September 2005 - Posts
At PDC05 I attended a very good presentation on Visual Studio Team System testing. The presenter walked through a scenerio where a developer was beginning to work on an ASP.NET web application and after getting the code from source control, needed to run a set of build verification tests (BVTs) to make sure everything was set up properly. He used VSTS's awesome new webtests (think...vastly improved Application Center Test a.k.a. ACT) to do this. What he failed to mention is that for most developers this scenario won't be possible because if I understood correctly, the webtest feature isn't included in the Developer edition. It is only in the Tester edition and the full suite.
If you have an MSDN Universal subscription like I do, you have the option to choose between one of the three editions (Architect, Developer or Tester), and for many of us the logical choice will be the Software Developer, but it's going to be another bunch of money to upgrade to the full suite. This was disappointing to me because I see incredible value in putting testing tools in the hands of the developers, and not just testers. This encourages test driven development, and performance checking. I personally like to test the performance impact of various design decisions on my apps. Did the change you just made help or hurt performance? If you don't profile it, you will probably never know. I was hoping that at the very least the developer would be able to execute the webtests if not record them. It really is too bad that such a valuable tool won't be available to developers without having to pay extra for the full suite.
When I saw the demo of the newly announced Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) in Wednesday's PDC05 keynote, I quickly replaced the sessions I had originally planned to attend that afternoon with three straight sessions on WWF to get a better handle on what MS has done, and I must say that I am quite impressed and excited by what I saw.
We've probably all written workflow-like stuff in just about every app we've worked on, but rarely is it ever done the same way twice. To have the fundamental mechanism provided by the platform is very exciting. It is cleverly designed to be a small, lightweight framework that you can easily host in your own process, with a business rules engine, and a VSNET hosted graphical designer tool to boot. It doesn't try to be all things to all people, but rather provides just the fundamentals, leaving extension points for you to write custom Activites to do virtually anything you require. Bravo to the MS team, I can't wait to get the bits installed somewhere to start playing with this more.
Unfortunately, as is true with every PDC I've attended, I get all excited about some technology we can't start using for "real" yet. I think I heard estimates that WinFX won't release until some time in the second half of 2006.
Did anyone else here at PDC05
catch that slide in Wednesday morning's keynote that mentioned that SharePoint was going to support Blogs and Wikis? I sure would be interested in hearing more about their plans in that area.
Well it's off to the PDC05 in Los Angeles. I'm looking forward to it a great deal...four straight days of Powerpoints! Can you get any geekier than that? I usually come away from PDC's all excited about technologies that we can't have yet because they're a l-o-ong way out, and I'm sure this will be no different. But it's good to know the technology vector that Microsoft is on so you can plan accordingly in your technology direction. The good news is that soon I'm actually getting a laptop that's capable of running virtual PC's so I may even get a chance to play with the bits they give us for real this time. See some of you in sunny CA. I'll be the guy in glasses, shorts, a polo shirt and sandals...wait that may not be specific enough...carrying a PDA.