E-Commerce Apps Tie to .Net

Microsoft Commerce Server 2002 is integrated with Visual Studio .Net development platform.

The latest version of Microsoft Corp.s Commerce Server software, which debuted at Microsofts TechEd conference in New Orleans last week, promises improved .Net development capabilities.

Commerce Server 2002 integrates with Microsofts Visual Studio .Net development platform via tools in its Developer Portal, allowing faster creation of e-commerce applications from within Visual Studio .Net, according to company officials in Redmond, Wash.

This version of Commerce Server, the successor to Commerce Server 2000 and Site Server before that, includes three features—Application Runtime, Base Class Library and Common Language Runtime Interoperability Layer—that allow developers to create Commerce Server applications using Active Server Pages .Net and .Net Framework. This ties in .Net applications with core Commerce Server services and systems, according to company officials. Commerce Server 2002 is aimed at companies conducting business globally, with its multilanguage, multicurrency support. Catalog management has also been improved in this release, allowing users to aggregate catalogs from multiple suppliers, create customer-specific or locale-specific catalogs, and offer custom product pricing. Integration with Microsoft Passport enables single-sign-on services in the applications.

Microsoft is introducing two additions in this version to the previously offered Evaluation and Developer editions. Enterprise Edition, targeted at global organizations, is priced at $20,000 per CPU and supports an unlimited number of CPUs. Its also certified for Windows Datacenter. Standard Edition, for small to medium-size enterprises, is priced at $7,000 per CPU.

Anthony Huie, network consultant at Concergent LLC, used a beta version of Commerce Server 2002 for a client project and said his experience was overall positive, noting that even the install was easier than with past versions. But Huie had difficulty importing data from other sources into Commerce Server 2002. "I tried to import a relatively small CSV file, and all it did was hang; it did that to any file I did, even one with just one entry," said Huie, in Wichita, Kan. "I was down to doing it by hand."

Microsoft also introduced new .Net capabilities for its Exchange e-mail and collaboration server at TechEd. Exchange 2000 Server XML Web Services Toolkit for Microsoft .Net, the third development tool kit released for Exchange 2000, provides self-paced .Net training for Exchange developers. In addition to training materials, it includes reusable code samples for creating .Net applications for scheduling, calendaring, contacts and workflow in Exchange.

The tool kit is free to current Exchange customers but costs $7.95 for shipping and handling for customers who dont wish to download it.