins will be rolled forward to 4.0, but we've also worked very hard to make 4.0 as compatible as possible with 2.0, so even when that does happen, things should work fine.

"That said, we'd love it if you and Redmond Developer News readers would try out our Beta 1, which will be released soon, and see if you can find compatibility issues. If you do find them (no one is perfect) we want to hear about them so we can fix them before we ship."

Reader Mark wasn't impressed with the side-by-side CLR scenario. In response to the question of whether Microsoft should have made more changes to the core, he answered:

"Yeah -- like what people have always wanted from Windows: something lighter, streamlined. And like Windows, we aren't going to see it. It can't be from Redmond unless it has at least two ways of doing everything."

One of the pain points that the side-by-side scenario should ease is Office interoperability. Developers can write .NET 4 add-ins that run against the .NET 4 CLR that get loaded into existing Office apps that run against the .NET 2.0 runtime.

Check it out in Beta 1 and let Microsoft know what you think.

What are you most excited about in .NET 4? The June issue of Visual Studio Magazine will feature a .NET 4 preview and we want to make sure that we have your questions answered. Express your thoughts on the latest framework below or contact me directly at [email protected]

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 04/28/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Two Runtimes Too Many?

With .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5, Microsoft stacked its new libraries and tooling on the .NET 2.0 Base Class Libraries (BCL) and Common Language Runtime (CLR) that shipped with Visual Studio 2005, in what the company called a "layer cake" model.

This time around, the CLR is getting a major upgrade, jumping from .NET 2.0 to .NET 4.0. The .NET 4.0 Framework is expected in beta next month along with VS 2010 and will likely have a go-live license before the end of the year, according to several sources. Microsoft has been strangely quiet on the new framework since the Professional Developers Conference community technology previews (CTPs) in October.

What's new in the core that will make development better across the framework? Several enhancements have been baked into the BCL including Code Contracts and Parallel Extensions.

BCL improvements expected in the .NET 4.0 beta include variance annotations (co-variance and contra-variance) and tuples for language interoperability. For more on what's new in the BCL, check out the BCL Team Blog.

How will side-by-side installations work? Microsoft's Joshua Goodman served up a technical session entitled "Microsoft .NET Framework: CLR Futures" at PDC, where he characterized .NET 4.0 as the biggest release since 2005. The reason for the CLR upgrade is that Microsoft has finally solved some of the compatibility issues, according to Goodman, group program manager for the CLR team.

In the 4.0 framework, a new hosting model will allow developers to run apps in process side-by-side on either .NET 2.0 or .NET 4.0. The host will chose which version of the CLR to run components of the app in. If this works -- cool. But it sounds like there may be some scary compatibility issues on the horizon.

What's in .NET 4.0 that is going to be most useful to you as a developer? Have you checked out the framework CTPs? After four to five years, should Microsoft have made more changes to the core? Express your thoughts below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 04/23/2009 at 1:15 PM11 comments


Interfacing with the 10-10-10 Rule

Suzy Welch, the better half of business legend Jack Welch, has taken to the airways this week to promote her new book, 10-10-10. The premise here is better decision-making by asking yourself how a choice will affect you in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.

For developers, technology choices are more often than not influenced by executive types tasked with improving or maintaining the bottom line. Their only criteria, it seems, is: How can we conserve cash and make do with what we have now? In the current climate, this mode of holding steady for the next 10 months is probably prudent. But the bigger picture may require some tough decisions about user experience and software delivery in the next few years.

Last week, RDN Express asked how line-of-business developers pick the right technology and tooling for their Windows client and RIA applications. One longtime developer e-mailed to express his frustration with WinForms and bewilderment at how WPF, which he has also used, could possibly make him more productive:

"I just don't understand how I could program better and faster with less code using WPF! No, I don't program pictures on spinning cubes or other toy applications. I program measure and control applications used in the lab, mostly using old-fashioned RS232 instruments..."

Microsoft contends that WPF isn't replacing WinForms; it's all about choice.

Rockford Lhotka, Magenic's principal technology evangelist who's leading a session entitled "Sharing Code between Your Microsoft .NET Framework Applications and Microsoft Silverlight" at Tech-Ed next month, holds a different view.

"It is very clear that the future of Windows UI development is WPF," Lhotka said. "That is where Microsoft is putting all of their energy -- and they are putting even more energy into Silverlight."

The tooling needs to catch up, asserted Lhotka, who's hoping that Visual Studio 2010 will enable more developers to unlock the potential of WPF and Silverlight technologies.

