Developers are anticipating that a robust components market will grow up around Microsoft Corp.s .Net initiative, particularly now that the software vendor has released its Visual Studio .Net development platform.
Microsoft officials and others said they expect Visual Studio .Net to spawn a market for component software not seen since the early days of Visual Basic, with the companys Visual Basic controlsknown as VBXand, later, OCX, or Object Linking and Embedding Custom controls, and ActiveX controls.
Components are key to developers, enabling them to use prebuilt, pretested pieces of reusable code to do such chores as create user interfaces, integrate applications and systems, and even broker Web services.
"I think Visual Studio .Net will broaden the market for components," said Brad McCabe, senior applications development specialist at Ajilon Inc. "Visual Basic especially created the component market in a lot of ways years ago when [Microsoft] came out with the ability to plug components in. But that type of component market hasnt been available for Web development like it has for traditional desktop development."
Ajilon, an IT consultancy in Towson, Md., has been a beta user of Visual Studio .Net and tools from Infragistics Inc. McCabe said he uses Infragistics ASP .Net Web controls to streamline user interface development for clients.
Infragistics, of East Windsor, N.J., is just one vendor lining up to release components supporting Visual Studio .Net. The company next month plans to announce NetAdvantage Suite, UltraWinSuite and UltraWebSuite, which support Windows and Web development around the .Net platform, said Infragistics CEO Dean Guida.
At ComponentSource, a marketplace for software components, more than 210 of its 640 component author companies joined the ComponentSource .Net program and said they will release .Net components this year, many around the time of Microsofts Visual Studio .Net launch on Feb. 13 in San Francisco. Companies set to announce components include ComponentOne LLC, FMS Inc., Sax.Net, SoftArtisans Inc., Visualsoft Inc. and Xceed Software Inc., said Sam Patterson, CEO of Atlanta-based ComponentSource.
"Were excited about the release of VS .Net because finally, after nearly two years of waiting, weve got something to build applications with [using] all this new technology," Patterson said. "For the first time, we have a new component-based platform that allows so much more to happen than the old COM-style [Component Object Model-style] platform could, such as being able to create integrated Web services or writing components that can run on a server and serve up a visual user interface over the wire."
Support for multiple languages also means developers "can write and use components in pretty much any language that supports .Net Framework," he said. ComponentSource has 7,000 COM components being tested for migration to .Net.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.