Microsoft Moves a Step Closer to Oslo

Microsoft shares more detail about its "Oslo" modeling platform, naming the components and its delivery vehicle. The company will deliver Community Technology Previews (CTPs) of the Oslo technology at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.

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Signifying the seriousness of its commitment to pursue and promote a more model-driven approach to building software, Microsoft shed a little more light on its "Oslo" modeling strategy, giving a few more details on the Community Technology Previews the company will deliver at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference at the end of October.

At the PDC, Microsoft will make available to developers the three core components of "Oslo:" a new declarative programming language, a visual modeling tool and the "Oslo" repository.

Robert Wahbe, corporate vice president of the Microsoft CSD (Connected Systems Division) said Microsoft is moving to shift its development strategy as the market changes. "Platform applications and software are becoming more and more model driven."

Indeed, Wahbe said, "from my point of view, this is the next big step to raising the abstraction" in software development--comparable to the move from assembly language to 3GLs (third-generation languages), he added.

Moreover, one of the goals of "Oslo" is to enable a larger number of people to be able to create and maintain distributed applications. "We want to make it so that not only developers can change models, but so can IT staff or business analysts," Wahbe said. Indeed, Oslo's goal is to make it "easier to author and integrate models and make modeling mainstream," he said.

Well, if anybody can do that, perhaps Microsoft has the best chance of pulling it off. Wahbe said the three "Oslo" components will ship as part of Visual Studio.

Developers will get the opportunity to see the three parts of the Oslo initiative in a matter of weeks. The new modeling language is referred to as "M," though it was formerly known as "D" (possibly for declarative) inside Microsoft, and "D" itself was an offshoot from another Microsoft modeling project known as "Q," sources said. In any event, "'M' is about letting you write down the models in a textual format and lets you build out domain-specific languages (DSLs)," Wahbe said. In addition, "M" will have "a great editing experience" in the Visual Studio tools, he said.

In a speech at the recent JAOO--initially known as Java and Object-Oriented--conference in Aarhus, Denmark, Anders Hejlsberg, a technical fellow in the Microsoft Developer Division, said of the move to visual versus textual programming: "A line of code can be worth a thousand pictures. There's something to be said for text...So my bold prediction is it will still be text" as a leading mode of programming.

The new visual modeling tool for building and interacting with models is known as "Quadrant." And the new Oslo relational repository houses models and metadata and makes models available to both tools and platform components.