Yukon take Microsoft back to developer roots

Simplification

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Features that anticipate and complete a developer's next programming move are slated for Microsoft Corp's Visual Studio.NET Yukon, billed by one executive as a "return to the company's roots",

Gavin Clarke writes

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Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft told ComputerWire Visual Studio.NET Yukon would "dramatically simplify" application development, offering greater use of IntelliSense to make the integrated development environment (IDE) smarter.

IntelliSense, used in other Microsoft products like Internet Explorer, automates activities such as correcting mistakes. Microsoft told ComputerWire it might expand this to ask a developer up-front what they are trying to achieve and to automate tasks.

Yukon is due in 2004, after launch of Visual Studo.NET Everett due in the first quarter of 2003. Details of both have been sketchy although Everett is regarded as a relatively minor release, fixing bugs, improving performance of code and adding the Compact .NET Framework - now in beta.

Microsoft said Visual Studio.NET Yukon would feature the majority of improvements and new features. Details have been scant, given the relatively distant release date, and the company has just initiated its familiar "requirements gathering phase" when it consults customers on features.

But Chris Flores, Visual Studio .NET product manager, told ComputerWire that with Yukon "we are really going back to our roots, dramatically simplifying development."

"You will see the environment get smarter, you will see the environment get more participatory," Flores said.

Yukon is scheduled to support the next version of Microsoft's SQL Server database codenamed Yukon. Microsoft has promised integration of its .NET Framework in the database - an integral part of Visual Studio.NET - and the Common Language Runtime (CLR). Yukon will - theoretically - enable tables and applications to be programmed in languages other than TSQL, such as C Sharp.

Despite the changes, Microsoft is anxious to avoid ruffling developers' feathers. Prior to Visual Studio.NET 1.0, members of the 3.5 million-strong Visual Basic developers community objected to proposed changes in their language that took them closer to C/C++.

Flores said the biggest thing Microsoft learned from that experience is to listen to developers. He added Microsoft's roadmap would keep its languages separate, avoiding increased convergence.

That's something one Visual Basic user would rather not see. Developers for the Central Bank of Costa Rica said they would like to generate HTML from a comment, a feature found in C Sharp but not Visual Basic.NET. Generation of HTML provides for collaborative working online.

Old loyalties appear difficult to change, too, as programmers stick with their favored Microsoft programming language rather than experiment with new languages. The Central Bank of Costa Rica last week announced it had migrated 1.3 million lines of Visual Basic 6.0 code to Visual Basic.NET on its high-transaction electronic payment and transaction system. The system handles 100,000 transactions involving more than $500 million each day.

The bank said Visual Basic.NET offers improved performance and simplified data integration though native use of XML. It remains wedded, though, to Visual Basic.NET, with no plans to use C Sharp.

One C/C++ programmer said he was a life-long loyalist and was unlikely to switch languages. However, he did call on Microsoft to take more steps to bring Java programmers into Visual Studio.NET.

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