RealTime IT News

Microsoft: Less Code Is More

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Operating under the notion that less code equals greater productivity, Microsoft officials demonstrated how programmers can use Visual Studio 2005 to cut the amount of code writing in applications by 50 percent to 75 percent.

During the opening keynote for VSLive here, Microsoft Visual Studio Product Manager Jay Schmelzer showed more than a thousand software developers, architects and Microsoft enthusiasts how to write a basic RSS reader in just minutes, using far less code than it would normally take.

The programmer used the Redmond, Wash., software giant's Visual Studio 2005 Team System edition, a high-end edition that allows several programmers to work on the same applications in a collaborative fashion, to publish the reader using drag and drop tools.

In another demo, Eric Lee, product manager for Visual Studio Team System, dragged and dropped Web services to facilitate transactions on a fictional company he called AdventureWorks.

He also said new security tools in Visual Studio 2005, such as a "grammar checker," scan for pesky bugs and buffer overflows to shore up the application's defense.

The event set a positive tone for one of Microsoft's most crucial product launches since it unveiled .NET. On Nov. 7, top officials for the company will convene in San Francisco to launch Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006.

Programmers have been testing Visual Studio 2005 for several months, providing Microsoft with the necessary feedback it needs to release a product with high quality and low quotients of bugs.

When it goes live to the general public, developers won't have to do as many of the grungy programming tasks as they had to in the past because much of the tedious code has already been baked into the application suite, said BJ Holtgrewe, senior production manager for the system.

Ralph Crago, IT systems support analyst at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, Fla., said the overview was useful even though he was familiar with a lot of it from playing with the beta.

Though Crago declined to name the software product, he said his team is using a piece of software that integrates with Visual Studio. He expects the integration to improve in Microsoft's latest development environment.

"I use Visual Basic a lot and Visual Studio," Crago said. "The fact that this other company is integrating into Visual Studio and into a .NET environment, it's important for me to understand what is on the leading edge."

Crago said he also got the feeling Microsoft is more open than they have been in the past to working with other companies, noting that Holtgrewe name-dropped IBM as a partner in Web services. This is something he hadn't heard in past VSLive conferences.

"I'm glad to hear Microsoft acknowledge that there are other companies out there that they need to be working with," Crago said.

To be sure, Holtgrewe said Microsoft developed the pending Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 to work with XML-based Web services from partners such as IBM to boost productivity, business insight and security.

"If you look at the .NET framework, you'll notice that you can program Windows cleanly against XML Web services solutions from other vendors," Holtgrewe said. "Other customers have told us loudly and clearly that working with other systems inside the world that you live in is extremely important."

But Holtgrewe's chat was also peppered with competitive messages, noting that U.S. DevTracker found that 53 percent of software development is being done on .NET these days, leaving Java scrambling for the remainder of the pie.

He also showed a chart listing software development costs for using .NET and Java-based environments such as Eclipse.

Repeating the Microsoft mantra that "free is not really free," the programmer showed that while the basic development environment for Eclipse is free versus a basic Visual Studio 2005 license, which costs $8,200, the cost of using Eclipse increases as users tap into load testing and other advanced features.

When he added it up, the cost of using VS 2005 was over $30,000 versus more than $100,000 for Eclipse-based applications.