Web Platform and Tools Product Management– who we are, what we do now, and a place for you to tell us what to do

A lot has changed over the last five months for me and I wanted to tell let you all know, my reading faithful what has been going on.  Then, I want to ask you to provide us with feedback about what you want us to do to make your lives easier for the next twelve months.  We are in the middle of FY07 planning (Microsoft fiscal year runs July 1àJune 30th) where we make all of our budgeting plans and tactics for the year.


In November, I took on a new role here at Microsoft.  It wasn’t a big change, but instead of just being the Product Manager for ASP.NET, VWD and “Atlas,” I took on a broader team that I affectionately call Web Platform and Tools Product Management.  It is probably a bit of a misnomer, but our groups charter is to ensure that Web Developers have the best possible experience building and delivering applications of all types on the Web using Microsoft technology or the Microsoft Web Platform.  This includes product management for:



And a handful of other incubation efforts related to the Web like dynamic languages, web community, etc.


As of today, my team consists of:


Keith Smith (ASP.NET, Web Tools, and “Atlas”)

Sanjoy Sarkar (ASP.NET breadth community and outreach)

Eric Woersching (IIS and Shared Hosting) [he’ll be starting a blog soon is my guess J]

TBH (Commerce Server)

TBH (Internet Explorer) [I need to write the JD still and open the req, let me know if you are interestedJ]


Over the past year we’ve been responsible for delivering a lot of great content and resources that we see you all using on a regular basis including the CSS Adapters, How Do I Videos, learn2asp.net, provider toolkit, ASP v ASP.NET Comparisons (just soft-launched), ASP v ASP.NET Productivity Study (new too!), the ASP.NET 2.0 Starter Kits, all our community efforts (www.asp.net, atlas.asp.net, etc.), a bunch of IIS related stuff that you will be seeing come online with Vista Beta 2 (very very soon!), lots of whitepaper content on MSDN, the ASP.NET Design Templates and a whole bunch more.


But the big QUESTION for you all is what else do you want?  What else do you need?  I want to hear it all, product feedback, content feedback, materials for your boss, friends, developer materials, everything.  No holds barred, your feedback will help me prioritize some of my team’s efforts and spend for FY07.  Tell everyone you know – keep the feedback coming.


Some things we are looking at already are:

Extending the CSS Adapters

Formalizing the ASP.NET design center

Tons of “Atlas” related resources

More HowDoI videos

A complete www.asp.net overhaul

Tons of content to support IIS7

Integrating more projects into the new codeplex.com site (like starter kits, “atlas” control toolkit, etc.)


Help us grow the list!


Also, if you love web standards, know the browser market inside and out, have a deep understanding of Web development from ASP and ASP.NET to PHP and Java and what to help make a difference with Internet Explorer, send me your resume, I’m HIRING! (more info on jobs coming in a few weeks)




Comments (29)
  1. scottt40 says:

    My wish list:

    -Provide a starter community site that utilizes the masterpage, themes, and security model for asp.net 2.0.  It would also be great if it utilzed Atlas.

    -Provide a control for creating a simple bar graph using the asp.net 2.0 dataproviders. Nothing fancy to upset the charter folks, just something to play with. $600+ for a charting tool for a simple 2d bar graph is a bit much for the hobbyist.

    -Work on the Mobile Web Development tools and provide way more help, webcasts, and walkthroughs for this technology.

    -Keep up the great work with Atlas, and come out with a release version with an indepth webcast. Possibly in combination with the Community Starter Kit mentioned earlier.

    Thanks for all the great work. Without asp.net 2.0 I would not be able to write datacentric site with membership.  Keep up the great work!


  2. Parag says:


    WAT ( Web Amin Tool ) is the most preferred tool for managing all online activities for memberships and providers. It currently supports only offline, it should be made possible for supporting online also. This is the most required tool.

    Profiles provider should be incorporated within WAT, in some way.

