Of course, we expected to imbibe in a certain quantity of “the Microsoft Kool-Aid” when six Geonetric software developers traveled to Orlando for the three-day Microsoft DevConnections conference, but after the first day’s sessions in which Microsoft executives described the new features in forthcoming versions of their products, we were able to see how those new innovations match the larger trends in software delivered over the Internet, and how to prepare for further innovations.
In many cases, we were able to congratulate ourselves on our anticipation of those trends, and of what Microsoft would do to respond to them. For instance, our early prototypes of VitalSite 5 had been designed according to bedrock principles of strong encapsulation and loose coupling, with the intention of migrating to a true Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). Now that we have seen the details of Microsoft’s Windows Communication Foundation tools for creating applications this way, there is a clear, simple path to move VitalSite to SOA, and without significant changes. In another case, the automation of HTML markup for forms, we believe our homespun solution has surpassed what Microsoft plans to ship.
In addition to making VitalSite more robust, durable, flexible, and scalable, the use of the disconnected services described by SOA, when combined with Microsoft’s new Silverlight platform makes a direct line to a substantially improved user experience at the same time that developer productivity is improved. Experimentation and tests with Silverlight will assure us that the Silverlight platform can do everything that the purveyors of the Kool-Aid say it can.
Although Silverlight resembles older existing technologies such as Java Applets and Adobe Flash, its unique runtime capabilities apparently allow much of Geonetric’s existing code to be re-applied without modification. One of the more abstract computer science theorists at the conference called this unique feature of Silverlight a major new way of thinking about object-oriented programming models, if it holds up to its promise.