2008/10/30

PDC 2008 - Day 2 - Keynote

Windows 7 is here...

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Steven Sinofsky (which report direclty to Steve Ballmer) talked about Windows 7. Here are the key messages from the presentation:

Windows 7 - A lap on User Interface

  • Improvement on Task-Bar and Tray-Area (notification management and Jump-List) ;
  • The wIndows are now dockable on the desktop and the UI seems a multi-user documents interface like Office clients;
  • Libraries are groups of storage resources (external disks, folders, etc.) that could be aggregated from the search point-view and you can search items on a specifice Library (ie My Videos...);
  • Home Groups are a set of shared resources that you can find and connect usually at home (printers, players, shared folders on NAS, etc,) to whose Windows 7 will automatically connect althouh if it's usually joined to a domain (like for a business laptop). Before Home Groups to get the same you need to write you own startup scripts;
  • Device Stage "defines" the plumbing of a device and to which other devices could be connected. Also it's single management entry point for each device;
  • You can play remotely an MP3 file or mpg video (right click and "Play to" with a list of target devices (players,  MM devices, ...) ;
  • Touch is definitevely the major improvement in the UI. I don't have an iPhone but should be the same but tailored to big screens;
  • BitLocker extended to USB and external storage devices. BitLocker is a tecnology to encrypt and protect data on storage devices. Now it work also with solid state-memorie.
  • VHD: It comes from Hyper-V, Windows 7 can manage different VHDs files and could be itself installed on a VHD because the boot manager can choose the image to start! I love this!
008 On the left the major improvements on Windows 7.
The new version is not a breakthrough like Vista compared to XP, but appears to be a major review to Vista improving it accordingly to users feed-backs.
Everybody at PDC has a lot of expectation about performances!
012 On the left the Jump-List over the Task-Bar
014 015 Device Stage where there is a single point of management for each connected device to an hosting PC.
016 A demo about Touch using new Home-PC from HP. You should think to an iPhone experience using a bigger  LCD...
Very interesting for Multimedia and obviously for Process Control Applications (SCADA) on plant production lines.
Keep in mind: Touch was also supported by Vista but now it has been strongly enhanced in term of user experience (for example with multitouch).
017 Windows 7 (the front-end) has been reengineered to stricly interact with Live Services (the users Cloud).
018 About the transitions the driver model and the drivers are the same of Vista, so there will not be the issues as moving from XP to Vista about devices compatibility.
019

Call to action fro developers, new features to be evaluated with an API:

  • Ribbon User Interface
  • Jump-List
  • Libraries
  • Multi-Touch, Speech
  • Direct-X
020 The Windows 7 Development project drivers:
Less memory foot-print and I/O to get more performance.
I wanna see the improvement on registry access that is one of the worst bottleneck in Vista.
022 The Pre-Beta is available now! I will evaluate if installing it on my laptop.
Following there will be Beta 1, Beta 2 and RTM.
The Pre-Beta will achieve the goals for performances but is not yet features completed.
Some other minor improvements:

