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Brian Holmgård Kristensen

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Eating your own software, Keynote from TechEd Developers 2007



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 Tuesday, 06 November 2007

This was actually not the headline from the keynote by S. Somasegar, the Microsoft Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division, who was the keynote-speaker at this years TechEd Developers 2007 conference in Barcelona. The headline however is from a funny part of the keynote where S. Somasegar plays a video from Microsoft on how they build Visual Studio 2008.

With a totally packed Auditorium of expectant developers S. Somasegar started out his keynote speech by telling a true story of an experience he had here in Barcelona after arriving. It took place in a restaurant called “Moo Restaurant” where he had had the absolute best dinner experience in a longer time. He told us that it was a combination of two things; 1) that the chef did a fantastic job cooking the dinner, and 2) that the ambience and the way the food was served, really met his expectations and then some. In software perspective he did the analogy that being a fantastic developer is not enough when failing to have an understanding of the differentiated user experiences and requirements that users have. Otherwise the software won’t survive in the longer run.

S. Somasegar also shared some statistics with us; that over the last two years, there have been over one million professional developers using Visual Studio 2005 where 25 percent of these use Team System in development, that there have been over 17 million downloads on the Visual Studio Express product and last that 80 percent of all questions asked on the MSDN forum have been answered.

Offering a free license to a feature-limited Visual Studio IDE, the Express editions, is available to make it easy for anyone to getting started on learning how to develop applications. I really like the idea of having these free feature-limited editions of Visual Studio and SQL Server as this helps getting as many people as possible joining the community. Another effort that his division has done is to increase/strengthen the community by making the MSDN much better. On the forums they have done a lot to improve response time on questions. Also with the Microsoft Valuable Professional (MVP) Program it can really pay off being an active community member. I hope to find myself struggling for that title someday – but as for this moment I have other things to focus on. Upcoming improvements to MSDN is the possibility to share code, which makes it easy for developers to share work with the rest of the world, and also a new MSDN Wiki lets community members add more content to the documentations. These new things will help transition MSDN from a one-way platform to a community-based platform. Really great news from my point of view.

S. Somasegar went on speaking some about the Mission of his division, which he stated being to: Make every software project successful with Microsoft tools & platforms.

He wants to do this by constantly deliver platform technologies and tools that support different developers with different experiences for different projects. LINQ is one of the technologies to accommodate that. LINQ makes it easier for developers to execute data queries without having to know anything about e.g. SQL, XPath and/or XSLT. The developer simply just makes the queries in his own .NET language e.g. C# or VB.NET. A lot of sessions on this years TechEd will be on LINQ with some I will be attending.

S. Somasegar told us that Microsoft Patterns & Practices have just released (or are about to release) some blueprints for Software plus Services solutions (S+S), which should make it very easy to take an application and make it serviceable. The releases will contain ready to use building blocks and plug-ins for Visual Studio. Blueprints are frameworks with source code and will target different scenarios. There will be more blueprints to be published during the next couple of months. It is something that I haven’t heard about until know, but it sounds very cool and something that I will definitely check out.

After that, Tony Goodhew, Product Manager of Visual Studio was brought to the stage for a demo on how to build great applications with Visual Studio 2008. He quickly demonstrated some of the new features in the IDE including the Split View feature between markup and design when creating ASP.NET solutions and the enhanced support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). He also showed how Visual Studio 2008 can target different versions of the .NET framework (2.0, 3.0 and 3.5), making it no excuse to not using Visual Studio 2008 on your .NET 2.0 solutions (and why shouldn’t you?). He showed us something that for me was new; extended support for JavaScript in the IDE which included support of debugging with breakpoints – that is pretty cool. Tony also showed us a fictional customer case of having workflows in SharePoint with a typical sequential Vendor Approval Workflow. This workflow included a Vendor Application word-document, with a custom Microsoft Office add-in dialog, which had WPF hosted inside an ElementHost control on this dialog. The ElementHost control supports two-way interop and it is there to host the right technology in the right place which was very well and convincing demoed in this case.

After the demo by Tony Goodhew we moved on to the funny video I was mentioning in the start of this text. S. Somasegar put on the video: “Visual Studio 2008: True Development Story”, which was had a sort of X-Files (or “Operation X” as we have a Danish documentary series called) kind of theme/atmosphere over it. It had this Professor commenting on the state from Microsoft that in the development of their Visual Studio 2008 they have been using their own product to build their own product – the professor compared that to his new book “Eating your own dog-food”, and even moved things a step further introducing the sequel “Eating your own dog-food even before you even have a dog” stating that it was too good to be true that such thing could occur. It was a great video and had Scott Guthrie in it. Scott is one of the Microsoft folks that I pay especially attention to by subscribing his blog-posts. The moral of the video did all go well with the philosophy that S. Somasegar stated in the speech: "Use what we ship, ship what we use".

We then had a demo on Visual Studio Extensibility by Dan Fernandez, the Lead Product Manager of Visual Studio, who showed us an Add-On Studio to the famous game World of Warcraft. Basically he had built his own custom IDE using Visual Studio and used it to create an add-on to World of Warcraft with Intellisense support to a custom .NET language that converts to what I think he called the LUA data structure which the game is based on – or at least something very close to that.

The new add-on to the game he demoed was an in-game screen dialog showing some info from the opponent creatures that he was attacking (or something like that – I haven’t played the game), and when he killed his opponents a MP3 file was played. It was pretty funny to see Dan walk around with his wife’s character in the World of Warcraft universe; slaughtering creatures and when doing so, a “Killimanjaro” sound was played when the third opponent was killed (this was actually the logic of the small code sample that he showed us – killing three opponents should result in playing this special MP3 file).

Dan Fernandez also did the final demo when he announced the new Microsoft Popfly. Popfly is an online web-based platform where you can share and publish web-pages with the rest of the world. The development can take place in Visual Web Developer Express and you can find a lot of Silverlight prebuilt templates/gadgets on Popfly to drag to your own page, or share your own. Popfly will make it easier for anyone to create a nice and cool-looking web-site, or at least that was the experience he brought from the presentation. He demoed a World of Warcraft fan web-site, and even so that it was a very quick presentation, Popfly seems to be very promising as they have made it easier for none-developers to create very cool web-sites, with the use of innovative products and technologies such as Visual Studio and Silverlight.

S. Somasegar finished off the keynote by telling us what is coming down the pipe from Microsoft. We got some insights on the future roadmap, which includes Expression Studio 2, Visual Studio 10, Silverlight vNext, .NET Framework 4.0, Windows Server 2008, Internet Information Services 7.0, SQL Server 2008 and BizTalk Server R6 – where some of the mentioned products/platforms are sooner to be released than others. He also gave us some detailed insight on the next version of Visual Studio Team System, codename “Rosario”, where the key themes for the product are; 1) enabling us to built the right thing the right way - being able to have a rich way to prioritize features with deep level integration between Project Server and Team Foundation Server, and 2) having the testing tools being more comprehensive than they are today, including support of test case management, manual testing, stress testing, load testing, code analysis testing etc.

Although he sometimes was a bit hard to understand due to strong dialect it was all in all a very good and informative keynote with cool demos and a funny video, but most important of all it was a nice kickoff to TechEd Developers 2007 which hopefully will contain lots of cool sessions! More on that as I go along. Stay tuned.

(Sorry about the long post - and most likely possible misspelling)

Posted on Tuesday, 06 November 2007 08:09:51 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)
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