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Microsoft recants branding excess with model merger

Oslo joins tools line up

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Microsoft's long march towards model-based development has seen it integrate its latest effort with the Visual Studio and the .NET Framework teams.

The company said it's also scaled back on the wide-ranging use of the phrase "Oslo" to describe the modeling initiative, saying it had "really confused customers".

Oslo joins .NET, which was slapped across tools and server products by an over-eager Microsoft after it was unveiled and then ratcheted back during the early 2000s.

Microsoft said Monday it's merged the Oslo team with the engineers already working on Entity Data Model (EDM), Entity Framework (EF), XML, ADO.Net and tools and designers. The news comes after a silence since May on what's happening on Oslo.

Members of the Oslo team have been working on the M language for building textual domain-specific languages (DSLs) and software models with XAML, the Quadrant tool for building and viewing models visually, and a repository to store and combine models using a SQL Server database.

The trio were unveiled less than a year back, in the run up to Microsoft's Professional Developers' Conference (PDC) in October last year.

Douglas Purdy, Microsoft product unit manager, blogged that details would be revealed on what the merger would mean for .NET and Visual Studio developers at this year's PDC.

He said, though, Oslo is rooted in the idea of metadata stored in a database. "During the 10 months since the last PDC, it as [sic] become increasing [sic] clear to us that the modeling platform is aligned in a deep and fundamental way with the data programmability stack (ADO.NET, EF/EDM, Astoria, etc.)."

He added Microsoft had really confused customers by using Oslo to cover a "multiyear, multiproduct effort" enhancing .NET, Visual Studio, BizTalk Server and SQL Server.

Oslo, as a concept, is the latest chapter in Microsoft's long-running DSL and model-driven-development story, and is theoretically tailored to service oriented architectures (SOAs).

The overall modeling effort started with the Visual Studio Team System in 2005 and Microsoft's work on Software Factories.

Microsoft's dream has been to "democratize" model-driven development, by making the tools easier to use than those offered by the likes of Rational and also more affordable - the goals of VSTS. Software Factories were to let people punch out code for specific domains.

Microsoft's slowly seeded the market for these through the rollout of workflow and design frameworks in Windows Vista and updates to Windows XP. It'll continue this with Windows 7 and the .NET Framework 4.0. The modeling work, though, has not caught on in the mass market as Microsoft probably hoped. ®

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