Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Microsoft's Ecosystem Effort

Bob Muglia, president of the Microsoft Server and Tools Business, praised the efforts of third-party vendors during his keynote speech at the Visual Studio 2010 launch event in Las Vegas on April 12. And for good reason. Many longtime Microsoft partners faced a major challenge as they reworked their solutions for the updated Visual Studio 2010 platform.

Visual Studio 2010 introduced a series of breaking changes to the IDE, including the completely overhauled Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)-based Editor and revamped integration model based on the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF). Despite the disruption, 57 third-party vendors appeared at the April launch event with shipping Visual Studio 2010-compatible products.

"It takes a village to solve this," Muglia said at the keynote, "and it's the connected ecosystem of our partners that makes it happen."

In fact, it was the combined effort of partners and Microsoft itself. Terence Clancy, business development manager for the Microsoft Development Platforms and Tools group, spent the last 18 months working with Visual Studio Integration Partner (VSIP) companies, trying to move them to the new platform. It was a tough sell, to say the least.

"It's a hard sell to tell your boss that you're going to work on something for a year, just to get the same level of functionality that you had a year ago," Clancy said at the event.

A lot was at stake for Microsoft. Clancy said that late-arriving products and tooling for the new IDE would almost certainly slow adoption of Visual Studio 2010. "If you can't get your ReSharper or whatever product to work with the new version, you just won't upgrade," he explained.

To get partners up to speed, in 2008 Microsoft began to focus on the changes in the Visual Studio platform at its triannual Dev Clinics and biannual Dev Summits. VSIP partners under non-disclosure agreements gained early access to project information, technical documentation and code drops well in advance of the first public community technology preview of Visual Studio 2010. Still, some partners faced a daunting task.

"The hardest bit was the Editor. The people, quite frankly, who were most heavily impacted were the refactoring companies -- DevExpress, JetBrains, Whole Tomato -- because they integrate at a very granular level with the text editor. And, quite frankly, they had to throw away a lot of code," Clancy said.

Microsoft Analyzes Mountains of Data in SQL Server 2008 R2

SQL Server 2008 R2, launched in April and expected to become widely available this month in conjunction with Office 2010, is the first release with a huge dependency on Office and SharePoint. Microsoft is highlighting its self-service business intelligence capabilities, which are tied into Excel Services in a browser

running in SharePoint. The PowerPivot add-in for Excel 2010 is also part of the SQL Server 2008 R2 release. It supports viewing and working with large-scale data in Excel workbooks that can be published to SharePoint Servers. This functionality requires SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint, which is a separate product.

For developers, SQL Server 2008 R2 introduces the concept of the data-tier application package or Data Tier Application Component (DAC). Developers with Visual Studio 2010 can package the schemas, objects, physical database and log files in a data tier as single unit of deployment. Some data types -- including spatial -- aren't supported in the initial release. Wizards in SQL Server Management Studio can also be used to extract a data-tier app from an instance of SQL Server to create a DAC. For enterprise DBAs, SQL Server Management Studio offers multiserver management of SQL Server 2008 R2 at launch and SQL Server 2008 in SP1 (SQL Server 2005/2000 are not supported by this feature).

This release also introduces the SQL Server Master Data Services -- -based on the master data management technology acquired in June 2007 when Microsoft bought Stratature -- and complex events processing in SQL Server StreamInsight.

-- Kathleen Richards

JetBrains worked for months with Microsoft to enable the new WPF Editor, according to Oleg Stepanov, head of the JetBrains .NET division. "Microsoft scenarios were debugged early, but when ReSharper came in, we found we made heavy use of advanced APIs," he said. "So we worked for several months to make sure there were no memory leaks."

Event attendee Daniel Jebaraj, vice president of component maker Syncfusion Inc., said Microsoft did an outstanding job supporting partners throughout the Visual Studio 2010 development cycle.

"They've been really good putting out releases through the VSIP program," said Jebaraj, who noted that VSIP partners got early access to release candidate and release to manufacturing (RTM) bits. "With RTM, every vendor looks for minimal changes before it goes live. I don't think we made a single code change to go live with the RTM," he added.

Ultimately, said Clancy, pulling together support for Visual Studio 2010 was largely a matter of timing. "Partners were happy to see the product moving in a good architectural direction, as long as we gave them plenty of warning," he explained. "And one thing we got right was we gave them plenty of warning."

SQL Server 2008 R2 Set to Analyze Mountains of Data, Coming in May‘Who Do You Love’: White Boy Blues, By Kurt Loder