Eric from Scranton expressed similar disappointment with the current tooling:

"The largest problem I've had with WPF, and in particular Silverlight, has been the lack of a true IDE. Years ago, I decided to pick up Flash, and in one hour I was making goofy Flash animations. They weren't anything relevant to really publish to the Web, but I was able to visually transform elements on the screen and add music with very little effort.

"XAML seems to have a steep learning curve, and every time I have to switch between Studio '08 and Blend 2, I'm reminded of how lucky we have been in the past to have Studio, and how rich of an environment it is...but Microsoft fell short so far with Blend, and certainly knows better."

The longtime developer of measure and control apps just wants a better UI framework:

"Call it WPF 5 if you want, I don't care about the name. It just should be a neater, better and more powerful framework than WinForms 2."

On his wish list?

"I would like to see an improved CLR (->DLR?) so that the delegate-event mess can be cleaned up (= disappear). Then dynamic languages with 'first-class functions' are easily implemented in the .NET. Then a WinForms replacement could be written with better inheritance mechanism and first class functions and thus easier to understand and modify."

Things may get better for .NET developers as WPF and Silverlight advance. WPF will be a superset of Silverlight, according to Microsoft. "If they accomplish that, it will mean that if I write XAML for Silverlight, my UI code will just automatically work in WPF as well," Lhotka said. "You are really looking at a spectrum where if I build my UI for Silverlight, it would run on a phone (Silverlight for Mobile), or it would run on a browser or it would run in a limited environment on Windows, and that might cover a lot of cases."

But Lhotka said there are other apps where the out-of-the-browser support for Silverlight (the limited amount of the disk space on client, for example) is not sufficient and WPF may be the better choice.

Are your technology choices driven by what's happening now, the next 10 months, or the next few years? Express your views on Windows client and RIA apps. What technologies are you investing in for the future and why? Comment below or contact me at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 04/16/2009 at 1:15 PM10 comments


Ask Microsoft About Visual Studio 10

The first beta of Visual Studio 2010 is expected in mid-May, in tandem with Microsoft's annual Tech-Ed North America conference. That's if things go according to plan.

Microsoft won't confirm the dates, but the word on the street is that the annual education confab is the target for the beta release.

Brian Harry, the Microsoft Technical Fellow who runs the Team Foundation Server (TFS) product unit, offered a high-level overview of what's new in Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2010 in a blog post last week. Harry indicated that the beta is getting close:

"I'm quite certain I'm not allowed to give out dates right now but I'll just say that the features have been done for a while now and we're just testing and refining the quality. After that comes the release process. All of this takes a while but sitting on the inside it feels like we're just about there."

Harry is starting a blog series on VSTS 2010. In his kick-off to the series, he offered a concise list of new features in VSTS 2010 with links to Microsoft blogs that cover architecture, development and database, Lab Management (virtualization), test, in addition to his own blog, which will focus on TFS. The new TFS will support 64-bit on all tiers, according to Harry.

Anxious to learn more about Visual Studio 2010? Here's your chance to ask Microsoft about the next version of its flagship IDE. Send us your questions about Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0, and we'll work to put them in front of Microsoft product managers and decision makers as part of an ongoing series of interviews to be published at VisualStudioMagazine.com and in print issues of Visual Studio Magazine.

If possible, please provide your name, location (city, state), title and company. If you don't wish to be specifically identified in our coverage, let us know and we can omit your information as requested.

We look forward to getting your questions in front of Microsoft! Express your thoughts on the upcoming IDE below or send an e-mail to Kathleen Richards, executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine, at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 04/14/2009 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Avalon Take 2

The initial promise of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) got somewhat muddled in the execution. With WPF 3.0 (aka Avalon), many developers were unclear on what to do with the Windows client technology, and the majority didn't have the skills (manual coding and hardcore XAML) or tools (in progress Visual Designer) to use it. With WPF 4.0 and Visual Studio (VS) 2010 expected in beta next month, developers can look forward to drastic improvements.

Microsoft is bringing the drag-and-drop databinding that appeared in VS 2005 for Windows Forms to WPF in VS 2010. The WPF tooling will support entities from the new ADO.NET Entity Data Model in VS 2008 SP1 as one of the options in the data sources window, along with DataSets and Web services. Now you can wire the controls in your application to your database and other data sources in a reasonable amount of time -- RAD, anyone? Milind Lele, a program manager on the Visual Studio Pro Tools team, explains more about this functionality on channel 9 and in his blog.

For Microsoft, the stakes have never been higher. WPF 4.0 is the new face of VS 2010. As most developers know by now, Microsoft has rebuilt the VS 2010 UI shell on its emergent technology. Several developers commented on the new look and their expectations in the "IDE Evolution" cover story in this month's Visual Studio Magazine.
 
