Thursday, October 30, 2008

PDC2008 - Day 2

Keynotes 2 & 3

The second PDC day was again introduced by Ray Ozzie. The main topic of the keynote was to create holistic solutions for PC, Web and phones in order to create synergies and get the best out of the different devices. Ozzie and his colleagues introduced important new technologies as important blocks for this interesting vision on the Microsoft platform.

Demos of Windows 7, Azure Services, Live Mesh and the Web version of Office 14 showed interesting scenarios, how this idea might look like in the future.

Steve Sinofsky presented some fancy new features of Windows 7, most of them regarding the skinning, like a new task bar. But Windows 7 offers some really nice convenience features, we all would have needed since Windows XP:

A feature called "homegroup" distinguishes office and home environments for laptop users. This enables features like automatic swapping of a default printer - depending of the network you are currently working in. But "homegroup" offers more: One nice feature is a mechanisms to synchronize media and documents between all the different connected home devices. Thus it is possible to play music stored on other computers in the "homegroup".

A feature called "libraries" enables the user to create sort of  logical folders, which can be used to represent content from different physical folders at a common location in the explorer. One use case is to create a music library in order to scroll through music which is physically distributed in My music, an USB drive folder and a network folder, but presented in a common "library".

Next was Scott Guthrie showing off some different new technology stuff. Most interesting to me was that VS 2010 will be built with a completely new WPF-based GUI built on the Managed Extensibility Framework. This enables powerful extensions, especially for the code editor. ScottGu showed a small demo, in which he dynamically replaced the code documentation above the C# methods within the new code editor. Instead of the plain old
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he showed a nice embedded WPF control, which contained the comment text with hyperlinks into work items, that were referenced in the documentation text.

Another demo of Live Services and Live Mesh showed that Microsoft put also a lot of effort in these services in order to share data between devices, again through synchronization features.

BBC gave an impressive show-case demo of their  iPlayer v2, which is based on Silverlight technology and enables media consumption "on demand" and sharing of playlists and favorites between you and your friends in a very comfortable way.

Office 14 finally contains a Web edition. Demos for Office OneNote, Word and Excel showed that different users can work simultaneously on the same documents- regardless wether the use the desktop or web version of Office. Changed parts of the document are highlighted in the other user's application with the name of the other user. Changes are synchronized in an asynchronous fashion.

The third keynote of this PDC was given by Chris Anderson and Don Box. The session was extremely code-centric and showed the RESTful API experience if you want to address the new Windows Azure Services. Don and Chris generally are great presenters, but this time lost their audience several times, because they didn't motivate their quite entertaining show...

A modeling framework called "Oslo"

The remainder of my day was focused with the new modeling framework "Oslo". Oslo wasn't really mentioned in any of the keynotes, but might be one of the "big things" in the next years.

This new framework can be used to design textual and graphical Domain Specific Languages. New tools code-named "IntelliPad" and "Quadrant" help developers to design their own language and its graphical representation. The languages and their schema are defined using a new structural language called "M" which looks similar to JSON. "M" is compiled into a relational representation using the M compiler. The result is stored in a database in order to enable powerful queries against the models.

Oslo is still in a pre-alpha version - yet Microsoft starts to use it heavily in order to create its own DSLs for certain key areas. Prominent examples are MService to create a very short definition of service endpoints and MEntity - a very compact form of expressing object-relational mappings for the Microsoft Entity Framework.