By eweek  |  Posted 2003-10-26 Print this article Print

-Based Programming: Next Steps"> At the Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting in July, Bill Gates mentioned model-based programming. When will we see a step up into that? We have model-based programming in Visual Studio today with the Visio designer. Its probably the second-most-popular modeling tool in the world. And we will take quite a leap forward in the next version, code-named Whidbey. Weve got a separate codename for some of our modeling tools, which we call Whitehorse. And basically Whitehorse will ship as part of Whidbey—as a way to think about that. And youll see integration, not just of better tools for UML modeling, but also some of the beginnings of the vision that we started to articulate around SDM [System Definition Model] and management.
So people can literally annotate, "Hey, this component needs to run outside the firewall," or, "This needs to run in the DMZ." So youll actually see that in the model itself—youll actually be able to visually overlay. Youll actually be able to design Web services graphically and do all that other stuff as well. So Im pretty excited about the substantial level of improvement people will see in Whidbey.
Can you talk a little more about Whitehorse? What exactly is in that? Well, Whitehorse is just the codename for our next generation of modeling tools. So people will see improved modeling in the traditional capabilities that we have, but also I think the key fertile ground for innovation is around how modeling and Web services come together. And thats where youll see the innovation happen. I know youve been working with the Object Management Group [OMG]. Is there any chance Microsoft will rejoin OMG? I have nothing to announce now about OMG one way or the other. I think we have always been super-respectful of standards, and I think in the sense of models theres always an open architecture for importing and exporting in whatever model format that you decide. And really, the question is less a question of what your persistence format is for the model and more a question of how you can bring better productivity to the user when you stare at all those circles and triangles and funny-shaped arrows and lines. Can you really make it easier to follow a business flow? And if you think about not just the models at design time, but models at runtime. You know, kind of the Holy Grail is if you do this model and you think about the model and then you go to debug it; then all of a sudden, youre looking at code. And youre, like, "Well wait, I want to go follow that little arrow to this little box, not be in a debugger looking at address space zero-hex-four-nine-three and look at the three. I literally want to hit Return and have some arrow highlighted." I think theres lots of innovation for how the cycle can come together. And I think thats really the challenge to the industry in one dimension. And probably the second challenge is taking the model and either generating code or going all the way toward distributing the environment and really working together on the management infrastructure. So which approach are you taking? I dont think theyre mutually exclusive approaches. So youre looking at the issue as a holistic thing? Oh, I hope so. And I hope customers will agree when they see it. That is the problem. Like when you go look at the log and it says something didnt follow something. ... Can you correlate the event back to a rule? So if you look at the financial analysts and you click on that thing and it was suspended because of X, can you go back and see what X is? Does it show you this is the rule? In the Dragonfly demo [of business-rules technology], you can literally say this rule of design or this constraint was not met, so you can go back to debug. I think were starting to be a little bit more holistic, but just like with anything else, I think as more and more people start to use these technologies well have more and more ideas on how we can be even better and we look forward to that virtual cycle of making the process better. Next page: The challenge of vendor interoperability.


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