The theme for my presentation at the Dutch PHP Conference last week was “recent improvements in PHP-Microsoft interoperability”. In my talk, I showcased several of the PHP tools that the Interoperability Team at Microsoft has released on CodePlex. (Really, though, I only scratched the surface of what this team has done recently. A quick glance at the PHP tag on the Interoperability Team Blog will give you a better idea of all the PHP-related work this team is doing.) I thought it would be a good idea to give you a bit more insight to this team’s work by sharing a conversation I had with Claudio Caldato, the team’s Senior Program Manager...
Brian: Can you summarize what the Interoperability Team does? Why does it exist?
Claudio: Sure, that’s easy. My team’s job is to build “bridges” between non-Microsoft and Microsoft technologies. By “bridges” I mean how-to topics, whitepapers, SDKs, tools, etc…anything that allows non-Microsoft technologies to more easily leverage technologies that we have to offer. A good example of this is the SSRS SDK for PHP. SQL Server Reporting Services is a powerful technology that was difficult to leverage with PHP before we released that SDK. Now, there is a bridge between PHP and SSRS.
As far as our raison d'être, we recognize that developers want and need choices in the technologies they use to develop applications. We exist to enable Microsoft technologies as choices. Enabling choice in this way makes good business sense for Microsoft, and by making our great technologies viable choices for all developers, the bar for building amazing applications goes up.
Brian: Interesting. You said your team’s job is about bridging non-Microsoft and Microsoft technologies. Does you team focus only on PHP-Microsoft bridges?
Claudio: No, not at all. We see PHP-Microsoft bridges as being very important, and we do focus on PHP quite a bit, but our mandate is to build bridges for other non-Microsoft technologies too. A good example of this is the work we did in collaboration with Noelios Technologies in releasing a new version of the Restlet open source project. This project provides a bridge for Java developers who want to leverage ADO.NET Data Services, now called WCF Data Services (or Odata) and is an open protocol.
Brian: OK, so you must know a lot about PHP and other non-Microsoft technologies, right?
Claudio: Well, I’m not an expert in non-Microsoft technologies we use for our bridges. I know enough about PHP and other technologies to help design bridges, but my expertise and focus in on the Microsoft side of the bridge. We often hire experts in other technologies to help us with the other end of bridges.
Brian: What sort of work is there to do on the Microsoft end of bridges? Isn’t your work really about understanding non-Microsoft technologies and then providing convenient tools and/or guidance to use our technologies?
Claudio: Sure, understanding non-MS technologies is critical to what we do, but a key part of my job is in working with Microsoft teams to make sure what they build can be leveraged by other technologies. Interoperability has to work both ways…if we don’t build products in such a way that other technologies can use them, then building bridges is impossible. This is where my expertise comes in…on the Microsoft side of things.
Brian: How did you become an expert on the Microsoft side of things? What is your background?
Claudio: Well, before coming to Microsoft I worked for HP (for a long time) as a Firmware developer…embedded systems, C++. I was in the R&D lab doing product development, working on things like firmware for scanners. At around the time of the internet boom, I became an Architect for HP Consulting. I led a team that helped big customers with broad system implementation. In 2000, I joined Microsoft as a Program Manager working on Visual Studio/.NET 1.0. I helped build the UI for macro controls and an the VSA SDK (Visual Studio for Application) that was used to use the VB language and a VS-like IDE to add extensibility to an application (for instance through VSA it was possible to add the same developer experience you have in Word, for instance when you write a macro). After that, I continued in the PM role, working in Office on the developer experience for InfoPath 1.0 release and managed code support in InfoPath 1.0 SP1 then I moved to the CLR team as performance and garbagecollector program manager). Now, well…you know what I’m doing now.
Brian: That’s quite a background, and I can see why focusing on the Microsoft side of interop SDKs is a good fit for you. Anything else you want to share?
Claudio: Actually, yes. I’d like to get more feedback from PHP developers. I’m used to working with Microsoft technologies, and even though we do often consult PHP experts, it would be great if we can have a dialog with the broad PHP community to improve our bridges and find out I can help them to use our technologies and products.
Thanks, Claudio! You can keep up with the work of the Interoperability Team on their team blog, as well as provide feedback there. You can find much of the work they do released on Codeplex, where you can also provide feedback.