Microsoft Preps New Modeling Language

The software maker puts the "D" in declarative programming as a key part of its larger Oslo model-driven development strategy.

REDMOND, Wash.-Microsoft, which in October officially announced its intent to support model-driven development in a broad strategy known as " Oslo," is beginning work on a new declarative programming language, a supporting editing tool and other components of the initiative, according to sources close to the company.

Microsoft announced Oslo as part of an amorphous vision for simplifying application development, design, management and deployment. Company officials said Oslo will represent a core set of technology investments that will encompass both a services infrastructure-spanning server, client and the Internet "cloud"-and an executable modeling platform that will include a general-purpose modeling language, tools and repository.

However, the sources said that at the heart of the Oslo initiative lies a new declarative programming language currently known simply as "D." If, as the code name implies, Oslo were a city, D would be the key to Oslo.

According to the sources, D is a new language under development at Microsoft aimed at building applications and components for the Oslo repository. However, D is but one piece of a much larger puzzle that will include graphical modeling tools and other components. D is expected to be a textual modeling language suitable for use by business professionals and domain experts.

Accenting D will be a new editing tool known as "Intellipad." Intellipad will serve as a text editor for the D language and will further support the development of applications and other content for the Oslo repository.

Although Intellipad is targeted primarily for use with D, it will be capable of supporting other declarative languages, sources said. It is being designed to be both customizable and suitable for scripting. The technology also is known inside Microsoft as "Emacs.Net," as homage to the Emacs text editor made popular in the Unix environment.

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In a talk at the Lang. NET conference on the Microsoft campus here Jan. 30, Don Box, an architect in Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, said that Microsoft engineers "care deeply about having natural ways to write things down in a text file that are not only natural to write, but more importantly, natural to read."

The Connected Systems Division is working on D and Intellipad, sources said. However, other groups within Microsoft, including the Developer Division, are working on different components of the Oslo strategy.

When some Microsoft bloggers began referring to an Emacs.Net effort late last year and in the early days of 2008, Burley Kawasaki, director of product management in Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, issued a statement on the issue.

"The recent reference to a possible '' like environment is referring to some of the R&D efforts we're exploring that would help enable model-driven development to enter mainstream use by the developer community," Kawasaki said. "While it's too soon to announce any specifics in terms of product offerings, this generally referred to some of the early thinking we're doing around Oslo's modeling platform currently in development at Microsoft, specifically focused on how developers will want to edit and create declarative models."