Mink Machine

Report from Microsoft Live 2007

Just as last year, Microsoft arranged a spring presentation of their upcoming stuff for developers.

The speakers were Johan Lindfors and Robert Folkesson from Microsoft, as well as Patrik Löwendahl and Marcus Olsson from Cornerstone.

The topics covered most of the Microsoft range for developers, which is quite a lot. There was talk about IIS7 and the difference between Classic and Integrated mode, generation handling of the garbage collector, Longhorn server, XNA, Sharepoint Designer (which basically is Expression Web with a bit of Sharepoint stuff thrown in), Enterprise library, Team Foundation Server and of course .NET 3.0 with WPF/WCF/WWF.

WPF is nice but I’m more eager to see what people can do with WPF/E, since it doesn’t require clients to have .NET 3.0 installed. It’s simply distributed as a small plugin for your browser, available for both Windows and Macintosh. WPF/E supports a subset of XAML and can be controlled using Javascript, so I believe it has a fair chance to survive out there with Flash and the other beasts.

This will provide access to the DOM from C#. God help us.

The upcoming version is called “WPF/E.next”. Who comes up with all these weird names? I bet it’s the same guy who decided to call it “.NET 3.0“. Anyway, this version will feature a “HTML bridge” which translates .NET datatypes to/from JavaScript. This will provide access to the DOM from C#. God help us.

Look for “WPF/E V1” during the summer (without the HTML bridge) and “WPF/E V1 Refresh” early 2008.

The turn of the year will also see the release of the full Expression Studio, which Microsoft actually seems to believe that people will use. Want to try it? Expression Blend RC version is now available.

There was also a glimpse into the minds of the developers regarding .NET Fx 3.5. The “red” environment contains .NET Framework 2.0 and WPF/WCF/WWF – in essence only bug fixes. The “green” version is somewhat different, with new namespaces and assemblies such as the entity framework.

Orcas was discussed, but not much there that I had not already mentioned in Visual Studio Orcas is getting closer. I think that C# 3.0 with LINQ will be a welcome addition to the developer toolbox, where inline query expressions are translated to “extension methods” by the compiler involving lambda expressions and anonymous types.

Johan Lindfors and Patrik Löwendahl Johan Lindfors and Patrik Löwendahl at Microsoft Live 2007.

Robert Folkesson spoke about ASP.NET AJAX, formerly known as Atlas, and showed a few things you can do with the Control Toolkit. Unfortunately these kinds of presentations sadly promotes the evil of “drag and drop” cowboy programming. Also, I grow weary of hearing the word “DHTML” mentioned on the same row as “web standards”. It’s 2007, people! Strangely and fortunately I only heard “web 2.0” uttered once.

I feel that this kind of technical preview demonstrations can be quite interesting, even though Microsoft are masters in the fine art of fooling the users into believing that their software will be here “really soon now”. For instance, WPF appeared to be in the same state today as it was on last year’s Microsoft Live.

As always, don’t sit up waiting for the next best thing. Do something that matters using your existing toolbox.

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