As Mary Jo Foley explained in her blog back in 2006, the codename for the original WPF, "Avalon," is an area in medieval England known for the hardest "cider." This time around, developers can utter a collective sigh of relief as the VS 2010 WPF Designer tooling (aka "Cider") ostensibly eliminates some of the headaches that the earlier versions caused.

"I think Visual Studio 2010 is going to bring a much better way of doing databinding in the editor, better layout in the editor, better property editing in the editor," said Infragistics Director of Product Management Jason Beres in an interview last month. Beres expects the databinding improvements to drive WPF adoption.
 
"If you look at VS 2008 as version 1 for WPF development, this is version 2, where they have gotten a lot of feedback and they are going to implement it," he said.

This week, Infragistics is releasing a milestone upgrade to its NetAdvantage for .NET 2009 Volume 1. The suite provides controls and tooling for WPF, WinForms, ASP.NET and, in June, Silverlight 3 line-of-business controls. Infragistics is also focused on parity between the tooling for various platforms -- the new xamDataGrid, for example, is similar for both WinForms and WPF.

"That is sort of where we are going," said Anthony Lombardo, Infragistics' lead technology evangelist, earlier this week. "We're also bringing more Excel-like functionality into the grid controls," he said, pointing to areas such as the filter UIs.  

Even so, with so many platforms to choose from for line-of-business apps, how can developers pick the right tooling for their Windows client and RIA applications? Silverlight 3 will run outside of the browser. And some developers think that WPF can be used for Web apps because it runs inside of the browser, according to Lombardo.

"You look at Silverlight running outside of the browser -- is that a rich client app? It's not really," he said. "There's still parts of the framework that you cannot do even running outside of the browser. You are going to have a sandbox. It is going to be difficult to do certain things that you can do with WPF easily. There are going to be reasons to choose one platform over another."

With WPF 4.0, Silverlight 3, ASP.NET 4.0 and VS 2010 incoming, how do you weigh the tradeoffs and make the best technology decisions for your apps? Express your tips, hard-won experience or frustrations on the Web below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 04/07/2009 at 1:15 PM1 comments


.NET Does the Wave

We've all done the wave at rock concerts or sporting events. I put my hands in the air more than once at the old Yankee Stadium on a steamy day last June. The temperature was 95 degrees and climbing, and like the TSA at the airport, the ticket-takers were confiscating bottles of sunscreen.

Left-hander Andy Pettitte was pitching and a bit wobbly. He gave up several home runs, including a grand slam. The Yankees had the lead by the time Mariano Rivera strode across the field to the pitcher's mound to the tune of "Enter Sandman." His heavy-metal entrance, even to a Red Sox fan, created anticipation. The Sandman gave up a home run to the first batter.

The Yankees still won. Later that summer, they changed the sunscreen policy; I'm guessing people got burned.

Some of the folks in Redmond have had their arms in the air for a while now, talking about better user experiences, more open platforms and interoperability. But the open standards and interoperability wave hasn't quite made its way around all of the Redmond campus, although we've all seen Ballmer gesticulating, especially when he talks to large groups of developers.

The interoperability charge has been led by DevDiv, most notably the product teams who work for Scott Guthrie. Recently, several projects spearheaded by the Microsoft Interoperability team have also shown promise: Eclipse Tools for Silverlight, Federated Identity and the cross-platform SDKs (Java, Ruby) for Azure.

This week, Microsoft is releasing Milestone 5 for .NET Services, the APIs and tools for the Internet service bus, access control and workflow in the Azure Services Platform. M5 offers better support for REST, ATOM, SOAP and HTTP, according to Microsoft's Steven Martin, who blogged about the announcement.

New LogoEven the .NET logo is getting a new look that some people say is meant to reflect the framework's evolution to support newer Microsoft technologies like Silverlight. It's a blue wave "N" -- no more four-color shadowing .NET.

The new branding, which surfaced last fall in the PDC timeframe, is meant to align the .NET brand with the Silverlight and Surface logos, according to a post written by Scott Barnes, a product manager on the Rich Client Platform team:

"We needed a logo that was in sync with the key values that we want .NET to stand for: consistency, robustness and great user experiences. We also wanted a logo that conformed to the design principles that are driving Microsoft's brand identity evolution and is reflected in newer brands such as Silverlight, Surface and more. Finally, we needed a logo that is more strongly aligned with the portfolio of brands that .NET is most strongly aligned with: Silverlight, Visual Studio and the AppPlat server products."

