Introducing the "Friends of Client Development Newsletter" (March 2006)

Friends of Client Development Newsletter – March 2006

Introducing our Team

Greetings from the Microsoft product team that brings you WinForms!

We’re launching this newsletter as an insider's view of what we’re working on - the first in series of monthly newsletters that gives you the latest on our progress in developing new products, our vision for the future, and anything we think you'll find interesting and exciting.  We would love to hear from you - send your feedback and suggestions to Rich Ersek (richarde@microsoft.com).

Current Projects

So what have we been up to in the past several months?  We’ve just finished up a quality-focused milestone which gave us an opportunity to further improve on our engineering practices.   For example, one of our accomplishments in this milestone was to reactivate and reevaluate all of the bugs we postponed from the “Whidbey” (Visual Studio 2005) release so we could prioritize those fixes appropriately and start the next major release (codenamed “Orcas”) with a clean slate.   We also put new processes in place such as “feature crews” and have adapted agile development practices that will help us to increase product quality and to deliver great features and great products.     

 

We’ll put the spotlight on a different project each month.  Throughout the course of the year we’ll update you on new developments along with a few new projects.   Here’s an overview of a few new things we’re working on:

 

Acropolis – Revolutionizing Smart Client Development

Smart client solutions can offer a wealth of benefits in flexibility and usability over thin client solutions while at the same time retaining some of their manageability capabilities. These benefits can be substantial and can include an increase in user efficiency, a reduction in development and training costs, and corresponding improvements in the overall TCO and ROI of the solution. Smart client solutions can also open up a host of new scenarios for mobile workers and provide productive solutions that operate in offline and intermittent connectivity situations. Unfortunately, developing smart client solutions can be challenging. The lack of an application model, supporting infrastructure, and out-of-the-box implementations for commonly used client-side services forces each developer to address these sometimes complex issues themselves.

 

Acropolis aims to remedy this situation by providing an application framework and tools to support the development of smart client line-of-business solutions. Acropolis is based on the composite smart client approach where solutions are constructed from a number of loosely coupled ‘parts’. Each part provides a unit of self-contained functionality that can be independently tested and developed and re-used in many different solutions. Parts allow solutions to be assembled in a very flexible way so that they can be more easily updated to include new functionality or more easily changed to suit new business requirements.

 

Acropolis provides tools that support the visual assembly of solutions from parts and for the definition of business logic via workflow. Acropolis leverages the power of the Windows Presentation Framework (formerly Avalon), allowing Acropolis applications to provide next generation user experiences with support for advanced data visualization, theming and customization. Acropolis also integrates with ASP.NET supporting services for managing authentication, authorization and user personalization, allowing a common administrative experience across both thin and smart client solutions.

 

We would very much welcome your feedback on our vision for Acropolis. Please watch this space for more information on how to get involved in the Acropolis smart client revolution!

 

Crossbow (Mike Henderlight)

In case you are not familiar with Crossbow, it’s the code name for the interoperability layer between Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).   There has been some exciting new recently on the Crossbow runtime front as we are now executing on a plan that will have us shipping the runtime along with WPF.  Originally, we were going to ship the runtime in the next release of Visual Studio (code named “Orcas”).   After talking with many customers, it became clear that we needed to do whatever we could to move up the ship date so that we could release coincident with WPF.  We’re happy to report that we heard you loud and clear and we will deliver!

 

The sense of urgency makes perfect sense if you think about it.   Crossbow is all about the ability to leverage your existing investments in Windows Forms and infuse your application with WPF functionality at your pace and without having to re-write your entire application.  Furthermore, if you choose to write a WPF application from the ground up, you may need to augment the feature set of WPF by utilizing Windows Forms controls, Windows Forms-based User Controls and/or ActiveX controls.  For example, many customers need a rich DataGrid control and since WPF will not ship a DataGrid control in the first release, customers want to use the Windows Forms 2.0 DataGridView control. 

 

Now it’s your turn again.   We need you to download the next public release of WPF (Beta2) and try out this technology and give us feedback.  Report bugs to us via the MSDN Feedback Center, spread the word about the technology, blog about it, find ways to add value to existing Windows Forms application using WPF functionality.  For more information including samples and getting started info, check out Mike Henderlight’s blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/mhendersblog).

 

Occasionally Connected Smart Clients (Steve Lasker)

Enabling users to work on their terms, not just when a network connection is available

Occasionally Connected Systems (OCS) is an Orcas scenario focused on empowering the Windows platform with end user value.  By enabling RAD productivity for developing offline LOB applications, Smart Client developers will finally have one of the key missing components to help push Windows into the mobile market enabling end users to work on their terms.  In addition to providing offline capabilities, or intelligent caching for read-only data, OCS also simplifies the programming model for small apps that grow to large apps.  Historically, developers were left to Access and Fox Pro to productively develop small applications.  As these apps grew, they typically had to re-write these apps to handle scaling requirements.  By leveraging a light weight, in-proc local data store developers can work with locally cached data.  As their apps need to synchronize local data with other data services, developers will be able to leverage a new set sync components.  This is a big advantage for the .NET platform, a value add for WinForms developers and a compelling motivation for VB6 developers to upgrade.  To get more details, you can view a presentation Steve Lasker gave at VSLive San Francisco.  http://blogs.msdn.com/smartclientdata/archive/2006/02/01/522549.aspx

 

 

Upcoming Events

4/2-5 – ASP.NET Connections, Orlando, FL (http://www.devconnections.com/).  DevConnections is one of the premier developer events and will feature ASP.NET team members along with several of the leading experts in the ASP.NET community.   .NET Developer Platform General Manager, Scott Guthrie, will give the keynote.

6/11-16 – TechEd, Boston, MA (www.microsoft.com/TechEd).  - Tech·Ed is Microsoft’s largest annual conference for providing IT professionals and developers with technical training, information and resources to build, deploy and manage solutions with currently shipping and near-term Microsoft technologies.

Disclaimer: This information is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.  Copyright© 2006, Microsoft Corporation.   All Rights Reserved.  Use of these contents is subject to the terms specified at http://www.microsoft.com/info/cpyright.htm.

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