Microsoft this week released a new community technology preview (CTP) of its modeling environment code-named "Oslo." The latest CTP includes a new software development kit (SDK) with runtime and provides the first public look at Quadrant, the tool intended to provide visual browsing of models.
Oslo is the model-driven development platform that runs on a SQL Server 2008 repository under development by Microsoft. The first CTP was released at last year's Professional Developers Conference. Microsoft has since issued two other CTPs. As reported in a March interview with Kris Horrocks, senior product manager for Microsoft's developer platform team, Oslo will be part of Visual Studio 2010, which was also released to beta last week.
"In theory, Oslo will bring programming in one layer of abstraction closer to the user and the user's intent," said Stephen Forte, chief strategy officer at Telerik, who has spent the past few days testing the new Oslo CTP. "It's a great vision and I hope Microsoft completes that vision. They are doing a good job so far."
In addition to some updates to Oslo's "M" language for defining domain models (including domain-specific languages, or DSLs) and productivity fixes aimed at improving how developers work with the language, the first preview of Quadrant is a key component of the new CTP. Quadrant is the data visualization tooling that allows for the browsing of the Oslo repository.
Quadrant effectively is a separate shell, Horrocks said in the interview. "We are working in close concert with our Visual Studio team...to understand what the experience needs to be for our customers who are doing some modeling in the DSL Toolkit and some in Oslo," Horrocks said.
"What's interesting about the tool is now you can put things into the repository and you now have the ability to view them graphically as opposed to just using command lines or SQL statements," Forte said. "It's obviously in an early form but it looks pretty good. You can really work with your application data and metadata much better."
Another noteworthy addition to the CTP is the M editor, called Intellipad, Forte said, because it allows him to compile his DSLs created in M into the image files rather than having to use a command line interface.
"You can actually author M in Visual Studio much easier now with this SDK," Forte said. "You could in the past but integration is even tighter. For example, if you create and end the project in Visual Studio, you can now open that same M project in Intellipad, which you weren't able to do before. So the tooling definitely interoperates nicely."
Microsoft posted release notes at its Oslo Developer Center portal. The CTP is available for download here.