The DLP integration and the extended desktop through Remote Desktop are great!
For the first time in a Microsoft Presentation :-D Steven Sinofsky showed a switching on the DLP by a laptop and it worked (with all the people clapping).
024 Call to Action for Developers!
025 027 Scott Guthrie explained why Windows 7 is a great platform for developers...
But this message was built on user interface improvements.
I should admit that DLP management and remote desktop extension are great for my job.
028 A Demo from Auto-Desk in which they leverage Microsoft Surface to improve the user experience of designer.
The demo was "cute" but I don't think that in real world application you can model your sketch with a finger... Maybe some application are feasible for fashion.
031 036Obviously both .Net and C++ development environment are supported by Windows 7
For C++ VS2010 is mandatory.
For .Net the 3.5SP1 fw release is ready.
039 .Net 4 is closer to be really available. Now there is CTP on a VHD for a first evaluation. 
A lot of improvement on WF, WCF and now Dublin is available (but I'll blog later about it).
The idea is that you can host and MANAGE workflow processes. Dublin "de facto" is a WF application server.
040 Extensibilty in VS2010, you can create your Extenston assemblies (for example to add features to the IDE and the editor like in the left picture) and deploy them just copying the DLL in the VS  extension directory.
No registration to be performed!
041 042 Very impressive demo from Tesco (the UK grocery market leader). They created a Windows 7 Gadget totally based on WPF which work with Touch experience to create a community of families, managing an agenda of deliveries and to leverage the webcam integrated in a pc to read the barcode and placing the order!
It was impressive.
044 JQuery will be part of the development tools of Microsoft and it will supported by MS as an open-source project!
JQuery is an lite JavaScript library that is one of the most popular libraries by web developer. In a very easy way you can interrogate (query) your html page so that is very usefull for creating Ajax applications.
047 In a Visual Studio solution (2010) now you can have different configuration files for different targent environment (like development, staging, production for example).
048 049Improved support from Visual Studio 2010 to SilverLight.
Now a Silveri Light designer is included directly in VS (and VS itself is based on WPF) and a toolkit with some additional control for Silverlight is available here.
050 051 Live Services, using the new development platform is very easy to create Mesh applications tailored to consumer users.
There is the Live Services framework (a .Net library) to create application in this environment
More information about this world here.
052 053 A demo from BBC quite impressive.
An offline multimedia player based on SilverLight!
It can interact with all devices  having Live Mesh installed to share the users preferences.
clip_image018 Office 14 is coming...
We've as seen some very impressive demos about the integration of Office Online within Office for desktops to collaborate on documents (OneNote, Word, Excel)
clip_image014 clip_image016In this demo over 2 concurrent PCs is possible to collaborate with OneNote using the PC client and the Online version at the same time!

The same approach is also possible using Word and Word Online.

I'd like to know more about Office 14 but I think that this will be the only Office 14 topic in all the PDC.
clip_image012 Is it Excel 14? No it's Excel Online hosted by Firefox.
clip_image022 And this is Microsoft Surface.  No mouse, no keyboard, just your hands.
We can think about application scenarios (...first of all high branded retail shop!)

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Keynote from Chris Anderson and Don Box. It's not a speech instead is a Jam Session they're great (and they didn't use PowerPoint!).

The expectation from PDC people for them is the same for a concert of Bruce Springsteen...

The compressed a lot of topic in just 70 mins. very impressive:

  • They started from PDC 2005 demo built on LinQ to get the list of process from a system with a service (the provider exposing data through WCF) and a console client (the consumer)
  • The Service has been transformed in a simple Azure (cloud-based) , publishing it on the ServiceBus  And finally, they deployed the service into the cloud so that it was being hosted by the Azure servers.
  • Later they interact with LiveMesh using the same approach and just changing the authentication provider.

The most important message from this talk was that the service that they wrote was accessible through standards protocols.

Azure-based services are accessible through a “REST-ful” interface, using the existing GET/PUT/POST/DELETE verbs in HTTP to execute corresponding Read/Update/Create/Delete data operations on the service provider.

During the single step they just changes the URI of the client to change the plumbing and connects to different service (WCF, Azure, LiveMesh) leveraging the same pattern.

2008/10/29

PDC 2008 - Day 1 - Other sessions

ASP.NET MVC: A New Framework for Building Web Applications by Phil Haack

I already knew MVC which is tool-set built over ASP.Net to implement the architectural pattern of MVC (Model View Controller).

During this session Phil Hack has explained some approach to use ASP.Net and IIS as a more effective platform to build WEB 2.0 applications.

ASP.NET MVC really looks alike Ruby On Rails and it's very use to use within Ajax.

The architecture of www.stackoverflow.com (maybe the first real application built with MVC has been explained by the CEO Jeff Atwod ).

MVC has been developed has an agile project collaborating with the community and it's supported through CodePlex. The official site is here from where you can download the toolkit and have access to all the documentation.