    More starterkits, with CSS/ATLAS support with detailed white papers is a must at this stage. More details on Web Designer ( Expression Tools ) should be provided and atleast few Starterkits that works with Beta version of Web Designer should be given to the community. This will help to know more about web designer with live working examples.

    After all, WEB DESIGNER is everyones dream for the future.



  3. Steve says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    I don’t know how much control you have over the integration of unit testing within the products – but I was/is HIGHLY disapointed that unit testing integration was only included in the team visual studio products.

    This sends the wrong message.

    I hope you are able to have the vision to see that unit testing should be a part of ALL the VS products lines and not just a ‘team’ functionality.

  4. genium says:

    Position and its instant communication to others will be all pervasive if you wish ubliquitous…just like time is…and just like time governs the present life of ordinary citizens, so will the position and its instant communication to others.

    – So, i need native localization library to query radio-navigation systems (GPS and Galileo, interoperability scheduled between the two… see egnos signals too)…

    – Merge Microsoft Live strategies (Live.com …) with mahups, gadgets, Atlas framework…

    – Hosting services from Microsoft (IIS/SQL/ASP.NET 2.0/Atlas…)

    -Think about xForms implementation (W3C Recommendation) and work with W3C on its Mobile Web Initiative…

    – apart from that, i like the scottt40 wish list:-)

    christophe from France …my english is so bad;-)

  5. genium says:

    Position and its instant communication to others will be all pervasive if you wish ubliquitous…just like time is…and just like time governs the present life of ordinary citizens, so will the position and its instant communication to others.

    – So, i need native localization library to query radio-navigation systems (GPS and Galileo, interoperability scheduled between the two… see egnos signals too)…

    – Merge Microsoft Live strategies (Live.com …) with mahups, gadgets, Atlas framework…

    – Hosting services from Microsoft (IIS/SQL/ASP.NET 2.0/Atlas…)

    -Think about xForms implementation (W3C Recommendation) and work with W3C on its Mobile Web Initiative…

    – apart from that, i like the scottt40 wish list:-)

    christophe from France …my english is so bad;-)

  6. Darren Sher says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if there was some more synergy between Smart Client development paradigms and web development?

    For those of us dealing with web applications rather than sites, mashups etc. we are still lacking tools and development patterns that make application development as straight forward as it should be. Desktop application development over WinForms just makes life much easier than it is in the ASP.net world.

    This is not to say that ASP.net hasn’t made huge strides in productivity and structure, but even Microsoft agrees Smart Clients (WinForms) have their place in this world.

    Basically I’d like to see Microsoft doing something like a tool I’ve seen called "Visual WebGui" which tries to merge the WinForms development scheme with an AJAX, zero-footpring client that renders the server-based GUI components on the browser.

    Again, the ultimate progress will be to marry the best of all development paradigms to create a "deploy anywhere" type solution which doesn’t force us to choose between zero footprint and "smart/thick client".

    Just a thought.

  7. Garth H says:

    I second the "More info on Mobile Web Developement Tools" info.

    Keep the Starter kits coming, as well as examples of how to extend them.

    I don’t think I personally could ask for much more as I already feel like I’m drinking from the firehose.

  8. cisakson says:

    Enterprise, Enterprise, Enterprise

    I want to see more tools and guidance for creating ASP.NET applications that do not fit drag and drop datasets everywhere development.  

    I want to be able to have less pain dealing with rich object models in a stateless environment.  It would be great if both Session and Cache could be shared or real time balanced across a web farm.

    I want to see more involved Windows Workflow examples with ASP.NET.

    I want to be able to build a WebSite project that has File System based references using Team Build.

    I want IIS 7.0 and beyond to run on Windows 2003, XP , and Vista.  Treat IIS as a stand alone hosting service and stop coupling it to an OS.

    I want to see some examples on creating simple ASP.NET UI’s that are lightweight forms with their business logic in external components and WorkFlow’s.

