PDC2008: Introducing BizTalk Express, sorry, Dublin#
Just at a session on BizTalk Express, sorry Dublin…
Dublin is a set of extensions to Web Application Server (WAS) also known as Web Process Activation Server (also WAS) – confused yet?!
Basically, Dublin allows hosting of WCF/WF services/workflows on IIS/WAS.
What it adds though is UIs for Hosting, Messaging, Durability, Correlation, and Tracking
Sound familiar? Yup, all things that BTS provides today.
It’s early days yet – most of the advanced stuff is currently configured via PowerShell scripts, but it shows where they’re going with it.

Persistence is implemented by storing message information in SQL Server.
In the IIS Administration Console, you can look at suspended instances, resume them, cancel them, etc. All stuff that seems very very familiar to a BTS dev.
Correlation and filtering is achieved via XPath statements (no comments on whether it loads the message into a DOM, or whether it supports fast–read-only forward XPath only).

We’ve all received copies of Dublin with our PDC bits – I’ll be keen to see what perf you can achieve under load. I suspect the answer is "not much".
The BTS dev team spent a lot of time tuning the filtering/persistence stuff, and in a lot of ways it seems that the Dublin team are reinventing the wheel here.

One cool thing shown was creating a model in Quadrant (the Oslo modelling tool) and deploying WCF/WF apps from there to Dublin.

More to come as I spend time with Dublin.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 23:10:53 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback


PDC2008: Wow, look Windows 7, it’s so exci… zzzzzzzz#
I’m sorry, is it just me? I just can’t get excited about Windows Vista R2, sorry, Windows 7.

[side note: Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 use v6.0 of the windows kernel. Windows 7 uses v6.1 of the kernel. They’ve also upgraded Windows Server 2008 to use v6.1 – and called this refresh Windows Server 2008 R2… but they’ve called the client refresh Windows 7. Even though it technically is just Vista refreshed with an updated kernel.
I suspect that MS got so burnt with the Vista brand name, that they’ve been forced to re-name it.
But I wonder what the client OS which will contain v7.0 of the kernel will be called. I suspect it won’t be Windows 8!]

So Windows 7 is pretty much Windows Vista with some new features.

And some of them are pretty cool (e.g. reduced resource footprint, improvements in collaborating with connected computers/devices). But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a new OS, or even an evolution – it’s Vista with some new features.
Which is absolutely fine – Microsoft have just managed to stabilize Vista, and are starting to leave the early painful years behind.

For me, the coolest and most useful feature is the ability to boot from a VHD.
Now just stop and think about what that means: there must be a thin layer of bootstrap code which knows how to read a VHD and present to as a physical HDD/Storage Controller to the system.
[Note: yes, Win 7 allows you to create/mount VHDs using DiskManager, but this functionality has been around for a while if you installed Virtual Server, although it was command-line only.]

I imagine this bootstrap code is pretty much the same as for Windows Hyper-V server, which works on a similar principle i.e. booting from images, although Hyper-V does this in a virtualised environment, allowing you to boot multiple VHDs at the same time.

What I’m not clear about is if the VHD must contain an install of Win 7, or whether you can boot any OS install. If the latter, then this is super cool.
(given that there appears to be a VHD HostBusAdapter in Device Manager in Win 7, I suspect it’s the former i.e. Win 7 only VHDs. I hope not.)

What this means for me: I do all of my BizTalk/Services dev in Windows Server 2003/2008. And up to now, this has been done using Virtual PC images (running Vista 64-bit as the host OS).
But now, hopefully, I have the choice of booting my dev VHD, or running it in VPC/Virtual Server/Hyper-V.

And that’s pretty cool.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 18:34:45 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback


PDC2008: New features in C##
Just been to Anders Hejlsberg’s talk on the future of C#, where he outlined what’s coming in C# 4.0 and (some) of what might come in C# 5.0.

Importantly: C# 4.0 focuses on Dynamic Languages (i.e. the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR))  and concurrent programming (i.e. programming for multi-core CPUs).

New in C# 4.0 is support for the attic type dynamic.
This allows you to specify a type which isn’t known until runtime.

Under the hood, it all seems to use the whole Type Invoke mechanism (i.e. reflection, which can be very slooooooow).
Which leads me to wonder: dynamics in C# 4.0 look like they’re cool in certain situations, but you end up with perf-problems, and the possibility for difficult-to-find runtime bugs.

For example, if I typed:
dynamic calc = GetCalculator();
int val = calc.App(2, 10);

Instead of

int val = calc.Add(2, 10);
well.. I won’t know that there is a  bug until I get to that line as it’s dynamically executed
At least, that’s my understanding.
It’ll be interesting to see how they address this.

In C# 5.0, Anders showed how they’re re-writing the C# compiler (csc) in managed code – and allowing you to interact with it from code.
Specifically, he showed how to dynamically generate, compile and execute code.. similar to what CodeDOM does today, but much much cooler.

Monday, 27 October 2008 22:47:56 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback


PDC2008: Microsoft unveils Windows Azure at PDC 2008#
Well, I’m at the Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference) 2008 at the LA Convention Center in LA.

The keynote session is happening at the moment – Ray Ozzie has just announced Windows Azure, the new name for the cloud-services platform (I had heard that they would call is Windows Strata, but there you go!).

Azure look fairly cool, although the development environment is just VS.NET.

What’s new is that they host your services for you, including (in the future) SQL Services i.e. hosting your databases, which will be fairly cool.
When you create an Azure service in VS.NET, and then choose deploy, the service is packaged and you’re taking to the Azure Developers Portal, where the service is uploaded.

Bear in mind that this Microsoft’s answer to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Apps – Microsoft are joining the party late, but I’m hoping that they have learnt something by being able to watch from the sidelines.

I’m also interested in all the Oslo sessions – for those of us in the BizTalk world, Oslo gives us information about what future versions of BizTalk will look like (post BTS 2009).
What’s important to realise is that Oslo is the code name for a whole suite of tools, as opposed to a single product.

I imagine this means that there will be a whole lot of products that come out under the Oslo codename/brand.
Monday, 27 October 2008 19:49:59 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) #    Comments [0]  |  Trackback


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