Microsoft riding Whitehorse for developers

Microsoft Corp. in the "Whidbey" version of the Visual Studio tool, due in 2004, will feature a set of design tools called "Whitehorse," to enable building of services-oriented systems.

Whitehorse enables visualization of relationships between services, according to Rick LaPlante, a general manager in the Microsoft developer division. He spoke during a presentation at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2003 in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

LaPlante showed a three-step demonstration in which information is communicated to an engineering team, a view of the datacenter is presented, and a service is validated to conform to policies. Web services can be incorporated or restricted via Whitehorse.

An audience member said the idea of Whitehorse, to unite network operators and developers, is a good one.

"I think that Whitehorse is kind of a great technology, to integrate those two (technology areas)," said attendee John Conger, assistant vice president and senior development analyst at Ivy Asset Management.

Microsoft Senior Vice President Eric Rudder and other Microsoft officials on Tuesday stressed ease of development features planned for Whidbey for both client and Web development.

Print management will be simplified, as will user management. "Whidbey has a feature to deal with objects to simplify printing," Rudder said.

"In Whidbey, we've also taken a dramatic step forward and built in a user management system to ASP .Net," he added.

Visual Basic development is eased in Whidbey, said Ari Bixhorn, lead product manager in the Microsoft developer division. "We really are able to take productivity to new heights, particularly for Visual Basic developers," Bixhorn said.

He gave a demonstration in which he built an insurance claims processing form, which featured guides telling where to drag and drop a particular tools window.

"In Whidbey, we can click on a field; in this case it's a service. We drag and drop it onto our form and boom -- automatically generate a data-bound UI," Bixhorn said.

Also highlighted in Whidbey is a new help system called My Help, providing better searching, a hierarchical view of data, and integrated community features. Help notes are updated as well.

The smart tag feature in Whidbey enables customization of a look and feel of an interface without writing any code, Bixhorn said. Advanced data binding enables binding of a picture to data in SQL Server, for example.

Web application development functions planned for Whidbey enable the product to be combined with ASP .Net for faster development of Web applications, said Scott Guthrie, product unit manager in the Microsoft developer division.

When building new pages on a site, master templates can be used to add content directly to the page. Web services can be accessed for information such as user IDs. Control technology also is used for functions such as providing a login screen, according to Guthrie.

Microsoft also is planning enhancements to its mobile development offerings to dramatically reduce the lines of code required for development, company officials said.

Microsoft's planned Indigo Web services framework also was touted Tuesday. Using Indigo, a Web service that initially took 50,000 lines of code to build in Visual Studio .Net and 27,000 lines of code in the company's Web services enhancements toolkit will be reduced to three lines, according to Rudder.

Additionally, Microsoft plans to release to developers its internally used Prefast tool for checking buffer overruns. The company also plans to release a Longhorn Server update to Windows Server, planned for release in 2004. Longhorn also is the name of the company's client operating system planned for release in 2006.

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