Identity: "Geneva" Server and Framework Overview by Caleb Baker, Stuart Kwan

Geneva (aka Zermatt) is a platform (server + development toolkit) for identity management and federation management composed by a set of tools and services:

  • Geneva Framework: is the set of .Net libraries to connect your applications to this environment;
  • Geneva Server: is the identity server to store the policies and to manage the plumbing of federation;
  • Geneva CardSpace: is the CardSpace release tailored to Geneva;

Geneva is a complex environment to define trusted set of resources based on policies and claims about the policies (yes, it's the same pattern of Kerberos that seems to have inspired Geneva).

The topic is hard and complex to be blogged but very interesting and it's a must for who need to create cross-company applications through HTTP which are federated (...or obviously if you'll write code for the cloud!)

The beta of Geneva is available now, the RTM for the second half of 2009.

The framework is available for VS2008, VS2010.

SQL Server: Database to Data Platform - Road from Server to Devices to the Cloud by David Campbell

David Campell explained how the world of databases is changed in the last 20 years.

Now you can choose from different DB technologies all based on SQL-Server.

  • SQL-Server mobile
  • SQL-Server
  • SQL-Services (aka SDS)

What's the best for what?

Depends from the scenario. You have different choices permitting you to leverage different hardware singularity in a whole overall solution.

It reminds me Jack Welch who used to day "Think globally, act locally" and that's true in a well conceived architecture.

My expectation from the presentation were to know something more about SQL Server Services, but we got just a bird-eye view.

One drawback: when you create solution for SQL-Services you cannot test them locally.

PDC 2008 - Day 1 - Microsoft Visual Studio Team System: A Lap Around VSTS 2010

Nice and interesting presentation from Cameron Skinner about VS2010 focused on the new testing and ALM feature.

037 Here are the requirements for the new release of VS2010!
Those requirements are translated in new functionalities and practices supported by VS2010 with a lot of small improvements which promises to simplify a lot the daily life for the developers!

 

038 This is the Bug Report view that has been strongly improved. Now the tester could also save a video to show the error to the developer and when the application crashes is it possibile to save the state and context (a dump) so that developers could inspect this file to evaluate what's happened leveraging the VS integrated debugger.

Some improvement included in the IDE:

  • Test Impacted: when you choose this function (with a right click) on a function you can see the tree of impacted tests (to avoid the butterfly effect that happens when you change a small part of code and a lot of unexpected functionalities are impacted!)
  • Test Validation: Before check-in a test-validation is mandatory to avoid to break a continuos-building process.
  • Sequence-Diagram: it's possible to generate a Sequence-Diagram to show the interaction between the function and methods.
039 On the left there is an architectural diagram of the name-spaces in a solution. It's a cool feature  because you can define architectural-constraints and when the code violate them, warning and report are automatically generated so that you can review the architectural assumption.

Test-Recorder maybe is the most complex feature add to the test tool-set in VSTS. You can record your interaction with WEB applications and Windows Form applications for performing regression-tests and including this "functional test" in the the validation process.

VSTS 2010 is including some functionalities that use to be part of other sophisticated and vertical quality control platform (like Compuware, Mercury, etc,)

Recap

  • Those are not the whole features of VS 2010 but just a small subset about the ALM for testing!
  • VS 2010 is a WPF application. That's cool! You can see a lot of improvements in the editors.
  • Drawback: Unfortunately the Test Recorder doesn't support SilverLight and I guess that a future support hasn't yet been
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  • planned

2008/10/28

PDC 2008 - Day 1 - Keynote

The "huge" news from Ray Ozzie keynote has been Azure which represents the coming of Microsoft in the world of cloud computing (a sexy buzz-word to describe a buzz-concept like Software+Services :-D )

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My expectations from PDC were for a set of tools and maybe server platforms to create the "clouds" but Microsoft has gone beyond!

