Friday, 12 August 2005
Yesterday I was at a client and we talked, among other things, about how their story would make a good one to deliver at a launch event. They have an existing project in C++, client-server with MFC etc. Using Visual Studio 2005, building on the beta, they have wrapped an ASP.NET UI around the server engine so that users who don't have the main product installed on their desktops can still look at and edit some of their data. The new features in ASP.NET 2.0 were so compelling that this client has decided to use the go-live licence and deploy on the beta. The availability of the beta to MSDN customers, and the updates with the CTP process, have helped this ISV get 6 months to a year ahead of those who wait for the launch.
Then today, I faxed back my contract for C++ Connections, which is happening the week of the launch. Although I have at least one confirmed (and two strong maybe) conference trips between now and Nov 7, I am very much thinking about that week and the excitement that will build as more and more people learn what's in the 2005 release.
Those of us who are in the loop, reading blogs from team members and executives, grabbing betas and CTPs, living out on the bleeding edge putting Vista on the laptop, can sometimes forget that a launch is still a really big deal to people who've been waiting for Microsoft to make a big “here's what we've got event”. While such events will always be important for getting the attention of those who weren't looking, these days you can see what they've got right now. If you're in the loop enough to read my blog, you can be just about as completely in the loop as I am. What a fun time to be a developer!
Thursday, 11 August 2005
This is a cool little service, “Not Endorsed nor Authorized by Google in any way”, that lets readers show me where you are. Go on, zoom and pan and whatever till you find your location, then double-click to add your little face icon to the map.
Inspired, as I so often am, by Scott Hanselman.
Sunday, 07 August 2005
I like having my editor and my build environment integrated with my source control, even if that source control is Source Safe (ugh.) I like being able to check in and out from Solution Explorer rather than a separate tool, and settings like “check out on edit” are handy too. But you know what I really want to be able to do? Right click a line of code and ask “who wrote this?” The answer would be the date, user id, and check-in comment from the last time a touch of that file affected that line of code. Anyone who has ever managed a team project has looked at a block of code, done a double-take, and then demanded of the air “who the %^^$# put that in there?” I want my editing environment to tell me that.
The information to do this is in the system. I can do it by hand by doing a Diff between versions until I find two versions where that line changed, then looking at the check-in details. But it's just the kind of boring job that's perfect for a computer.
I wonder if the source control in VSTS does this?
Wednesday, 03 August 2005
Did you know that Visual C++ 6, which is fast approaching its seventh birthday, will soon be an unsupported product? That's not exactly shocking; after all it was developed to let developers target Windows 95 or NT! Perhaps you were wondering when some other applications you use are going to reach end of life.... in that case, here are some handy links:
If there's something you don't feel like upgrading, you might want to know how long it will be supported for as part of your wait-or-upgrade-now decision.
Wednesday, 27 July 2005
I got an interesting email today with this subject line: Want to build the next generation of C++ Libraries?
Enclosed was the following, from Martyn Lovell:
Development Lead, Visual C++ Libraries
Want to set the standard for the next generation of C++ application? Ready to design code that will be used and critiqued by the whole developer community? Want to have a direct connection to customers whose problems you understand? Want to build a new generation of libraries for a new language running in modern environments? The Visual C++ Libraries team is the place for you. We own all the library code shipped for C++. We are building new libraries that drive developer productivity and power on the native and managed platforms. Next version we’ll have to understand how our customers are going to work with WinFX and move forward with their existing code. And we’ll have to bring our native and managed libraries up to date to work seamlessly with the technologies of the Longhorn Wave, WinFX and ISV applications like Office 12. We own the full set of C++ Libraries -- C Runtime Library, Standard C++ Library, MFC and ATL. In future releases we’ll also have to address some of the challenges of parallel programming, and migration of existing native applications to managed code. We’re looking for senior individual contributors ready to code, design and provide the next generation of code reuse though leadership at Microsoft. Degree in a relevant subject and five years of software engineering required.
We are anticipating expanding our team for our next version to allow us to build some new MFC and ATL features (such as integration with Avalon, and support for new UI styles). So we’re hoping to find one or two people with deep MFC experience to add to our team. You don’t have to be using MFC today, but we especially want to hear from you if you have written a good amount of MFC code in your past.
If you know Martyn's email address, go ahead and email him and mention you saw it on my blog. If you don't, email me (don't leave a comment) and I will forward it to him.
Friday, 22 July 2005
People regularly email me, or approach me at conferences, and ask me to “confirm” that Microsoft is trying to get rid of C++ in favour of C#. Since nothing could be further from the truth, I am not the person to get a confirmation from. But then again, I don't work for Microsoft, so maybe I'm deluded? That's why I like to find simple and unequivocal statements from people who do work for Microsoft, like this:
Visual Studio 2005 takes C++ development to a new level. For example, developers will get the same drag-and-drop experience creation of user interface as other languages, the same automatic statement completion and the same intuitive graphical debugger. Visual C++ 2005 developers will be able to build high performance 32-bit native code applications, use web services to interact with popular sites such as Amazon.com and Ebay, add professional quality 3D/2D graphics, video and sound using the DirectX SDK, all while generating robust and extremely fast code using our world-class C/C++ compiler.
C++ is here to stay for a long time and we are committed to providing the best tools for C++ development.
That's kind of hard to misinterpret. And when the Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division says it, you really need to believe it.
Saturday, 16 July 2005
Brandon Bray went about 18 months without blogging and I know I was just one of many people who begged him to start again. Well, he has and his first entry is a delightful laundry list of things he plans to cover. The second is about switch reduction in the 2005 compiler and linker, but it provides wonderful insight into the hassles of writing, testing and maintaining a compiler and a linker. A few quotes:
I started evaluating changes by doing none else than reading the source code for the compiler driver. Through that I came across obsolete, outdated, bizarre, undocumented, and useless switches. I looked at each one asking whether it was necessary for the compiler in the long term and evaluating each switch against the requirements listed above. I actually spent most of my time trying to figure out what each switch did. Even asking developers who work on the compiler, I'd sometimes get several different answers. In a few cases, no one knew what the switch did. If our own team couldn't recall a switch's purpose, it's not hard to believe nearly every programmer using Visual C++ will have the same problem.
In a good attempt to allow application writers to make use of the latest and greatest hardware, nearly every compiler introduced a new better switch to make your code even faster. Unfortunately, compiler switches end up in make files that rarely get revised. It wasn't uncommon to see a make file specify a
G5 switch even though 80486 and Pentium have long been out of mainstream production. The G-series of switches do not prevent programs from running on older hardware, which was a common misconception. Eventually, Visual C++ just ignored the
G5 switches and the program compiled as if
G6 had been given to the compiler.
Brandon writes with a dry, understated sense of humour. You have to love “It is difficult to know that
Ot are ineffective.” or “Very few programs could actually work with these options, so they were both removed from Visual C++ 2005.” Not to mention subheads that call switches “truly evil” or “bizarre”.
An excellent post to give some insight into what the team's decisions involve day to day, and the extent to which MVP and Ladybug feedback make a real difference in those decisions. Keep going, Brandon!
ps: the topic for the second post came from a comment on the first. Tell him what you want to read and I bet he'll write it.
Thursday, 14 July 2005
I'm registered and I've reserved a hotel room. Just the little matter of plane tickets to take care of now...
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