The last few months were a bit hectic if you stayed tuned to announcements coming from Microsoft regarding new products. It honestly looks like some folks down in Redmond haven’t seen home for a while.
Even though I don’t agree with the need for some of these new products, I think it’s a great thing that the .NET Framework is becoming even bigger than it used to be and we, as a result, get more options. Good!
So what’s new?
May – IIS Developer Express
This is a web server that’s aimed to reduce the amount of unexpected surprises when moving a web application from the ASP.NET Development Server (“Cassini”) to a real IIS Server. It does that by combining features from both servers and giving you a server that’s on the one hand, easy to use and develop on and on the other hand, has a full web server feature set.
Further reading: IIS Developer Express overview, Scott Gu’s blog post
June – SQL Server CE 4
SQL Server CE (Compact Edition) is Microsoft’s free embedded database engine. On version 4 it can, for the first time, work inside an ASP.NET application. This is pretty cool because now you can use it for web sites with a small database instead of messing around with XML files or purchasing an SQL Server hosting.
By the way, this is not a new concept. You could’ve done this before using SQLite, for instance.
Further reading: SQL Server Compact Team’s blog post, Scott Gu’s blog post
July – The Razor View Engine for ASP.NET MVC
For those of you who’re into ASP.NET MVC, Microsoft released a new and cool view engine named Razor. Razor will be a part of ASP.NET MVC 3 and will join to the default web form view engine and the open source view engines – Spark and NHaml.
It provides a minimalistic way of writing views by massively using the at sing (@). I strongly recommend you to check out Scott Gu’s blog post about it to get the feeling of how it’s gonna be.
I believe this view engine will slowly move up to the top of the charts and eventually become the most popular view engine in the ASP.NET MVC world. That’s my take on it at least.
Further reading: Scott Gu’s blog post, Inside Razor Part 1, Inside Razor Part 2, Inside Razor Part 3
July – WebMatrix
This is a web development tool which is targeted mostly to beginners and non-Microsoft developers. By using templates, you’ll be able to create web applications in no-time and without understanding what you’re doing too much.
It’s not really my cup of tea but I guess a lot of people will find it very handy.
Further reading: Official site, Learning materials, Scott Gu’s blog post
August – Visual Studio LightSwitch
LightSwitch is a tool for creating LOB applications without writing any code (unless you need special customization). The result application has a database and uses Silverlight 4 for its UI.
Everything is wizard and designer based in LightSwitch which makes it perfect for beginners (not sure about the others).
Trying it out took me back about 10-15 years to when MS-Access Forms were prospering. I’ll let you decide.
Further reading: Somasegar’s announcement of LightSwitch, LightSwitch Developer Center, Official Site
August – IronRuby Mess
Well, that’s not a new product actually… But I thought it was worth mentioning here (I’ll let you figure out yourself why I care :-) ). At the beginning of August, the project manager of IronRuby left Microsoft and posted a blog post which kind of set a firestorm on twitter, the blogosphere and I guess internally in Microsoft as well. There were no new news since then, the project is not dead but it is advancing very slow…
Further reading: Jimmy Schementi’s blog post, My take on the situation, Microsoft’s official response
September – Internet Explorer 9 Beta
Microsoft has been slowly losing its dominance in the browser world to FireFox and new kid in the block – Google Chrome. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s attempt to get back into the game and get these lost percentage back. The beta showcases nice performance improvements, great usage of the computer hardware to display complex graphics and full HTML5 compatibility.
Further reading: Test Drive site, Guide for developers, IE Team blog
September – Web Farm Framework 2.0 Beta
The Web Farm Framework, aka WFF, simplifies the provisioning and deployment of web server infrastructure. The idea here is that you configure everything you need on a single server (called the primary server) and then use WFF to replicate and provision the exact same configuration across all of the other web servers in the farm.
Further reading: Official documentation, Scott Gu’s post
September – Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools
Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s try to close the gap with Google Android and Apple’s iPhone mobile platforms. I’ve heard people saying it’s going to fail miserably and heard others saying it’s gonna be a huge success. I honestly have no idea what will happen – on the one hand, it does look like a cool platform but on the other hand, it might be too little too late… time will tell, I guess.
Anyway, this developer tools package includes everything you need to write Windows Phone applications. Even though the actual device is not publicly available at the moment, you will still be able to use the included emulator to write applications.
By the way, the official release date for Windows Phone 7 devices is very soon - October 11th.
Further reading: Windows Phone Development Center, Scott Gu’s blog post, Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Release Date Confirmed
October – ASP.NET MVC 3 Beta
ASP.NET MVC 3 is the next version of ASP.NET MVC. It will include various new features and improvements, making this framework much more mature and ready for mass-usage.
It seems to me that version 3 will finally allow ASP.NET MVC to compete with other popular MVC web frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
Join the party people, MVC is the sane way of writing web applications today (until someone comes up with a better approach).
Further reading: Phil Haack’s blog post, ASP.NET MVC 3 Beta release notes, ASP.NET MVC 3 Road Map
October – NuPack
This one was a total surprise for me… I haven’t seen it coming at all. NuPack is Microsoft’s new packaging system, aimed to ease the process of finding and installing .NET libraries. This is a great addition to the .NET world and something I, personally, have been wishing for. This is very new and I hope it gets adopted by the .NET community. The sooner the better!
This is not a new concept. It has been around for years in the Ruby world (RubyGems) and in the Perl world (CPAN).
I also recommend you to watch the OpenWrap project which is an open-source package manager for .NET currently developed by Sebastien Lambla.
Further reading: Official site, Scott Gu’s blog post, Scott Hanselman’s blog post, Phill Haack’s blog post
I’m sure I missed some products but you get the idea – they’re on fire! 10 new releases in 6 months!
In conclusion, I think it’s good that as .NET developers, we now get more options to choose from and more mature tools to work with.
My wish for the future is that apart from Microsoft making the .NET world better, we will also see the community making the .NET world better with awesome open-source projects.
All the best,