    Finally, I’d like to see more on developing ASP.NET application using TDD principles and practices.

    Thanks for all the great work so far!

  9. bgold says:

    This is great feedback and ideas — keep it coming.. we are documenting 🙂

  10. Dan B. says:

    ASP .NET 2.0 made great steps toward proper cross browser compatibility, being far less IE-centric than it’s predecessor. Likewise the recently released CSS Adapters show a good commitment toward rendering clean, valid and accessible (X)HTML. Knowing all this, I was very disappointed to note that, as of yet, ATLAS fails miserably to be truly cross-browser compatible.

    Whilst I appreciate AJAX is at the cutting edge of web development there really is no good reason at all why, for instance, AJAX does not work AT ALL on the Opera browser. Other AJAX implementations work fine and if Google Maps can work without issue on Opera then so too should AJAX. I realise ATLAS is still in beta so I hope my plea for the widest compatibility possible will be heard. Professional web developers simply cannot afford to create sites that do not work on a significant proportion of browsers or that do not render accessible, valid mark-up. So, please keep striving toward browser-agnostic code that does not arbitrarily discriminate. Thanks 🙂

  11. My big thing at the moment is more Atlas — more docs, more examples, more real-world scenarios and solutions. This would be particularly useful for the Control Toolkit.

  12. Aleksey says:

    I played with the latest beta of the Expression Web Designer. Looks like FrontPage. It does not add anything comparing with Visual Studio 2005, 99% overlap, just uses templates instead of master pages and themes. I don’t understand how it is better than what we have now, and don’t see a way and a point in combining templates with master pages/themes. Do you really need to create another incompatible tool for web development?

  13. Aleksey says:

    Regarding Atlas: the most important thing – reliability in real world, not cool features. I don’t need anything out of it if it breaks in some scenarios/browsers.

  14. Wayne Smith says:

    Aleksey, Expression Web Designer is aimed at the professional design market, not Visual Studio users so even if there is overlap, of which there will of course be some, designers do not ordinarily use Visual Studio. Having said that, EWD has many additional capabilities in the area of visual CSS design that designers will love.

    Templates, as it dynamic web templates and master pages are two alternative methods of designing sites. "Incompatible tool for web development" – on the contrary, EWD is very compatible with all the modern web standards that people strive to adhere to…

  15. Zubair.NET! says:

    Hi Brian,

    I have been reading your blog for a while now — my company is concerned about the "stability" of the new ASP.NET 2.0 platform. We are currently developing 1.1 apps — I would like to see some "material for the boss" or "material for the company" probably more case-studies, and probably a "ASP.NET 1.1 and ASP.NET 2.0 Productivity Study", more starter kits and more Design templates.

  16. keiths says:

    Wow, lots of great feedback and comments have piled up. I’ll begin responding to the comments I have some insight on as time permits.  Starting from the top…

    In response to scott40:

    We do have plans to create new and update existing starter kits for VS specifically to showcase Atlas and more of the ASP.NET 2.0 features.  The existing Personal Web Site Starter Kit is a very good sample of integrating of masterpages, themes and membership/roles (security).

    Regarding simple charting behavior, you should check out Carlos’ WebChart Control for ASP.NET.  I think it will provide much of what you need at no cost.  Carlos is a member of the ASP.NET development team so, while this control is not officially supported by Microsoft, you can have confidence in the implementation and maintenance.  See the following link:


    For mobile web development tools are you asking for better tools support with Visual Studio?  Can you give me some specific features you would like to see?

    Atlas webcasts are very high on our community engagement list.  Look for more training content to be produced and made available online over the next few months.  Check out Joe Stagner’s blog to see what he has planned around this area in his new role:



  17. keiths says:


    The Web Development Tools team (which owns Visual Web Developer and WAT) is investigating its plans for WAT for the next release of Visual Studio.  Due to security issues, the ASP.NET 2.0/VS2005 version of WAT is for local development only.  Furthermore, most hosters provide their own control panels for manipulating and configuring deployed Web applications.

