On a more positive note

Posted by – July 9, 2010

I went on a bit of a tangent in my last post. I focused more on negative things than what it was I was really trying to get across. So today, let’s take a look at some of the good moves they’ve made in the last couple of years.

 

Powershell

Yes, I know I whine about it a lot. But it is a step in the right direction. From a technical standpoint, it is exactly what users in the Microsoft world needed. The main reason I complain is because I like the way that unix shells work in general compared to the way windows shells do. It’s a cultural/ease of use thing. It was a welcome, though LONG OVERDUE tool.

Asp.Net MVC

Once again, a very welcome release. As I said in the last post, it still lacks compared to other MVC frameworks, but it is absolutely a step in the right direction. Maybe you will never even convince WebForms guys to use it, but at least it’s there and it seems to be taking off. You’ll never get rid of webforms from the standpoint of legacy apps that are too big/expensive to rewrite, but going forward we’ve at least got a choice.

My biggest concern with this one is that they shipped MVC2 with Visual Studio 2010. _If_ this means that ASP.Net MVC releases are going to be tied to the Visual Studio releases, they’ve just shot themselves in the foot big time.

The Big One – JQuery

Let’s face it, this was probably one of the biggest announcements MS has ever made. It (could possibly) signify a shift in MS’s stance on open source and community projects. Instead of going out and writing yet another half baked framework, they went out and found a way to package (arguably) the best one with their framework. I understand there are other frameworks out there (and have even used them), but none seems to be nearly as popular as JQuery. In fact, JQuery has basically become the Kleenex of Javascript. Often time’s we on our team will say “I’m gonna JQuery that up” or “Throw some JQuery there”. It’s a noun, a verb… whatever it needs to be for us to say “Use Javascript”.

In fact, I don’t think there would be very many open source libraries with more acceptance and use than JQuery.

Razor

Okay, so maybe I don’t get it, but it does seem a lot better than webforms. But why release it just to throw into webmatrix? Unless I’m missing something here and it’s going to be in ASP.Net MVC next week, or V3.0 (when will that get released?) then it’s ridiculous that it isn’t integrated already.

The big picture

So, though I may not exactly like all the techs I’m about to list, let’s look at them from a high level. MS now has it set up that they can offer an MVC Stack (ASP.Net MVC), a great Javascript Library (JQuery), an IoC container (Unity), an ORM (Entity Framework) and a decent command line environment to deploy it with (using psake and Pstrami if it ever comes out ;) . Again very positive.

So why the big rant?

My biggest point in my last post was “What took so long?” I’ve heard two stories regarding why MVC came to fruition. One is that they were worried about all the MVC frameworks and finally decided to build their own. The other (way cooler) one is that the Gu was given a demo of rails at a conference and loved it so much that he wrote the humble beginnings of ASP.Net on the plane ride home.

Either way, imagine if, instead of a reactive release in 2009 we had gotten a more proactive release even in 2006? Imagine if RIGHT NOW we had in our hands what ASP.Net MVC is going to look like in 2013. Look at the other frameworks. Whenever someone gets something right, they copy it almost immediately. Imagine we had a framework like that.

Or what about entity framework. I haven’t used it yet. I don’t have a need. But in talking to people I have found that EF4 is a huge step forward. Not great yet, but not bad either. It works, but still has shortcomings. Once again, imagine if instead of a 2008 release we had something more along the lines of, i don’t know, 2006? Imagine if EF were nearly as mature as NHibernate.

All I’ve been trying to say is that MS is always late to the party and then tries to get people to push these tools when they know there are better ones out there. There may come a day when an MVP who knows both EF and NHibernate will push  EF before NHibernate (it may even happen already) but it will not be common for a few more releases of EF.

But once again the positive

All these releases seem to be coming closer and closer together now. The IIS Express, Sql Server Compact Edition, Razor announcements recently are examples of that. It seems as though MS is paying attention to the developers and seemingly even other developer communities again. If they can continue to do that and continue shoving resources towards improving the development story on Windows, things are bound to improve. Hopefully quickly.

Let’s face it, outside Visual Studio, windows development is second rate compared to everything else, and I hope they change that because I don’t want to be second rate.

1 Comment on On a more positive note

  1. Steve says:

    Good post in your follow up.

    As far as EF – I finally saw what I was looking for in EFv4 when Scott Gu posted this week on the true POCO with no designer edmx ‘data model’.

    This is a big and important step forward – as we went from nhibernate w/1 xml mapping file to EF with 3 and no pocos – to pocos still generated from a edmx, to finally a poco only solution.

    And the IIS Express can now run anywhere – even though before we had to install a new server OS in order to get IIS 7 features.

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