By Paul Litwin
It's Everett, Not Everest
The codename Microsoft has given to the next version of the .NET Framework and Visual Studio .NET tells you a lot about the magnitude of the release. The name is "Everett," after a city in Washington state - not to be confused with Everest, the Himalayan mountain. Everett is about a 30- to 40-minute drive north of Redmond, Wash. It makes for a nice day trip, but it's hardly worth a postcard. And so goes the Everett release of .NET: It represents a small, "dot" upgrade of .NET - 1.1 to be exact - so don't expect to see a whole lot that's new and exciting with this release.
With Visual Studio "Everett," Microsoft rolls several components that were separate downloads into .NET, including the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT), J#, and the ODBC .NET Data Provider. Everett also will add the Smart Device Extensions (SDE) for building Windows CE applications running the .NET Compact Framework (.NET CF), and a new Oracle .NET Data Provider. Of course, Everett also will have its share of the bug fixes, performance tweaks, and security patches you've come to expect. But all in all, expect a fairly minor update to the .NET Framework and VS .NET. It will cost you $29 and will be available when Windows .NET Server ships - probably during the first half of 2003.
Much more interesting to you will be the next release of Microsoft's developer environment and tools after Everett, codenamed Yukon. The Yukon release will be synchronized with the next version of SQL Server. SQL Server gains the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) and thus you will gain the ability to craft stored procedures in any .NET language. (Note: I'm not convinced that this is necessarily a good thing, but that's another editorial entirely.) Expect this release to be a major update to the Framework and Visual Studio. Web Services will mature significantly, with Microsoft architecting many of the currently hot Web Service standards such as WS-Security, WS-Routing, etc., into XML Web Services in the Yukon timeframe. We also should see a much smarter, more refined Visual Studio IDE and more distinction between VB and C# as the major Microsoft languages battle it out for developer mindshare.
If you were thinking we might see a managed code version of Microsoft Office in the Yukon timeframe, think again - can you imagine how many lines of icky legacy code Microsoft Office represents? All is not lost, however, because Visual Studio "Yukon" will offer developers the ability to add .NET managed code behind Microsoft Word and Excel documents. VBA will still be there, but Yukon will give you the choice of writing Office document event handlers in either VBA or one of the .NET languages. Expect to see Yukon sometime in 2004.
The fact that the "Everett" version of Visual Studio and the Framework is so minor actually points out a good thing: The current version of .NET is pretty much rock solid and doesn't require a lot of major quick fixes. This fact gives Microsoft the luxury of moving .NET along at a slow - but - steady pace, along a well-defined path.
So maybe Everett isn't as exciting as it could have been, but I'll take stability over excitement any day.
Paul Litwin is editor and technical director of asp.netPRO. E-mail him at [email protected].