Microsoft readies Oslo previews

Microsoft this October will launch Community Technology Previews of the three primary components of its Oslo project for model-driven software development, a company official said at the TechEd 2008 conference in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday.

These components include a modeling tool, a repository, and a declarative programming language, said Steven Martin, director of product management for the Microsoft Connected Systems Division. The CTPs will be offered concurrently with the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, held October 27-30 in Los Angeles.

With Oslo, first detailed by Microsoft last fall, the company is looking to refocus application development to have models themselves become applications. Collaboration is a critical focus as well.

"Right now, you've got the ability to collaborate on application development within technical roles and business analysts also collaborate on design using Visio and collaboration tools," Martin said. "What we want to get to is a world where people in lots of roles both technical and non-technical can collaborate on design."

Oslo-based models will maintain deployment information such as system resources allocated to an application as well as information on service-level agreements. "We want to start capturing all the information that you need to run and manage an application in the model," Martin said.

The declarative language is intended to leverage declarative concepts to make it easier to customize applications and reduce the need to write code. It is to be used within Visual Studio and the BizTalk integration platform.

The repository, based on Microsoft's SQL Server database, will provide a single view of an application across different products, such as Visual Studio Team System application lifecycle management platform, Microsoft System Center, and BizTalk.

"We're going to get the same view. We want to eliminate the import-export, the moving around of the application," Martin said. The repository helps to unify multiple repositories across Microsoft products.

The modeling tool will be a graphical tool for building any kind of application. It will feature schema design and be leveraged by Microsoft products such as Visual Studio and BizTalk.

Microsoft has not aired general release dates for its Oslo technologies. But the company believes Oslo has more of an appeal than rival technologies from IBM.

"We're going to appeal to a much broader cross section of the end users. We think this will have mass appeal," Martin said. "IBM products tend to serve very specialized-role people within Fortune 1000 companies." Also at TechEd, company officials noted plans to support Unified Modeling Language (UML) in the planned "Rosario" release of Visual Studio Team System. Microsoft previously has not been a major advocate of UML.

"We continue to work with folks in the industry and we've always believed that there are multiple ways to do modeling," said Norman Guadagno, Microsoft director of product marketing for Visual Studio Team System. "We've seen that UML is a terrific solution for that logical layer modeling."

Microsoft's backing for UML is based on customer feedback and the fact that the technology solves a problem, Guadagno said.

Microsoft at the conference also released a second beta version of its Silverlight 2 browser plug-in technology for rich Internet applications. The company also scheduled a discussion on the differences between Silverlight and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

While acknowledging Silverlight is Microsoft's own proprietary technology and not standards-based like AJAX, Microsoft's Dave Mendlen, director for developer tools marketing, said Silverlight offers a richer experience, such as the ability to stream video.

Microsoft also plans to release its Sync Framework in the third quarter of this year. Sync is intended to enable the moving of different types of content, such as data, music, and files, between systems. The technology will be offered as a separate download for the SQL Server 2008 database and be available for licensing by non-Microsoft platforms.

The company at TechEd announced a CTP of Sync is available for the Windows Mobile platform.

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