Reflections on Monday


Wow! What a first day!

Given the amount of hype prior to the PDC, it was almost inevitable that the conference
itself would be something of a disappointment. Yet nobody I spoke to last night expressed
anything but enthusiasm for the platform vision unveiled at the keynote sessions.
There’s a seismic shift about to take place in the way people build applications,
and a qualitative change in the kinds of applications it will be possible to build.

Two things particularly struck me out of the first day’s material.

1. The web browser is dead for anything apart from internet sites
…and even on the internet, its value will be reduced. Many people have
been building intranet sites because of the ease with which they can be updated, deployed
and manipulated. Avalon certainly seems to provide the best of both the Windows and
web models and then some – highly graphical, media-rich applications that integrate
into the shell but involve no more “deployment” than a web page does to load on a
browser. In JimAll’s keynote, amazon.com demonstrated an Avalon version of their website
that really showed this off well – rich Windows controls like the carousel being used
to browse the items on sale, and the metadata (i.e. properties) of items being integrated
for easy searching and manipulation. I can quite imagine that in five years time when
you go to a large commercial website, the HTML view will be a secondary option for
broad reach, with an Avalon version becoming the default for most (Windows) users.

2. The Service-Orientated Architecture is here to stay
Indigo finally provides the last piece of the jigsaw for distributed computing.
Since the first PDC release of the .NET Framework, people have had a hard architectural
choice to make between ASP.NET Web Services, .NET Remoting and .NET Enterprise Services.
Indigo will reduce the number of choices that have to be made and guide developers
towards the best architectural approach.

What’s particularly interesting is the combination of everything together – from Avalon
(for UI) to WinFS (for storage) to Indigo (for communications). It will be of great
interest to see how customers are able to exploit this as a broad platform. My initial
fear on seeing the initial keynotes was that there’s a large mental leap people need
to make in order to piece the puzzle together, but you can see the cogs whirring and
chatting to other developers this morning people are starting to appreciate the full
potential of this platform.


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