Microsoft developers looked ahead to Yukon, Whidbey, and Longhorn at a packed Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2003 in Los Angeles this week that featured the release of early code bits and standing-room-only sessions. California wildfires played with flight schedules to PDC, but they didn't stop an estimated 7,000 developers from flooding the Los Angeles Convention Center to learn about the next releases of SQL Server (Yukon), Visual Studio .NET (Whidbey), Windows (Longhorn), Web services (Indigo), and other upcoming technologies.
Longhorn took center stage in Microsoft's first PDC in 2 years, with the long-anticipated Windows File System (WinFS) positioned as the key to increased user productivity and ease of use in the next Windows release, expected in 2006. At his opening keynote Monday morning, Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates highlighted WinFS, a unified storage system based on XML and relational database technology that the SQL Server team has developed. "Some of you here have heard me talk about unified storage for more than a decade," Gates noted. "The idea of taking the XML flexibility, database technology, getting it into the file system--that's been a Holy Grail for me for quite some time. And here it is. ... Thank goodness we have the evolution around XML and user interface capabilities so that this can all come together." Here are some other tidbits from PDC.
Microsoft Vice President for SQL Server Gordon Mangione said that about 2000 people had the private Yukon beta before PDC. PDC attendees received slightly different Yukon code bits, with most of the changes reportedly to help integrate with the Whidbey PDC code bits. (According to Microsoft, the PDC bits are available to MSDN subscribers upon request at no charge and will be shipped to them.) Mangione cited three areas of Yukon focus: enterprise data management, developer productivity, and business intelligence (BI). He said that the crucial Whidbey integration built into Yukon would give data developers the long-overdue tools they need. PDC presenters spoke of Yukon and Whidbey as being "joined at the hip," with Microsoft expecting to synchronize the release of both products. Although Microsoft has been pointing to the end of 2004 for Yukon and Whidbey availability, rumors of slipping deadlines circulated at PDC. Mangione also told SQL Server developers that with Yukon, they wouldn't need to--and shouldn't--write extended stored procedures; instead they should use managed code.
Sessions about the new SQL Server Reporting Services product, which is in beta 2 and scheduled for release before the end of the year, overflowed into hallways. Reporting Services lets you define a report once and render it in a variety of ways, blending traditional production reporting and interactive reporting into one platform for relational, hierarchical, and multidimensional reporting needs. Because of customer demand for the product, Microsoft is releasing the first version as a SQL Server 2000 add-on, but it will build the service into the Yukon release. The Yukon version of Reporting Services will also include functionality that you can embed into WinForms and other clients.
Longhorn will be the biggest Windows release since Windows 95 and the biggest Windows release this decade, according to Gates. Longhorn features three pillars: Presentation (Avalon), Data (featuring WinFS), and Communication (Indigo Web services). Unlike today, where data is trapped in applications, relationships are buried, and shell views are tied to your folder hierarchy, Longhorn's WinFS will provide extensible XML schema, logical views, programmable relationships, synchronization services, and information agents to pull your data together. In addition, Longhorn will usher in a new well-structured programming framework called WinFX, which will introduce XAML, a new declarative markup language for Windows that will separate application code and content.
The next release of Visual Studio .NET will provide a comprehensive and complete development environment that includes deep support for and integration with the data tier. Whidbey is where rapid application development (RAD) meets the database, featuring seamless cross-language debugging and deployment, procedural logic, deep Common Language Runtime (CLR) integration into the SQL Server engine, high performance, and component reuse. Whidbey will introduce flexible and productive data source controls, which will handle your ADO.NET code under the covers, and data bound controls. Whidbey will also introduce SQL paging functionality to walk through large data sets.