Comega talk

On Thursday I gave a .NET users group talk on Comega to somewhere around 100 .NET developers.  Overall I think it went pretty well.  I was nervous at first, but once I got into talking about the cool stuff I like I forgot about the pressure and had a good time.  If you were there, please let me know what you thought about both my presentation style and the technical content.

I asked the audience how many of them wrote a lot of code for interacting with databases or XML data, and almost every hand went up.  My premise was that there was a huge potential to improve the productivity, quality and security of a lot of mainstream software development through data-oriented language features like those in Comega, and that if customers agreed, it was their responsibility to demand these features from the industry.  In my opinion, we're far too content as programmers to go about doing things the way we've always done them rather than push for (and pay for) better ways of building systems (obviously finding the right balance here is hard).  Perhaps this reflects a typically short-term-oriented reward system of the software industry (shipping the next new feature sooner), or perhaps it just reflects a cynicism of a market full of half-baked "improve productivity quickly" products that lack empirical data and research (which development shops often aren't eager to share).  

One thing that surprised me was that when I showed the naive ADO.Net query code and asked the audience what the problems were with it, it wasn't until the 3rd response a minute or so into the discussion that someone said it was vulnerable to a SQL injection attack.  This may have just been typical developer shyness to answer obvious questions, but I had expected that to be the most obvious response.  Regardless, it is scary how easy it is to fall into this trap without noticing right away that constructing a SQL query based on user input is a bad idea.  It's also unfortunate how many more keys you need to press (~128 in my example) to avoid the problem.

There was some great discussion around how Comega might or might not be able to also help with the encapsulation typically provided by business objects.  After playing with some options and thinking about this a bit more, I think the two issues (accessing back-end data, and exposing that data through business objects) are largely orthogonal.  If you want to add a layer of abstraction that provides encapsulation, data hiding, client-side validation, etc. then you're still going to have to wrap the data in some custom objects that define the interface and logic you want.  However, Comega can make it much easier to implement those objects, especially due to the simple syntax for converting data to different shapes.

Anyway, for those of you that asked me after the presentation to post my slide deck, here it is.  Sorry I didn't post sooner, but my whirlwind vacation in Ontario was pretty hectic.  Here also are some links to papers and relevant video:


Comments (8)
  1. Thanks Rick for the information. I am excited about the possibilities for Comega. Know when this will be integrated into C#? This could be the key to writting CLR stored procedures in SQL Server 2005.

  2. Chris, Comega (MSR Cambridge) has no connection to C# (Product team in Redmond), so this is not going to be "integrated into C#" ever. However, the C# team is interested in solving similar problems. As far as I know, the above videos are the only public information that discuss the plans of the C# team.

  3. Thanks for the info. I enjoy Comega a lot and hope that some of the details of the language will be incorprated into C#. is there any way to voice our opinions to the C# team on the features of Comega? 🙂

  4. The MSDN product feedback center at is the best place to make suggestions for C#. I know the CLR team takes popular suggestions here very seriously.

  5. Kareem Shehata says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking talk Rick! You did a great job of covering what the new technology can do for developers. I think it’s pretty well understood that while we won’t Cw released into any kind of product any time soon, if we as a community push for some kind of enhancements along these lines they might well show up in the future.

    BTW: Any idea if MSR Cambridge might consider doing either a Shared or Open Source on Cw? If it won’t be developed into a product, it might help the community a lot if someone else turned into something useable in a production VisualStudios environment. It certainly wouldn’t hurt VS.NET sales!

  6. Rick Byers says:

    Thanks Kareem! The MSR guys tell me they’d like to release the source for Comega, but that unfortunately there are some complications which makes it unlikely that they will be able to (eg. they are built against some components they don’t control).

  7. Rick Byers says:

    Ever since I started planning for my users-group talk (and wrote this blog entry) about data access with…

  8. Rick Byers says:

    Ever since I started planning for my users-group talk (and wrote this blog entry ) about data access

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