RCAs Need More Diversity

A reader offers suggestions for how to broaden the selection of winners in VSM's annual Buyers Guide Survey.

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RCAs Need More Diverse Winners
First, I wanted to say thank you for your annual compilation of products relevant to the .NET space. I think it's handy to have such a concise compendium of products available for .NET development, and this listing helps you survey an impressive variety of products at a glance.

I also think the Readers Choice Awards are a good idea, and it's nice to see that you continue to honor companies that provide the tools so many of us use in our day-to-day jobs. At the same time, I must say it's a little disappointing to see the same handful of companies win every year in nearly every category. I don't have anything against ComponentOne or Infragistics, but I think they are represented too heavily in your surveys. This isn't a recent occurrence, of course, but something that has been occurring for several years.

Obviously, you can't blame the companies for winning. Nor can you blame the readers, because you ask them to choose the best products from a list you compile. But I think it would be better for everyone if you adjusted the categories to better represent the selection of tools available. For instance, you might limit some categories to a certain size or specific sales category. Or, you might limit companies to being listed in only so many categories. It's not my intention to exclude anyone. Just the opposite: There are a lot of good, deserving companies that get overlooked with the current system.

Ed Overman
Pittsburgh, PA

Clarifying InfoCard's Specifics
I'd like to thank Patrick Meader for writing up my presentation at VSLive! Orlando on InfoCard, since renamed to Windows CardSpace [Editor's Note, "InfoCard: It's Not Just Passport 2.0," VSM July 2006]. I would like to make a couple clarifications, however.

First, Project Higgins and Windows CardSpace aren't competing approaches to identity management—they are complementary. From the Project Higgins site: "There was some controversy over the relationship between Higgins and Microsoft's Infocards. The real story is that Higgins and Microsoft's InfoCards are complementary."

Also, Patrick's statement that "InfoCard doesn't replace existing authentication schemes with its own proprietary system, but leverages existing identification technologies" isn't entirely true. Windows CardSpace does, in fact, aim to replace manually typed username and password authentication mechanisms with cryptographically strong tokens containing a user's identity claims. However, the latter part of this statement is true: Windows CardSpace does indeed integrate with some existing authentication technologies such as x509 certificates stored on the user's machine, or on Smartcards, Kerberos Tokens, and so on. Because Windows CardSpace communicates across the wire entirely using standard protocols (WS-*), it ensures that identity providers and relying parties built on any other platform or technology can integrate smoothly with Windows CardSpace. This will help ensure that a user remains in control of their personal identity information and is greatly protected from phishing attacks. It will also help ensure that identity federation can flourish.

Rich Turner
Product Manager, Indigo, Microsoft

VSM accidentally omitted MadCap's Flare from the Help Authoring category in its special 2006 Buyers Guide issue. VSM regrets the error. Learn more about this and other products from MadCap by visiting its Web site at http://madcapsoftware.com.

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