Technical content of this issue - 2 out of 5

Today

The conference does not officially start until tomorrow. Today was registration and early bird sessions. I did attend one of the early bird sessions and I discuss that below.

Registration is always fun at these conferences – that’s when we see what kinds of great free stuff they are giving away at this conference. This year was no disappointment! First, there was the required bag and T-Shirt. Note to anyone out there who has yet to attend a technical conference – nothing says first-timer like opening the bag and putting on the T-Shirt over your clothes on the very first day. Hopefully you will have a friend or co-worker with you to stop you.  Items inside the bag included-

  • A Microsoft Press book, Writing Secure Code with a quote on the front, "Required reading at Microsoft" - Bill Gates.  (If that doesn't generate mail then nothing will).
  • Numerous free magazines
  • Over a dozen CDs/DVDs, including demo copies of Visio 2003, Wise and a .NET Profiler

with the promise of another book on Longhorn tomorrow.

Sessions

The early bird sessions were full day sessions on one particular topic.  I chose ".NET, The XML and Web Services Perspective," presented by Don Box, Tim Ewald and Martin Gudgin.  For those that don't know the name, Don Box is one of the co-authors of the SOAP Specification while he was at Developmentor.  I figure it you get a chance to hear Don Box talk about XML/SOAP for a day, you would be a fool not to take advantage of it.  It's like getting to talk to James Madison about the Constitution or Pauley Shore about "Son-in-Law."  All three presenters were excellent and the by-play between them kept the presentation entertaining for the entire day.  As an example of these guys' knowledge of XML/SOAP, they eschewed using conventional tools and used EMACS to type entire XML files (with version info and charset info) on the fly, then wrote an entire SOAP envelope and used it to call a service (actually, although that is true, I just wanted the chance to use the word eschew).

Most of the information was pretty much review, but there were two items I wanted to highlight.  First (and this may be of particular interest to some readers) - at one point during the presentation, the presenter pointed out that when we use .NET to wrap our inputs in pre-defined objects we gain great productivity, but we lose the XML-ness of SOAP.  He asserted that when we insist that the args become objects before any of our own code runs we're giving up tremendous power.  He then pointed out how web services they write only use on input message and one output message.  He then showed how to use the [XmlAnyElement] attribute to allow the service to see the input as XML, allowing what is sent in to vary but still be used by the service, stressing that this reduced coupling between services.

Second, they spent some time going over Web Service Extensions(WSE) 2.0.  This is a set of classes that allow you to add filters to incoming and outgoing SOAP messages.  There are several pre-defined filters that cover things such as the WS-Security specification.  WSE is currently just in technology preview, and there are no libraries to support the specifications, so it is premature to include WSE in production code, but it might be worth a look to explore working with these specifications.

Letters – We Get Letters

TH in VA writes – “I'm ashamed to admit that I've really been looking forward to the return of BPDCNL (Biff's PDC Newsletter)”

TH – Ashamed?  Are you ashamed of loving technology?  Are you ashamed of yearning for knowledge?  Are you ashamed of that unlabeled video that you keep in the back of the drawer by your TV?  oops - sorry.

Keep those messages coming folks!

Tomorrow
Tomorrow the conference officially begins with a keynote speech by Bill Gates.  Here are a few of the codenamed products we are looking to learn more about-

  • Longhorn - The next version of Windows (after 2003).  First OS built with managed code
  • Whidby - The next version of ASP.NET
  • Indigo - A new model for implementing Web Services in the .NET Framework, including features currently addressed by WSE such as security, reliability and transactions.
  • Avalon - A new programming model that combines code and markup language
  • WinFS - A new File Storage System allowing users to search and manage files based on content
  • Yukon - The next version of SQL Server, featuring CLR support and new XML features

Wow, lots of stuff to talk about - should be a busy week.

Biff
Entire Research Department, Biff’s PDC Newsletter