    You will definitely see and hear more from us regarding Expression Web Designer and Visual Studio 2005 workflow including tutorials and how-to videos.

  18. keiths says:


    I understand your disappointment and frustration with the business decision to use the unit testing functionality  to differentiate the lower-end editions of Visual Studio from the upper-end.  The unit testing features are awesome and anyone serious about Web sites with maintainable quality or using test-driven development would definitely benefit whether doing team development or as a single-person shop.

    While the integrated unit testing generators, designers and reporting are currently only available in the "Visual Studio Team Edition for Testers" and "Visual Studio Team Suite" products, there is nothing precluding an enterprising developer from writing unit tests manually with the other VS products.  It’s not integrated, true, but it is possible with a little effort.

  19. keiths says:


    I’m not sure I follow your request for a GPS localization library and how it relates to Microsoft’s web platform.  Are you requesting a .NET API?

    Windows & Office Live are platforms that can and do benefit from technologies and frameworks like mash-ups, Gadgets and Atlas.  At MIX we showed how easy it is to build a Microsoft Gadget with Atlas that can be hosted on http://www.live.com.  http://www.live.com itself is a mash-up that uses the Atlas client script core.  Another site you may find interesting is http://preview.local.live.com/ which also uses Atlas at its core.

    Microsoft has been working with many of our hosting partners to make web hosting using our platform simple and cost-effective.  Check out http://asp.net/Hosters/ for more information.



  20. keiths says:

    Dan B.:

    Browser compatibility has been central to the Atlas execution plan from the start.  Our support for Firefox is on par with IE and Safari support is not too far behind.  What level, if any, of support we will have for Opera as we get closer to shipping Atlas is still being discussed as it will have a direct effect on what other features get cut or postponed.

    In short: We hear you and will do what makes sense for the majority of developers and end-users factoring in the trade-offs.


  21. keiths says:

    Jeffrey McManus:

    More Atlas goodies is at the top of my list for our FY07 planning.  You can expect new samples, new docs, new tutorials, new videos and more controls courtesy of the Atlas Control Toolkit.

    The engineering team is focused on getting Atlas into your hands as quickly as possible and we product managers will do everything we can to make it easier for new and existing ASP.NET developers to learn how to Atlas-enable their sites.

  22. keiths says:


    I think it’s great that your company has adopted v1.1 (thank you!) and are planning a migration/upgrade to v2.0.

    I would love to hear what issues you and your company is seeing that is leading to the "stability" concerns with ASP.NET 2.0.  Many of the most popular and most visited sites are running ASP.NET 2.0 today and have been running it for some time.  This includes http://www.microsoft.com/, http://www.msn.com/, and http://www.asp.net/.

    ASP.NET 2.0 released just a few months ago and I’m sure you will see more case studies comparing it to v1.1 and other web application frameworks.  In the interim, if you’re really looking for some compelling "material for the boss" regarding ASP.NET scalability and stability, send this link:


    While we don’t currently have any plans for comparing v1.1 to v2.0 there are so many productivity enhancements and technical advancements in the new version that allows developers to build even more complex, standards-based, feature-rich sites with fewer lines of code.  Off the top of my head:

    – Membership & Role Management

    – Login controls

    – Master Pages

    – Profile service

    – Themes & Skins

    – Web Parts portal framework

    – Built-in ASP.NET Development Server*

    – Data source controls and enhanced data-binding

    – Adaptive rendering

    – XHTML control rendering & XHTML validation*

    – The list goes on…

    * = requires Visual Web Developer or Visual Studio 2005


  23. Marc Brooks says:

    1) Fix ObjectDataSource to properly support object resurection from (e.g. instead of always doing an Activator.CreateInstance) when using DataObjectType.

    2) CSS Adapters for GridView, DetailsView, FormView, and WebParts.