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The main idea is to leverage the huge MS experience on data-centers (Live, MSN, MSDN, Windows Update, etc.) to create an hosted-horizontal platform that could be used by external developers to create their own service application without having to think about the engineering of the server farm (network, storage, disaster-recovery...). All is managed and maintained by the MS team.

So everything we use to know until today (the MS Server Platform or what is assumed to be "The Premises") is enforced with a new set of online "tools" hosted and managed on the MS datacenters spread around the world.

To have access to those tools obviously a license has to be purchased (but the sales strategy doesn't appear to be already defined). In 15 days demo access token will be released to the attendant of the PDC to test and play with the platform!

014 The On-Line platform is composed by a set of services (SQL Services, Live Services, Sharepoint Services, .Net Services, Dynamics CRM Services) that appear to be a "subset" of the original server application but tailored to work in a cloud environment.
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To create your hosted-application, new project templates are available in VS 2008. What is really amazing is that you can run and debug your application locally and then deploy it to the online services!

To deploy the application just push the "Publish" button in Visual Studio.

Well, to be honest is not possible to debug locally SQL Server Service (but this hasn't mentioned during the keynote...)

016 You own Dashboard is available online to manage the application (I think there are 2 environments, for staging and production) but I didn't understand if the versioning is managed and how.
019

An application has been demonstrated (www.bluehoo.com) which leverage the hosted platform.

Ok there is Silverlight, there are animations. It's an application for Social Networking integrating Mobile- Phones with the cloud but I didn't understand the business model (and this is my concern, when we talk about Azure there is a technical perspective where everything is cool, and there is a business perspective where everything is dark...)

021

Bob Muglia talked about the impact on Enterprise companies.

The idea is that we're entering in a new era for computer applications (and that's potentially is true but I don't think the adoption will be so quickly).

024 What is very important for enterprise application is the extensiveness of the platform that is guaranteed by .Net Services (you can create and deploy you own .Net assemblies and integrating them with a set of integration services like workflow, identity management etc.)
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Security, Identity Management and Federation are Key-Concept for Cloud Computing and everything has been released in this platform.

What I've really appreciated is the Active Directory connector that can be used to delegate authentication and authorization to the company system which is "federated" in the service.

There are some wizards which will guide you in the configuration of the "federation". It has been very impressive"

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SQL-Server Services is the database offered by Azure. Don't think to it as an hosted full SQL-Server! It's a subset and you don't OLAP cubes, Integration Services, etc.

At the moment I don't know the available features but the idea should be having a relational online database for your on-line application. The implication is that you cannot use this as an alternative to SQL-Server. It' hasn't been conceived to store TB of data!

Also if your application need to integrate data from etherogeneus data-sources (not on HTTP) maybe is not a good idea to put it on an Online platform!

Azure has been created for HTTP applications! EAI and ETL cannot run on this platform!

So Keep it on mind! If you're from Italy and you're thinking to this platform to put-away the servers and the system engineers from you small to medium size company (a PMI) you're on the wrong-way

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The final demonstration was driven by Shawn Davison from RedPrairie which explained how they delivered and integrated Microsoft System Center with an approach Software+Services showing some Dashboard and some reports build with Reporting Services 2008.

Recap

Technical Perspective

  • Everything seems to be amazing.
  • Which are the wall and the constraints imposed by the platform interfaces contracts? How complex could be the applications? Which are the functional boundaries?
  • Which are the performances trade-off and the suggested storage and transaction limits (the work-load)?

Business Perspective

  • A billing module is missing. That's a lack for a services development platform. I'd like to see off-the-shelves functionality to manage the billing of the services!
  • How the platform will be selled by MS?
  • Which is the partner ecosystem? Potentially some applications could be moved from small/medium size companies to hosted platform (Exchange, Sharepoint, CRM) shrinking the market for system engineers consultancy.
  • Which could be the business-model for service application hosted by Azure? Who will build them?? Maybe Azure could be for the innovative startup companies what myspace has been for the musicians...
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