Get Ready for Microsoft’s ‘Oslo’ Modeling Tool

Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC) will be a coming out
party, not just Windows 7, but also “Oslo,” a new tool the firm has been
working on for around a year that helps with model-based development.

Oslo
was first announced by Robert Wahbe, corporate vice president of the
Connected Systems Division in October 2007. Developers at PDC will get their first
release of a community technology preview (CTP), Microsoft’s fancy name for
beta software.

The CTP process is favored by Microsoft’s developer tool segment. CTPs
tend to be updated regularly, usually once per month, and Microsoft solicits
regular feedback. The result, though, is solid software, such as Visual
Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008.

Steve Martin, director of product management in the Connected Systems
Division at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), said in a blog posting that the goal of
Oslo is “to make it easier to build apps using models and to break down
silos of application development. That means that whether you write the user
specification, write the code, or have to manage the application, the model
for what the app should do is shared.”

Dial M for creation

To that end, Oslo has three key technologies: a language codenamed “M”
that helps people create and use textual domain-specific languages (DSLs)
and data models, a relational repository for both tools and platforms, and a
tool codenamed Quadrant that helps people define and interact with models in
a rich and visual manner.

Modeling is used to visually lay out and design an application, rather
than drawing its structure on a board or in a visualization tool like Visio.
It’s a popular form of development, so much so IBM shelled
out
$2.1 billion to acquire Rational Software, and continues to invest
heavily in Rational products.

Modeling is especially popular in service-oriented architectures and the
use of Web services because so many objects and services are visualized as
models and connected to form complex services.

“Quadrant” will handle the modeling graphically, whereas “M” will handle
the models in text code. Graphical models developed in “Quadrant” will be
exportable and readable in “M.”

The repository is a SQL database of models and related metadata that
holds all of the objects and models for developers using Microsoft Access,
Excel, or SQL Server Reporting Services, from which they can build their
project.

Oslo will be available as an add-on to Microsoft’s popular Visual Studio
development toolkit while it’s under development, although it may be spun
off as a stand alone product later.

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