Microsoft Visual .NET Studio
The Good News: This new product is designed to enable developers to have easy access to building MS .NET oriented web based programs or services.
The Bad News: Itís based on the C# technology, which means everyone has to go back to school!
Well, itís only a first step, I feel fairly confident that like with Enterprise programs (which are basically internal corporate intranet based client-server programs, which means the large, main program that does a lot of the work sits on the big corporate server down in the basement while users at their desks use a smaller portal to access that big program sitting elsewhere) Microsoft will eventually incorporate easier to use tools in a future edition of Visual BASIC. Which means itís possible that VB 7 may not be fully DOT NET implemented, but VB 8 (if such an animal comes) may have most of the features like VB 6 has with ODBC (Other Data Base Connections), ADO, RDO and DAO (which are data based connectivity protocols).
The C# language is something like Java, which could also mean that Microsoft is giving up on VB script as a potential core language in favor of a programming language that behaves like a cross between C and Java (and Java is very much like C language in code structure). It also means that Sun may really go after Microsoft in the courts, as the intent here is to offer a new internet binding and connectivity protocol (their DOT NET concepts) implemented with an obscure language largely developed by Microsoft.
As a part of the Visual DOT NET Studio Microsoft is also offering free hosting of your programming elements, much like Yahoo did when it introduced the clubs, groups and web-based e-mail services. Itís an enticement to draw hordes of programmers to develop DOT NET processes and programs even though they donít have a web site on which to store these items. Then they can offer these products commercially or via shareware and all sorts of users can then start using DOT NET services, which is Microsoft technology, developed using Microsoft tools and stored on Microsoft server space. Boy, that sounds like another anti-trust lawsuit in the making, doesnít it!
There is nothing illegal about this. SUN can do the same thing, they just have to find another name instead of DOT NET and connect up using their Java tools. Itís a matter of who gets the most business and who can survive on the market share that results. Thatís capitalism in action!
Anyway, itís still unclear what the DOT NET world is going to look like in five years. It may not take off (Microsoft has flopped before) and if it does not even Microsoft knows what it will truly look like Ė all that they care about is that people are creating it using their tools, their language, their protocols and for the here and now on their web space. It makes them the leader in a new field.
From what Iíve seen DOT NET is a process by which the providers of goods and services can bypass playing twenty questions with prospective users, instead what they do is hook up to the Microsoft DOT NET information bank which already has a whole bunch of confidential information on the user or client. It has their name, the address, their phone number and in the future who knows what other information it will have. The DOT NET connected site then only needs collect some one time information they may require, such as a credit card number for purchases. So, if you have never used, say, Amazon.com before and you are DOT NET and they are DOT NET, all you need do is provide access to your Microsoft DOT NET information and give them what books you want and a credit card number. No name, address, etc. It makes purchasing a book literally as simple as ONE, TWO and THREE.
Using Visual .NET Studio, a company like Dominoís Pizza can build a new web site with a small little applet that you can download, much like Yahoo Instant Messenger. You given them your DOT NET info, your credit card number and then you download an on-line menu from them. If you want a pizza you simply put a check mark into a box, that is updated over the internet showing the current Dominoís specials, that that get two medium pepperoni for the price of one shows up on your little Dominoís applet. You check the box, press send, maybe a token comes back looking for your secret password, you enter this into a secure server connection and in 20 minutes your pizza gets delivered.
Want to do your taxes? Simply give Uncle Sam your DOT NET access, enter the gross pay, the amount of taxes withheld and if you have no deductions enter your secret account number and press SEND. They give you back a receipt token and your taxes are done.
These are just the fantasies I can see in my mind, as I say no one still knows what shape or form web based software will become but the idea behind the DOT NET concept is to help make it easier to conduct business by enabling programmers and businesses to create their own custom DOT NET tools that donít even have to use the Microsoft DOT NET information bank. A business can create their own information bank on their own secure server. Microsoft has simply created the protocols to thread computers to big servers via the internet, just like they currently do at the Fortune 500 office!
As I said, as with RDO and ADO data base connections this means back to school or at least to the Microsoft seminars to learn all the secrets of the DOT NET operating protocols. But anyone interested in using them is going to be stuck doing it in C# for the here and now, which means the C+ and Java programmers will have more of an edge on this technology than Visual BASIC programmers, but I donít think this programming gap will exist for a long time. Microsoft is merely giving the top end programmers the first shot at DOT NET and I anticipate that down the line they will deliver an easier to use flavor of this to the kitchen sink programming force (who have the power to turn DOT NET technology into a real presence with their freeware and shareware) at some point in time....