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In This Issue
1. Developer .NET Perspectives
3. New and Improved
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Developer .NET Perspectives
Last week in San Diego, Microsoft held TechEd 2004. The event was a sell out. In fact, many people who had hoped to get tickets at the last minute were disappointed when the local fire marshal locked down the number of attendees.
Most of the TechEd speakers concentrated on how to leverage the tools available to developers and administrators today. For example, there were many informative sessions covering tools that are just reaching their initial implementation phases--tools such as Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004, and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003.
However, a few speakers, including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, discussed what's coming in the future. In his keynote speech, Ballmer announced the development of Visual Studio Team System.
Team System is a catchall for a variety of new features that Microsoft is bundling into Visual Studio 2005 (formerly codenamed Whidbey). These features include Whitehorse (a fifth-generation language--5GL--development engine), new project-management features, new team-based development features, and even new testing features. These new features are still a long way off, so I'll cover them in detail closer to their actual release. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about them, check out the following URLs:
Although interesting, such forward-looking discussions don't help you leverage existing tools today. Fortunately, TechEd featured several practical sessions for developers. One session that I attended focused on migrating Visual Basic (VB) 6.0 applications to .NET applications. This session touched on not only Visual Studio .NET's migration function but also another tool that you can use: the Visual Basic 6.0 Code Advisor. But before I discuss the Code Advisor, let's look at why developers should migrate to the .NET environment if they haven't already done so.
For a variety of reasons, many developers are still working on COM-based applications. Perhaps they just haven't had the time to switch to the .NET environment or they've stuck with COM-based applications because of technical requirements. No matter the reason, these developers need to start considering how to move into the .NET world. Here's why: Aside from future software enhancements, the fact is that hardware is starting the transition to 64-bit processor platforms, such as Intel's Itanium (formerly code-named Merced). Admittedly, a large part of the current market acceptance is based on the AMD 64-bit Athlon processor, which is oriented toward compatibility with 32-bit applications. Nevertheless, if you remember the pain of transitioning from 16-bit applications to 32-bit applications, you'll likely be looking for the easiest way to make the transition to 64-bit applications.
Visual Studio 2005 can help ease this transition because it provides support for 64-bit processors within the Windows .NET Framework. In Visual Studio 2005, you'll be able to build a .NET application that you can run in either 64-bit or 32-bit mode, with Microsoft managing the plumbing between environments. For that reason, you should consider migrating to Visual Studio 2005.
Making the Migration Easy
If you're like most developers, you probably won't want to manually recreate all your projects when you're migrating your VB 6.0 applications to .NET. Fortunately, you can leverage the power of the Visual Basic .NET Upgrade Wizard to automatically transition your code. Unfortunately, if you've used the Upgrade Wizard, you know that it tends to have problems with Variants and other elements commonly found in code. This is where the Visual Basic 6.0 Code Advisor can help.
Code Advisor is a VB 6.0 add-on that Microsoft released in January 2003. The Code Advisor evaluates projects and provides comments similar to those that the Upgrade Wizard would add. However, you get to see those comments BEFORE you migrate. The result is that you can discover and address any problems before migrating and plan your migration accordingly.
Even if you aren't planning to migrate your code, the Code Advisor can still be a valuable resource because it can help you write cleaner, more consistent code. Clean, consistent code runs faster and is easier to maintain. To download the Code Advisor, go to:
What Microsoft now needs to provide is a version of the Code Advisor for the migration from Visual Studio .NET to Visual Studio 2005. Visual Studio 2005 has many new controls not currently supported in Visual Studio .NET including new browser and grid controls. Having such a tool would help developers prepare code for Visual Studio 2005 now, as opposed to having to wait for the release, then trying to fix any problems. After all, even the best migrations aren't effort free. Even if 95 percent of an application is automatically converted, having to manually convert 5 percent of an application that took 10 full-time developers a year to create still equates to a lot of work.
As I mentioned previously, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussed future developments in his keynote speech at TechEd. Besides announcing the development of Visual Studio Team System, he announced the release of a new version of Web Services Enhancements--WSE 2.0. An add-on to Visual Studio .NET, WSE 2.0 provides a new layer of capabilities for Web services. With WSE 2.0, you can get in position for not only Visual Studio 2005 but also Windows Longhorn and Orcas (a new version of Visual Studio that will be designed to take advantage of Longhorn's features). In my next column, I'll discuss WSE 2.0 in more detail.
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Expert forum member RichLich has been experiencing numerous problems since migrating to the Microsoft .NET Framework Redistributable. The problems include logon failures with ASP.NET and event ID 36 and 10004 errors in the System log. (He's running Windows 2000 Server, Service Pack 4--SP4.) If you've been having similar problems with the .NET Framework Redistributable, go to the following URL:
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New and Improved
SoftArtisans released OfficeWriter 2.0, a Web-reporting tool that delivers real Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Word documents over the Web without the need for Microsoft Office. This tool now features a native .NET version of ExcelWriter (the Excel reporting solution) and improved functionality in WordWriter (the Word generation tool). You can use OfficeWriter 2.0 as a stand-alone solution that can generate more than 100,000 reports per hour or as a complement to your current business intelligence tool. In third quarter 2004, OfficeWriter will be integrated with SQL Server Reporting Services. OfficeWriter 2.0 is a cross-platform product for Active Server Pages (ASP), ASP.NET, and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE). Contact SoftArtisans at 617-738-0777, 877-763-8278, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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