    3) Atlas Control Toolkit updates for Validator extenders, Formatted input extenders.

    4) Make http://www.asp.net source (the site itself) downloadable.

  24. Steve says:

    Please give an option in the current web application (not the one ScottGu has put out) project to be prompted to add files to a project rather than just add whatever is in the folder.  Include this ability in the publish.

    I have a folder – ie. Uploads – I don’t want that folder and it’s underlying content in my VS 2005 project (and also it get’s put in VSS) automatically.  Additionally, this renders the ‘publish’ feature null and void because if I publish that folder then I’ll be overwriting uploads on my production website.

    (I don’t goto ScottGu’s new project solution because I still want to deploy on a per file basis rather than an entire dll, etc…)


    I’ve sent an email regarding the testing request earlier.  I’m still miffed that I have a PROFESSIONAL version of VS 2005 that doesn’t include the testing features.  TDD isn’t just for enterprise developers – it is something used by ALL developers.  Again, I’m very annoyed by this decision, as it shows the team is out of touch with what developers are doing.


    Continue to provide development support for you applications within VS 2005.  I see MCMS and other products are featuring this.  I just did a Sharepoint 2003 setup for a customer and I was majorly disapointed that Frontpage was the product and the so called templates for the SPP.  What a disaster – I’ve never seen such mangled html in my life!  I pray that Sharepoint 2007 will be a totally different application that doesn’t require or even mention the words Sharepoint or Expression.


    Speaking of Expression – just add the CSS capability to VS 2005.  This is where VS 2005 should be at.  Stop adding inline styles.  When I select some text and make it bold  – add it to a CSS not to the html (I know I’m lazy, but it’s all the extra steps that use up all the customer’s money to have me there). Don’t make inline styles the default.  Prompt the user "what external css file would you like" and write all styles into that file by DEFAULT!


    Speaking of CSS – this new release of CSS adapters : are there any better tutorials out there?


    Atlas – I love it.  Great stuff.  The Atlas Control Toolkit – well, it’s ok – it’s a start.  But can we get some controls that would work for those of us building real applications?  ie. I’d love to see a masked textbox in my Atlas toolkit.


    Validation controls:  Great start, but I hope to see more advanced validation controls.  First off – the checkboxlist needs a validator that works for senario’s like ‘confirmation that 2 out of the 5 were checked’.  Saying a custom validator doesn’t work with checkboxlist when you fire up the page to test it (it let’s you put a checkboxlist control in the validatecontrol property but then throws an error when you fire up the page) is a problem.  I thought the whole point of custom validator was to put your own validation – why would it care if you pointed it to a checkboxlist?  This makes it more difficult to write the javascript function that uses args and source.  Speaking of which – a more complex custom validator that let you assign multiple controls and had a signature of source[] array in javascript would allow a much richer validator without writing a ton of extra javascript.

    Did I say Atlas was great?  🙂  The update panels.  Although, I still don’t know why a ‘update progress’ control can’t be assigned to an update panel.  ie. If I have multiple panels on a page, not all of them get the ‘Please wait…searching….’ just the search part.

    Please include a drop panel object that fires an event on drop with an event to be handled.  Would be really nice to have drag and drop built into the Treeview.


    Speaking of Treeview – can we have the Treeview, menu, etc… bind to an objectdatasource and not just an xmldatasource?  I don’t put stuff in xml files – the database is better for me.


    Please separate the table adapter from the actual entity object in a dataset.  My snobbish developer friends cringe when they see me referencing the dataset this way.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love the ability to drag a stored proc from my sql window to the dataset and have it generate all that code (I smile even more when I drag the gridview on the page and use an objectdatasource to point to the table adapter – beautiful).  I just ask that you let me separate it into the correct layers.  I like the partial classes to inject my business logic into the adapter calls.

