A Look back at the History of .NET Interop

Check out the last few weeks worth of blog posts here.  One on .NET and Google's Social Graph API.  Another on .NET connecting to OpenID.  Another on JSON, another on JMS.

When I started this blog, there were people out there who knew, they were certain, that .NET apps could not connect to systems built with non .NET technology, or could not connect to systems built with non-Microsoft technology.  This was accepted as fact.  I spoke with customers daily who accepted this view as the truth.  It was looney.  I spoke with these people, explained that .NET could connect to the system they had running in their data centers right then, and they did not believe me.  The only way I could convince them of what I was saying, was to build the prototypes and proof-of-concept systems.  Even then, people were incredulous.  When I connected systems together, people looked at me like I had done something mystical. I remember telling people that the XML libraries in .NET supported XML namespaces, and they flatly did not believe me. 

How did it get that way?  I think mostly because of the dear Scott McNealy and his stagecraft.  Remember him?  Founder of Sun Microsystems and longtime industry blowhard.  He blasted .NET, repeatedly.  Every chance he got.  There was a brief period when he claimed that the XML that was produced by .NET apps was "proprietary."   And the tech press ate this stuff up.  It sold magazines.  The kind of claims he made - they were so kooky to me, but the press accepted it. This was a billionaire CEO, someone with a ton of charisma, and when he said .NET produced "proprietary XML", nobody bothered to ask "what they hell does that mean?"    They just printed it.  And then people read it, and believed it.  That was reality.  So, off to work I went - building prototypes and proving interop was real, and that XML was just XML.   

Scott is now out of the picture, I don't know what he is doing now, I'm sure it's something beautiful - do I recall that he wanted to just enjoy his kids?  Well, he's earned it.  But the fact is, he is not talking, and he is certainly not talking about .NET as a dead-end lock-in technology for Windows-only shops.  With McNealy's mouth no longer a factor in the industry, all the little mini-me's also evaporated.  All the people that made a living just repeating McNealy's bon mots disappeared, I guess they are now making honest livings somewhere.  The demagoguery in general has waned, and now customers believe what they see, rather than what they hear or read.  Now when I say that .NET does JSON, nobody stands up and expresses disbelief.  It's years now that people have been building .NET systems that connect to everything under the sun.  Interop happens. People know it works now. 

It's this kind of thing that makes me start to think that a blog dedicated to .NET-Interop, ...ah...maybe it has lived past its usefulness?   I mean, come on now. Does anyone doubt interop these days?

Still, though, I find the novel combinations of systems to be intriguing and thought-provoking, so I'm going to continue writing about interop, exploring different angles, building proofs of concept, and so on.



Comments (2)

  1. MSDN Archive says:

    Please do.

    Showing that a thing is possible is perhaps less of an issue.  Showing *how* to do it, however, is useful.  There are a lot of new APIs that people still aren’t quite up-to-speed on.

  2. Nick says:

    Another "me too" comment, just to show some support for your blog

    Your posts are all very relevant and useful – so please don’t stop churning out these gems!

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