Visual C++ at TechEd Europe 2006

Hi, I’m Steve Teixeira, the Group Program Manager for Visual C++.  Ayman Shoukry and I had the pleasure of spending the week in Barcelona to represent the Visual C++ product group at TechEd Europe, and I’d like to tell you a little about it.

We had four sessions dedicated to Visual C++ in all: Marcus Heege gave a whiteboard session called Extending C++ Projects to .NET – Do’s, do-not’s and donuts; Kate Gregory presented a session on Extending Native Code C++ Applications with Managed Code; Ayman talked about Visual C++ 2005 New Optimizations; and I discussed Visual C++ – Orcas and beyond.  I was really overwhelmed with the success and popularity of each of these sessions.  Marcus’ session was so full that 50 people unfortunately had to be turned away at the door due to lack of space.  VC++ MVP Bruno van Dooren said of Kate’s talk, “This was just the best session I have seen this tech-ed, or possibly ever.” Ayman’s session was also quite full, which was remarkable considering it was a rather über-geek topic on the morning of the last day of the conference, and he also enjoyed a lot of interactive attendee engagement during the presentation.  My session had about 300 attendees and my session review comments included no fewer than 13 requests for even more C++ content at future Microsoft conferences!

Ayman explains how to make code go fast

All of the Visual C++ speakers, as well as several MVPs and RDs, spent considerable time at the “Ask the Experts” stand in the Microsoft booth on the show floor.  Honestly, this is one of my all-time favorite job duties.  I love to meet with developers, hear how they’re using the product, try to help them make the most of Visual C++, and listen to their thoughts on how we can make the product better.  One of the most common question themes at TechEd this year was around the area of developer agility and productivity.  In particular, folks see the great productivity features in the .NET languages and long for the same thing in native C++.  Things like refactoring, fast & rich intellisense, snippets, and visual class design/viewing are becoming de rigueur features for modern development tools.  This is, of course, a much more difficult problem to solve for native C++, but the good news is that it is an area of intense focus and investment on the part of the Visual C++ team.  We hope to have some of the fruits of this labor ripen in time for Orcas, and we have a strategy for continuous improvement over several releases beyond Orcas.

VC++ MVP Siddhartha Rao demonstrates the fine art of
“lollipops and boxes” COM diagrams to an attendee

Providing for greater agility was one of the three pillars of the Visual C++ product strategy that I presented at my session.  The other two strategic pillars that I discussed are: building encapsulations around strategic native platform APIs and providing interop technologies that allow for “friction free” mixing of native and managed code.  The former point means, among other things, that we intend to increase our level of investment in our native frameworks, such as MFC, in order to better support the native code features of the Windows platform.  The latter point highlights our commitment to ensuring that you will always be able to leverage your investment C++ even as you take advantage of managed code and other next-generation platform features.

These pillars serve to support our product mission, which is to enable developer success on Microsoft platforms by providing world-class native tools while bridging to next-generation technologies.  As you can see, we’re coming right and out saying very clearly that native code development is the #1 priority of Visual C++, with outstanding interop support being our secondary priority.  This message was very well received by all of the conference attendees we spoke with.  In fact, it seemed to engender a sort of collective sigh of relief among C++ developers that, yes, native code development is still an important priority for Microsoft.

With the conference over, Ayman and I are heading out to the town of Huesca, where we will meet with a number of Spanish ISVs for a couple of days of in-depth work to help them successfully migrate to Visual C++ 2005.