Monday, September 22, 2008 1:50 PM
I was at the Microsoft VSX conference last week. VSX is the API for extending Visual Studio (VS eXtensibility). We do a little of that here at Atalasoft -- for example, see Rick's Code Project article on adding a debugger visualizer.
One of the more useful things I saw was Blueprints. Blueprints are essentially a running How-to document. It combines workflow with code factories to make it easy for you to deliver a Visual Studio extension that knows how to build a class of applications. Right now, it's delivered as a CodePlex hosted project -- a manager for Blueprint users to install into VS and an SDK so that you can build Blueprint projects.
For what Microsoft is doing for concurrency, take a look at some of the tools at msdn.com/concurrency including the Parallel Extensions to .NET.
I also had an interesting conversation with the creator of Cobra, an ALT.NET language. The short description is the syntax of Python+Design by Contract running on .NET. It some other nice features (classes have built-in unit tests, automatic property generation, the concept of types that cannot be nil). I think this page sums up the benefits of its "coding for quality" features. I have written about other .NET languages before -- I think that if MS allows mixing languages in one project in Visual Studio, you will start seeing more uptake of these languages.
Also got the chance to see some new products. Two interesting ones are DesignBox and TypeMock. DesignBox lets you store designed WinForms components and combinations of components for later reuse. They are working with ComponentOne and other component vendors to deliver reusable pre-configured galleries. TypeMock has a commercial thread mocking tool in Alpha that analyzes IL for deadlocks and can run multi-threaded tests with consistent thread context switching -- making it possible to run thread related tests in a predictable way.