Application firms prep .Net Web services strategies

SAN FRANCISCO — Visual Studio.Net has only officially been available for a few days, but developers are already restructuring their businesses around the Microsoft platform.

Microsoft distributed 3.5 million copies of the .Net

framework and Visual Studio.Net for beta testing, and developers using the tool were extolling its virtues even before Wednesday’s launch at the VSLive! Conference, which wraps up Saturday.

The launch included and “”Iron Developer”” contest, modelled on the Iron Chef television show, that was meant to show how much Visual Studio.Net can hasten the application-writing process. Many developers have created their own software products specifically to capitalize on what they figure to be a mass gravitation towards Visual Studio.Net and the .Net framework.

“”‘This is a commitment of Codagen to promote the architecture of .Net,”” Codagen Technologies Corp. founder and chief technology officer Michel Brassard said of the launch of Codagen’s v2.5 code generator. Montreal-based Codagen’s generator is designed to hasten and simplify .Net application development. “”We feel it’s an important platform. It’s going to change the world. We expect it to be half of our business.””

“”We’ve actually created a separate business to target this marketplace, to bring this data control in,”” added Eric Moothart, vice president of marketing and sales for Redmond, Wash.-based Austin Sierra Technologies. Austin Sierra’s Query Studio software is designed to simplify database interaction inside Visual Studio.Net by linking multiple databases and data sources.

Applause for Visual Studio.Net is not only coming from developers. Alister Sutherland, software director for IDC Canada Ltd., said the tool is significant leap forward.

“”What used to take days and days to accomplish, you can do in a matter of minutes,”” he said. “”It’s taking object-oriented programming to a new level.””

However, Sutherland said the upcoming .Net Enterprise Server will raise new issues as the back-end release will see Microsoft competing with the likes of Oracle Corp. and SAP AG.

“”They’re treading a fine line because they’re partnering with these companies that are already enterprise vendors,”” he said. “”Microsoft has always had a hard time penetrating the enterprise, back-end side of the house.””

But Microsoft insists the point of .Net is interoperability..Net developer product general manager Marie Huwe said the Microsoft is dedicated to making its .Net framework work well with other vendors’ offerings, even though she admits Microsoft is primarily focused on making its products work well together.

“”We know enterprises are heterogeneous environments. We know they want to integrate rather than rip and replace,”” Huwe said. “”We don’t expect that they’re all going to up and shift to SQL server, especially with data. We think that if we can win the application-platform battle, then that is the thing.””

Microsoft is calling Visual Studio.Net is the first tool that has been written for the development of Web services applications. These XML-based programs are designed to let apps communicate with each over the Internet in spite of different operating systems and programming languages. The .Net framework includes program interfaces and the common language run time engine that understands the 26 different programming languages .Net supports.

VSLive! also included announcements of new Web services toolkits for BizTalk Server 2000 and SQL Server 2000 for integrating with Visual Studio.Net.

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