Microsoft set to hail Visual Basic 9.0, .Net query framework

Microsoft at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) next month will discuss a variety of upcoming technologies, including Visual Basic 9.0 and the .Net Language Integrated Query Framework.

Online abstracts are posted pertaining to the PDC, which will be held in Los Angeles the week of September 12. Microsoft would not provide a spokesperson Wednesday or Thursday to discuss technologies noted in the abstracts.

The Visual Basic 9.0 programming language "will offer radical improvements in its ability to work with data in all its forms: as objects, as XML, as relational data," according to one abstract. Version 9.0 will feature query comprehensions, object initialisers, and anonymous types for querying data in a more flexible way, the abstract states.

But an analyst cautioned against assessing the planned features at this time. "It's hard to say [what the significance of these features is] until we actually see the presentation," said Greg DiMichillie, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

"The biggest question Microsoft faces with Visual Basic and C# is drawing some distinctions between the two, besides one uses begin and end and the other uses curly braces," DiMichillie said, referring to programming concepts. C# programmers tend to be computer science professionals while Visual Basic users are more likely to be more business-oriented, DiMichillie said.

Microsoft, he added, will need to offer tools for its planned Windows Vista OS, which had been code-named Longhorn. The upcoming Visual Studio 2005 toolkit set to ship in November does not have them, DiMichillie said.

The .Net Language Integrated Query Framework, which is planned for the future "Orcas" release of the Visual Studio toolset, is intended to address mismatches in the way modern applications operate on data in different formats. The framework will support unified programming models via integrated query capabilities in C# and Visual Basic, a strongly typed data access framework and an API for manipulating and querying XML.

With the framework, Microsoft seeks to tie programming languages and database queries without making them SQL-specific, according to DiMichillie. "They'd like to make programming languages and database access and database queries more closely tied together but they want to do it in a way that still stays general-purpose," DiMichillie said.

Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Anders Hejlsberg, the chief architect of the Visual C# programming language, is set to give the presentation on .Net Language Integrated Query Framework.

Hejlsberg also will speak on C# 3.0. It will feature extension methods, lambda expressions, type inference, as well as anonymous type for expressing queries and interacting with objects, XML, and databases in a strongly typed, natural way, according to one abstract. C# 3.0 ties in with the .Net Language Integrated Query Framework.

Microsoft in the PDC abstracts also refers to its Indigo Web services technology as Windows Communication Foundation. Indigo has been positioned as Microsoft's offering for building transactional Web services. The software company plans to include it in Windows variations beginning in 2006.

Future directions for ASP.Net include the planned Atlas technology, which will make it easier to build Web applications that deliver rich, interactive experiences in a browser. Building on innovations in ASP.Net 2.0, Atlas will leverage technologies such as DHTML (Dynamic HTML) and XMLHTTP. Atlas features a JScript cross-browser client script framework for building browser applications with a rich UI and connectivity to Web services.

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Paul Krill

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