Answering the question of whether .NET will survive seems like a good starting point for this new year as I take a moment to review where we've been and where we're going, because like everything else, change is coming to this newsletter. Microsoft initially announced its .NET technology at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2000 in Denver, then launched it in February 2002. At that time, developers saw .NET as a new development paradigm, but somehow Microsoft marketing took over. The marketing team didn't fully understand this new technology. The team just knew that it would impact all of Microsoft's server products and that everyone needed to "adopt" it. Suddenly we had every Microsoft product carrying the .NET name. Remember Windows .NET Server (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/Press/2001/Nov01/11-12FinalBetaPR.mspx)? I could give you a pretty long list of similarly named products. Microsoft SQL Server was one of the few products not to be officially tagged with the .NET moniker, even though it includes the Windows .NET Framework. Unfortunately, by the time the naming craze ran its course, people were freely associating .NET with everything.
In the January 2002 article "Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework Production Releases" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/Articles/ArticleID/23919/23919.html), Tim Huckaby warned that we would probably see a slow adoption curve among developers. However, not everyone was prepared for slow adoption. As a result, articles about the slow adoption and even the possible death of .NET began to pop up. For example, in the September 2002 article ".NET: The Next Macintosh, or just Active Desktop 2005?" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/26789/26789.html), Paul Thurrott wrote, "I still feel like a .NET apologist." (Note that many of Paul's articles are Web exclusives that have been misattributed to the Developer .NET Perspectives column.) A month later, in the October 2002 article ".NET Comes in Through the Out Door" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/27268/27268.html), Paul briefly looked at where .NET was succeeding with developers and where it supposedly wasn't. Then, in his February 2003 column, Paul's question was ".NET: What's in a Name?" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/38048/38048.html). By April 2003, Paul was asking "Is .NET on the Way Out?" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/38851/38851.html). Now in fairness to Paul, his articles primarily focused on .NET as a service- based offering, such as Passport--aka the newly (re?) launched Windows Live (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/misc/11-01LiveSoftwareFS.mspx).
Paul wasn't the only one predicting the death of .NET. The criticism and doubt were industrywide.
Slowly things began to change. In November 2003, Michael Otey asked "Is .NET Dead?" (http://www.windowsitpro.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/40464/40464.html). His conclusion at the time was that .NET was alive and well. He reinforced this point in August 2004 when he wrote, "Microsoft developers, the first adopters of VB.NET, have been using the language for almost 4 years now. Except for support issues, VB 6.0 is off their radar" ("Is VB Dead?" http://www.windowsitpro.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/43158/43158.html). The fact is that .NET adoption was slow, as Tim Huckaby foresaw back in January 2002, before any of these other articles were written.
Where is .NET today? Its adoption rate is higher than ever. In fact, it's over the crest and crashing like a wave. InterKnowlogy and other organizations that specialize in .NET development have more work than they can handle. The IDC research report "2005 Mission Critical Survey." confirms this trend. In this report, IDC makes it clear that .NET adoption is not only doing fine but also impacting every server product and every developer tool that Microsoft produces. In fact, .NET development has become synonymous with new development and has changed the face of developments and the way we use the Web. (Microsoft contracted IDC's Quantitative Research Group to conduct this survey of IT organizations to assess the state of current practices toward mission critical applications. You can download the report at http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/8/a/18a10d4f-deec-4d5e-8b24-87c29c2ec9af/IDC-MS-MissionCritical-WW-261005.pdf.)
So with all this .NET-related success, what are we doing? Well, we're removing .NET from the title of this newsletter. This newsletter discusses topics important to developers--topics that have gone beyond .NET. This newsletter has covered everything from the Team Foundation Server (TFS) to SQL Server to Microsoft Office to AJAX (Microsoft's Atlas project for Dynamic HTML--DHTML). The topics have covered the spectrum of current and bleeding edge technology, and this coverage isn't going to change. Expect future columns to discuss the Windows Presentation, Workflow, and Communication Foundations as well as other elements related to development with the Microsoft suite of tools.
Just like Microsoft removed the .NET moniker from Visual Studio 2005, Visual Basic, and most every product except the actual .NET Framework, it's time to remove the .NET moniker from this newsletter. The idea was mine, so I'll take the blame. In fact, I caught the folks at SQL Server Magazine so off guard that although they like the idea, it'll be a couple issues before you see the changes. One thing we hopefully won't change is our underlying email address "Developer_dotNET_UPDATE" from "lists.sqlmag.com"--there are too many of you who have probably added this email address to your spam exception lists for us to want to change that, even as we change our name to Developer UPDATE.
In addition to the name change, we'll be adding another technical section to the newsletter that focuses on development Q&As or technical tips that you can use. Items in this section will discuss how to solve problems that you might run into when you work with one of the new cutting edge technologies, such as how to access the error message inside the ASP.NET 2.0 login control to display it without forcing a failed login. The goal is to post solutions and tips that cross different technology areas with each issue. (By the way, the solution to my sample problem is to use the controls collection in the Login control.) Initially, we'll probably start with a set of "getting started with .NET development" pieces. After all, rumor has it there are more and more people starting to use this environment. With the release of Visual Studio 2005, it seems like a good time to lay a foundation on building applications and working with the .NET Framework.
You might not like these planned changes. After all, I did suggest to the SQL Server Magazine folks that they charge twice what we currently charge readers for this newsletter. (It's a free newsletter letter, for those who don't get the joke.) So what we'd like is feedback on how we are doing with this change. Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), Karen Bemowski (email@example.com), or Diana May (firstname.lastname@example.org) about what you think or what you'd like us to cover. Maybe you even want to see this newsletter more frequently--a fact that we'd love to tell the advertisers that support us. We'd love your feedback, and we want to make sure we're giving you the information you need and targeting the products you use to develop world-class applications.