Next Dev Wave: Software Factories

Microsoft is advocating an assembly line approach to creating applications as it looks to build support for so-called software factories in the "Whidbey" and "Orcas" versions of its Visual Studio tool sets.

Microsoft Corp. is pursuing a strategy that would make software development easier by enabling developers to create applications in an assembly line fashion.

The Redmond, Wash., company is looking to build support for so-called software factories in the "Whidbey" and "Orcas" versions of its Visual Studio tool sets. Whidbey, or Visual Studio 2005, will be available next year, and Orcas, the code name for the following version of the product, will be available in what Microsoft calls its "Longhorn" wave, which will be in 2006 or later.

/zimages/6/28571.gifFor more on Visual Studio 2005, click here.

Software factories use tools such as the Visual Studio Team System, DSLs (domain-specific languages), patterns frameworks and guidance to build applications for specific industries or markets.

Microsofts factories also play into the companys software-modeling strategy, said Jack Greenfield, an enterprise tools architect at Microsoft, who has co-authored a book on software factories.

"We plan to make some kind of support for building and using software factories available in Whidbey," Greenfield said. "Were looking at the possibility of having some factories ship in Orcas for building smart clients—a very ordinary space thats traditionally been addressed by things like [Visual Basic]."

Microsoft wants to empower individual developers with factories and enterprise teams and organizations with specialized tools designed to build applications for their industries.

Greenfield said that while companies such as SAP AG, Siebel Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft Inc. can develop architectures and frameworks for CRM (customer relationship management) applications, sales force automation or supply chain automation, "their challenge is with the tools."

For these types of organizations, "Wed give them an SDK [software development kit] that enables them to build their own DSLs," Greenfield said. "Our third-party partners can ... build CRM modeling tools that play into these other tools. Our modeling technology will be made available sometime after Whidbey."

Next Page: Are factories a panacea?