Vijay Rajagopalan, a principal architect on the Microsoft Interoperability team who is heading several technical interop bridge projects, said that the Eclipse Tools for Silverlight (or Eclipse4SL) has become one of the most popular plug-ins on Eclipse Plugin Central. Eclipse4SL, which supports Windows and Mac, targets collaborative development projects (Visual Studio exports) as well as pure Eclipse environments.

"The debugging experience is quite limited" compared to the Visual Studio experience, according to Rajagopalan. "But that is expected to evolve by this summer." Read more about the new Eclipse4SL tooling here.

Rajagopalan said Microsoft has worked on about 17 open developer platforms, particularly in areas like Azure, open document formats and identity. "We are committed to these projects and we continue to listen to feedback," he said. 

Express your thoughts on open standards, open platforms and the new blue wave. Is Microsoft making headway in bridging Silverlight and Java Web services? Comment below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 03/31/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Architecting Oslo

From all accounts, Microsoft has put a lot of work into the Architecture Edition of Visual Studio (VS) 2010 Team System. Application modeling is an integral part of the application lifecycle with new features such Sequence Diagram Reverse Engineering and the Architect Explorer for analyzing the relationships between modeling artifacts. The upcoming release also adds support for five UML diagrams, beyond the UML support in Visio.

With VS 2010 Beta 1 around the corner -- most estimates put Beta 1 in the Tech-Ed timeframe -- how does "Oslo," the new model-driven development platform previewed at the Professional Developers Conference, fit with the app modeling tools in VS 2010 Architecture Edition and the existing DSL Toolkit?

Earlier this month, Microsoft refreshed its January "Oslo" community technology preview, fixing some DLLs. The Oslo SDK January 2009 CTP offered bug fixes and added more features related to the "M" language (MGraph, MSchema and MGrammar). At MIX last week, the Oslo team released the source code to MUrl, an M-based textual DSL and runtime for HTTP services.

In a February RDN Express blog, "M Is for Re-Modeling," I asked about the problems Oslo is trying to solve. I was happy to hear from Kris Horrocks, Microsoft's senior product manager for the developer platform, who offered insight into the company's view of model-driven development and how Oslo fits into that vision.

RDN: What's new in the January CTP?
Horrocks: We have taken a lot of time since PDC to really stabilize this preview and then we've done a fair number of modifications and updates to the "M" programming language based on the community review we've had so far. There is actually a list of all the specific language constructs that are now supported and so forth. The other part that is updated in the CTP is within our repository. There's a greater number of out of the box models already in the repository compared to what was there at PDC.

Is "M" considered one language or multiple languages?
We're in the process of transitioning to talk about it as one language. Some of the feedback that we've gotten from PDC was that trying to talk about it as three different languages was unnecessarily complex. So at PDC we were referring to MGraph, MGrammar and MSchema and what we have chosen to do moving forward is to really just refer to those as three capabilities of the "M" language. And we found the technical reality is...that those three capabilities are merging to all be available through a common language.

Have you made any other changes since PDC?
It is mostly stability, language enhancements and additional content in a repository. There are also improvements in our Quadrant development tool, as well. ("Quadrant" was included in the VPC distributed to PDC attendees. However, Microsoft has not released "Quadrant" in any of the CTPs available for download on MSDN.)

How is Quadrant different than the graphical DSL tools that are in Visual Studio?
It is technically a separate shell. We are working in close concert with our Visual Studio team...to understand what the experience needs to be for our customers who are doing some modeling in the DSL Toolkit and some in Oslo.

Is Oslo expected to be part of VS 2010?
Yeah. I think a great way to think about it is -- are you familiar with the project we used to refer to as WinFx? So there was a while when we were referring to WinFx as a codename that basically became Windows Communication Foundation, Workflow Foundation and Presentation Foundation. And then as we got closer to actually shipping, we made some decisions about which part of our existing developer platform to release those in and in that case, it was the .NET Framework.

We fully expect the Olso capabilities to undergo a similar process where today we refer to these three capabilities that are provided by the repository -- the repository, the language, the quadrant -- as Oslo, but as we get closer to shipping our customers should expect that these capabilities will flow into their existing development platform and tools.

And that timeframe is the VS 2010 timeframe?
Well, it depends. Right now we are still getting feedback. One of the things with Oslo that we are trying to do is trying to be very early with our engagement with the community. We want to make sure that we get all the feedback that we possibly can about all of these components. And then based on their feedback, we'll chose the right ship vehicle...

Read the rest of the Q&A here. Are you testing "Oslo"? What are your thoughts on Microsoft's approach to domain modeling and application development? Comment below or drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 03/24/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


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