More Microsoft Code Name Madness

More Microsoft Code Name Madness: Just when you thought Microsoft was moving away from code names – toward the ever-so-dull 'V.Next' nomenclature – a few new intriguing ones emerge to take our minds off the sweltering summer weather. The 'Other' Atlas: We've all heard about the Microsoft

  • More Microsoft Code Name Madness: Just when you thought Microsoft was moving away from code names – toward the ever-so-dull 'V.Next' nomenclature – a few new intriguing ones emerge to take our minds off the sweltering summer weather.
  • The 'Other' Atlas: We've all heard about the Microsoft Ajax toolkit in the works that is code-named 'Atlas.' But there's another Microsoft 'Atlas,' too, that has to do with volume-license management.
  • Decatur: Why install a team's software when you can teach them to install their own? That's the philosophy behind the 'Decatur' technologies.
  • Maddog/Maui: Surfboard codenames are hot in the tools world, it seems. We're still wondering whether Microsoft's 'Maui' and 'Hawaii' are actually interrelated, however.
  • Sandcastle: Developer documentation doesn't just write itself. Microsoft's 'Sandcastle,' currently available in test-release form, is designed to help streamline the process.

More Microsoft Code Name Madness

Code-name hounds that we are here at Microsoft Watch, we were feeling a little depressed by the seemingly growing trend among Microsoft development teams to shy away from code names.
Increasingly, when asked for the code name of a pending release of some new product, Softies have had little more to say than "V.Next." – or next version.

What happened to the good old days, where Memphis, Chicago, Cairo and Tukwila (Tukwila? Strange but true) dominated the Microsoft code-name landscape? Where whiskeys, like Macallan and Talisker, adorned product-team t-shirts? Weren't there supposed to be lots more vistas slated to follow Windows Vista?
Luckily, not every team is falling into the boring V.Next rut. From our air-conditioned oases (a k a, the apartment and the office) here in the Hot Apple, we've managed to collect a few new, cool codenames to track. Here is a sample from our latest sleuthing:

The 'Other' Atlas

When Microsoft code-name aficionados hear "Atlas," they automatically think of Microsoft's Ajax toolkit that is (believe it or not) still in beta.

(We're hearing increasing rumblings that Microsoft actually might be ready to launch Atlas 1.0 at TechEd Barcelona in mid-November. Stay tuned for more on that.)
June 2005: Microsoft Shrugs; 'Atlas' Is Born
Keith Smith: 'What's New With Atlas?'
But there's not just one Atlas under development in Redmond, we hear. There's another Atlas that is a "strategic initiative," as opposed to code. The Atlas initiative somehow fits under Microsoft's volume licensing mantle.

Our tipsters tell us that, via Atlas, Microsoft is working to improve and simplify the online experience for customers and partners who are interested in buying and selling volume licenses for Microsoft products and services. Atlas touches on license management, asset management and online delivery and distribution.
Sounds like Microsoft has some pretty ambitious online-licensing plans in the works. Anyone hearing any more details here?


Is Decatur yet another of the 'great vistas' series of code names to which Microsoft committed in January, when it renamed "Blackcomb" to "Vienna"?

A Refresher: 'Blackcomb' Becomes 'Vienna'

Hmmm. We'd say unlikely (with apologies to any citizens of Decatur, Georgia, who might feel otherwise.)
We're wagering, instead, that Microsoft may have opted for the Decatur name in reference to the heroic War of 1812 combatant Stephen Decatur.
Who in the World Is Stephen Decatur?
Microsoft "Decatur" is a set of tools that are being used inside the company's developer division, we hear. The tools are designed to enable product teams to take control of the install/uninstall process for products like Visual Studio, .Net and the .Net Framework (WinFX) and Team Foundation Server.

You know the idea of giving someone a fish vs. teaching that person to fish? It sounds like the ame principle applies here. And what could make you more of a hero – like Stephen Decatur -- than learning to be a fisher of installation/uninstallation code?

(OK, OK. We need to lay off the margaritas, we admit. It was all Microsoft Regional Director Carl Franklin's fault! He plied us with free drinks after a .Net Rocks recording session last week. And we're still recovering!)
Rocking the Mic at .Net Rocks
Back to Decatur. We're unsure whether Microsoft plans to make Decatur available outside the hallowed halls of the developer division – to members of other Microsoft teams, or maybe even other companies. We'll let you know if we hear more.

While we're on the topic of beach-side cocktails, it seems surf-board code names are really heating up these days.
Ohlo, an open-source startup staffed by a number of former Softies, took its company name from the first surfboard in Hawaii, the founders said.
Former Softies Create Open-Source Startup Ohlo
And we're hearing increasing references to a pair of Microsoft codenames – Maddog and Maui – which also happen to be the names of surfboards.
Maddog and Maui, which almost always seem to be mentioned together, seem to be some kind of internal test tools/test framework that Microsoft groups are using inside the company in building various products.
We've been wondering whether – given the geographic connection – whether Maui might somehow be related to Visual Studio "Hawaii." Hawaii, for those who've forgotten, was originally thought to be the next version of Visual Studio, slated to follow "Orcas," which is expected to ship in 2007. But it now sounds as if Hawaii is more of a catch-all codename for any features of Visual Studio that don't make it into Orcas.
Hawaii: Next Visual Studio or Catch-All Feature Receptacle?
Pass us a pina colada, and any tips you might have on Maui, Hawaii or great beaches to which we can escape this winter, once our summer sweat wears off.
In our regular blog reading in the past few days, we've noticed a number of postings about a Microsoft technology code-named Sandcastle.
According to a Sandcastle FAQ, the technology is designed to enable "managed class library developers throughout the world to easily create accurate, informative documentation with a common look and feel."
Read Lots More Gory Details About Sandcastle Here
And Even More Sandcastle Goodness
Sandcastle sounded interesting, sure. But not really overly inspiring to those of us writing articles, rather than documentation, for a living, we must admit. We were going to just let Sandcastle Community Technology Preview (CTP) 1 wash away, until we got a note from a reader this week who was quite interested in the technology.

Sandcastle "will be of interest to a majority of .NET developers outside of Microsoft," our reader opined.
"In the past a large number of developers have been using NDOC, a great open source code document compiler. (But) NDOC is not available for .NET 2 and above so many developers have been left without an effective way of publishing Developer level help documentation," the reader continued.
Plus, NDOC is no more, the reader added, providing us with a pointer to a recent blog post by Microsoft Regional Director and Most Valuable Professional Scott Hanselman on the sad demise of NDOC.

Scott Hanselman: RIP, NDOC
Anyone else out there interested in building documentation castles on top of Sandcastle? Drop us a message in a bottle....
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Copyright 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Ziff Davis Media Inc., 28 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016. The Microsoft Watch newsletter and Code Name Tracker are intended for the individual use of the recipient only, unless licensed. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Microsoft Watch is an independent publication, not affiliated with or authorized by Microsoft Corporation.