Microsoft Sharpens Its Software Factory Vision

At OOPSLA, Microsoft's head researcher announces a new framework and tools for building domain-specific languages and the precursor to the company's software factories strategy.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—In a speech at the Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications—or OOPSLA—conference here, Microsoft Corp.s head researcher announced a new framework and tools for building domain-specific languages and the precursor to the companys software factories strategy.

Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, described the strategy during his keynote at the conference, saying software factories represent "a change in what we actually want to do with software. Now we have to think about programming with large components."

As software factories co-author and Microsoft software architect Jack Greenfield initially told eWEEK over the summer, software factories use tools such as Microsofts Visual Studio Team System, DSLs, patterns frameworks and guidance to build applications for specific industries or markets. However, the software factory approach is still somewhat futuristic and fits well with Rashids talk on the future of programming.

/zimages/3/28571.gifAre software factories the next dev wave? Read more here.

"This is the first down payment on our promise of software factories," Rashid said.

Thus, Microsoft is starting now in delivering on its vision. "Our Visual Studio team is delivering a set of tools for developing software factories," Rashid said. "Its a domain-specific tools package."

In essence, Microsoft is delivering a preview of its tools. The Redmond, Wash., software giant introduced a CTP (Community Technology Preview) of its framework and tool for building customized domain-specific language designers. The CTP will ship this week.

During a demonstration of the tool, Jochen Seeman, program manager for VSTS (Visual Studio Team System), said the tool features a rich graphical designer in a platform that will be "available to end users and partners who want to build their own specific tools and languages."

However, "in the final product youll be able to choose your domain-specific language from a template," Seeman said. "You can do a graphical designer for your very own domain-specific language … and integrate a code generator that takes information from the designer and creates a Web page," for instance, he said.

"Rather than start from scratch, we want [developers] to start with well-known notational models," said Keith Short, co-creator of the software factories approach.

In addition, Microsoft announced a set of partners who have announced support for the new technology and expressed plans to deliver domain-specific language designers for their markets, including Borland Software Corp., Kinzan Inc., Nationwide Building Society, Siemens and Unisys Corp., Rashid said.

Next page: Freeing up developers.