Today has been a bit less eventful than yesterday. This morning there was the keynote speech by Eric Rudder, a vp from Microsoft. He introduced Visual Studio 'Whidbey', Sql Server 'Yukon', and the improved support for mobile devices.
The presentation was pretty good, although I had seen some of the new features from Whidbey, since I'm in the alpha program. I have to admit though, that I haven't spend nearly as much time on trying the alpha as originally planned. Since it's now officially announced, it means that we can discuss more on the features and functionality of the new development environment. The people at the PDC are, however, not allowed to make copies of the software, but I guess that with 7000 attendees, that will prove impossible to enforce. So those of you that were not here will surely see and even get more details on Whidbey. Microsoft will also spread the word of course.
Even though I wasn't as impressed now as I was when I got the first glimpse of Whidbey, that doesn't mean that the improvements to the tool are huge. But when you reflect, they are now giving features back that were in previous tools (like 'edit-and-continue') and added features that should have been there a long time ago (like html formatting). It almost seems like this is Microsoft's strategy. First, they give something that leaves much to be desired (remember dll-hell?) and then they provide a solution for the problem that they created in the first place. And now everybody is happy (the manager and the developer/administrator). Good marketing and having a marketing degree, I can totally understand the strategy. ;-)
So back to the features. One of the new things they showed was a set of tools (code-named "whitehorse") that enables architects and developers to easily design service-oriented applications and operations infrastructure simultaneously. "Whitehorse" uses a drag-and-drop design surface to connect XML Web services, and then validates the resulting applications against the deployment environment using the System Definition Model (SDM).
The overall goal for Whidbey is to reduce the amount of code that developers need to write for an application. By 70 percent actually, although this is an average. The focus is on common development scenarios, like databinding controls, navigation, personalization, authentication and authorization. ASP.NET "Whidbey" will also deliver support for themes and master pages, making it easy to create and maintain Web sites that have a consistent look and feel, and new management and configuration capabilities that simplify the management and deployment of Web applications.
There's also a new deployment technology, code-named "ClickOnce," that enables applications to be installed, updated and even rolled back to previous versions more easily.
The most important innovations for Yukon consist of support for CLR based languages. So any language that targets the CLR can run inside of Sql Server. Can you imagine the look on your DBA's face when you ask him to set up the new stored procedures for your application? That's one of the reasons why the new MCDBA track for 'Yukon' will include a Sql Server programming exam. Besided CLR support, a range of Web Services are included that expose the data in the database to the outside world. Finally, the tools for development and administration of Sql Server have been improved. Most management tasks can be done from within one consistent interface. Yukon is, however, still almost a year away.
Since I do not develop for mobile devices, it's a bit difficult for me to see the exact advancements that have been announced in this area. They did show a cool demo where an application was created from scratch that allowed for telephone with builtin-camera to take a picture and e-mail that picture to a person from the contactlist, together with weather info at that time and on the location of the telephone. The application was ready within 10 minutes, but of course, that only works when you know exactly what to do. It usually takes a mere mortal developer about half a day to figure out how to do the stuff that they showed within a couple of minutes.
The afternoon sessions were not always that interesting. There was one on the IDE features of Whidbey which was pretty cool, and one on the new features for ADO.NET (also nice, but the demos could have been presented faster). The session on the new Longhorn Identity system was not too great. The demos didn't quite work properly, and they spend too much time on the ins and outs of their new 'Information Card'. You can check out the msdn longhorn site to know more about this card.
There was a dinner with 'meet the experts' at the conference center. It was a bit difficult to find 'the experts' though. And in the area of 'Tools and Languages' I tried to find a J# discussion or expert, but that turned out to be in vain. I'm still wondering what the real deal is here (with J# that is). If I'm not too tired I check out some Birds of a Feather meetings later tonight. There are sessions till midnight, but I'm not making it that late.