    Speaking of which – it would be nice to have functions in there that don’t goto a data source.  Perhaps instead tell it to point to a List<>  instead of a data source ?

    Not sure if IIS 7 has this – but I need a way to ‘export’ a website or virtual directory out of one instance of IIS into another.  This would be far better than trying to duplicate all the security, etc.. when I need to move a project from one IIS on a server to another.  Especially if I have developed my code on a VM instance.

    Give an option on VS 2005 and VSS so that when another developer pulls down the project, instead of locking the referenced dll’s from projects in the solution instead they aren’t included.  When someone pulls the solution from source safe – VS tries to checkout the referenced dll’s rather than see that when the developer builds the project it needs to built it – not pull it from sourcesafe.  (I think this problem stems from the problem I have above).

    Lastly – put some focus on building good Business objects rather than concentrate so much on just UI stuff.  Perhaps some ORM tools, as well as little things like generating getters and setters properties by selecting a group of private member variables.  There is so much in this area of development that VS could help provide.

    Glad to see the team is taking feedback on this stuff – I think it’s important – I like how ScottGu operates – and the way the team is releasing CTP’s for items like Atlas really help keep the community engaged.  Also – keep posting the ‘how to’ video’s.  

  25. Steve says:

    I got to thinking about my ‘makes building Business objects’ better in VS 2005.

    I’ve seen several articles comparing the typed dataset and a business object.

    I think this is because in VS 2005 it’s one of the only ways to create objects in the designer based on xml schemas (right?).

    So, my idea would be:

    1. you create your class library

    2. in addition to have an add ‘typed dataset’ from the add item menu – you have add ‘business object’ choice.

    3. optional, but nice: ask the developer if they want to use a template, include in the product a few templates – ie. base them off the GOF patterns – so the developer could select ‘abstract factory pattern’ and the business object would have a template that the developer could build off of rather than from scratch.

    4. Separate the object into two parts as an option:

    a. the value object (see sample below, ie. Person object)

    b. the business/collection object (see below, ie. People object)

    5. Allow for creating the value object using a very similiar interface for that typed dataset uses – ie. adding ‘fields’ of types – the tool would produce the corresponding private member and it’s public property in the class.

    6. Have the business object include a List<> of that value object to act upon with your typical functions.

    ie. I want a business object to hold a class Person.

    the tool would help generate a Person object with the private member _firstName and a property with a get/set FirstName.

    In a separate object that references the Person class is a ‘People’ class.  This includes a List<Person> with the common AddPerson,  DeletePerson, UpdatePerson, bare bone functions as a template that you can then add an specific logic to.  Lastly, include something like Save – which would be something to help persist the object to the database and include a WriteXML and ReadXML  for persistance to disk.  If you needed to pull and fill this object from the database – the ability to call a tableadapter with it’s current functionality would be great to have. ( I picture a GetPerson(int id), GetPeople(), etc… queries that call the stored procs).

    This is my favorite wishlist item 🙂

    (by the way – does anyone know of a add-in currently to VS 2005 that could do something similiar to what I’m asking?  I don’t know what to search on – ie. I get CLSA when I do a search for Business Objects for C#)

  26. MikeJ says:

    more things to build apps that everyone has to solve. the membership/roles thing is just brilliant – every app has this problem (and not everyone is going to do domain level authentication) . more things like this in the platform are needed.

    figure out what Ruby on Rails is doing right and figure out how to do provide that with asp.net

    more support/info on clustering is important. guidelines on how to build apps that can be expanded by plugging in a new IIS machine to handle requests. i know its not that simple but you need to aim higher.

    decouple IIS from the OS. think of something that would be the best/only thing to run ASP.NET that uses less memory, serves asp.net faster/better.

    think of other ways to serve of ASP.NET in embedded situations like the web app in most home routers.  thinks like application appliances. like web apps that run doctors offices (billing scheduliling), but are deployed in a small box with almost nothing for the user to do but plug it in and point their browser.

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