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Microsoft PDC 2000 in brief

Source: The Code Project     Posted by Chris Maunder    Thursday, July 13, 2000 6:00pm    
We get to see what the fuss is all about...

Microsoft PDC 2000 is over and I'd have to say it was a lot of fun. I got to meet some very cool guys including Don Box, Jeff Prosise, George Sheppard, Matt Pietrek, and many, many other amazing people. I also met a bunch of the Microsoft team in and out of the conference and they are a bunch of really fun people. Seeing the enthusiasm these guys have for their 3 years of work is great. There is a real sense of relief that they can now talk about the stuff that has previously been under NDA. Watching these guys and girls present the new technology and seeing the smiles of delight as the crowd breaks out into spontaneous appluase in the middle of talks was just wonderful. A poignant comment I got from one of the attendees during one of these talks was "I just wish the DOJ could be here to see this". I really don't want to sound like a Microsoft zealot, but these guys really love what they do, and are immensely proud of what they have achieved - and so they should be. Kraken! Here's a brief rundown of each day's events.


Microsoft announced further details of Visual Studio 7.0 and their .NET strategy. .NET will encompass a whole variety of new technologies including the much talked about Visual Studio.NET, SOAP, ADO+, ASP+ etc. The entire focus of the new technologies is to make development quicker, simpler, more scalable, and less error prone. Languages such as C++, C#, VB, COBOL etc will all have equal footing in this new paradigm, in that you can develop a class in one language, and inherit this functionality in another. Imagine debugging your code and as you step through the call stack you change from ASP+ to VB to C# - all within the same context. There will be only one IDE for all languages, sharing common tools and objects and allowing mixed language projects like never before. The common language runtime (CLR) will provide an environment in which all languages are treated equally, and by concentrating their best compiler guys into developing this framework, they have achieved extremely high performance levels. Expect a slight dip in performance of, say, C++ running in CLR, but expect major gains in other languages such as ASP. Basically you just use whatever language you want - the performance will be the same. There wil be an extremely fine level of control in security (down to which methods an application can run!) and the application and the runtime environment are able to discuss and negotiate an appropriate level of access. The VS IDE itself will be fully extensible and customisable like never before. There will be huge increase in the interfaces exposed that will allow not only customisation of the IDE's command bars, editor and dialogs, but also of the Help system, debugger and About Box. Visual Studio 7.0 will be beta tested in a similar way to Windows 2000. Microsoft will not say when it will be ready - they want us to tell them when it will be ripe. By working with partners developing real-world apps MS will be able to get feedback and see exactly where and how to improve the product. Though there was a fair amount of dodging of the question, MS estimates that it will be ready sometime early next year.


More on .NET and Visual Studio. Essentially .NET will mean that websites are no longer isolated islands of information used only by clients to pull information down via a browser. Using Web Services, sites will be able to communicate with one another to provide the user with a range of services and information limited only by web developers' ingenuity. This server-to-server, server-to-client communication can be extended to encompass client-to-client communication as is seen in apps such as Napster. For example, a website may offer online shopping. By having the website communicate with, say, a courier's website, you would be able to use a single site to order your items and check delivery schedules and track your order through a single point of call.

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