If it's spring, it must be time for Microsoft TechEd. TechEd 2006 has been in full swing all week in Boston. I couldn't attend this year's festivities, so I'm not going to address any of the big announcements at TechEd 2006. (You can read about TechEd 2006 in WinInfo Daily UPDATE at http://www.windowsitpro.com/departments/departmentid/906/WinInfo_Daily_UPDATE.html.) However, I would like to touch on three other important announcements made this week.
First, Microsoft announced the release of the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals. This upgrade to the client-based Visual Studio Team Suite includes new database management and design tools. The CTP illustrates that the Team Suite isn't a static set of tools. These tools are still being developed and enhanced, and more are on the way. The CTP also illustrates that the tools are well-integrated with Visual Studio 2005 and are Microsoft's latest step toward integrating database development with application development. One challenge in developing large applications has been the somewhat disconnected world of the database. As database development becomes better integrated with Visual Studio 2005, developers need to understand this portion of development.
The tools in the CTP version of the Team Edition for Database Professionals can be grouped into three areas. And I'm hoping that there will be a fourth area in the final release.
The tools in the first area integrate your database objects with Visual Studio 2005. For example, you can leverage Visual Studio 2005's refactoring capabilities on a database object. Let's say you change a column's name. You can have the Team Edition for Database Professionals automatically search out and update every other reference to that column in the database's stored procedures.
The tools in the second area integrate your database with Team Foundation Server to automatically keep your scripts and database objects under version control. Even better, the tools go above and beyond version control. Not only can you import your current database schema directly into the source control system, you can, after you've made some changes, ask the source control engine to generate change scripts based on the differences from the current implementation and what you last imported or released. This is a very cool feature.
The tools in the third area are for testing purposes. The Team Edition for Database Professionals uses an interface to leverage the unit-testing tools that are available in other Team Editions. Thus, you can perform automated unit tests of stored procedures, which lets you treat your database components the same way you would treat any other component in your overall system.
So, what is on my wish list? I'd like to see Microsoft include a really good query analyzer in the final release of the Team Edition for Database Professionals. I'd like to have a query analyzer that reviews a stored procedure or dynamic query and explains why the combination of that query and the tables it accesses creates performance problems. For example, I'm currently working with a company that recently outsourced the creation of a new version of one of its applications. The company got back an application that looked fine, had the requested features, and seemed OK in testing. But in production with an increased user base, performance problems surfaced. As a result, the company has canceled the rollout, except to a small percentage of customers. And the company is scrambling with duct tape and bailing wire to keep the new version up and running for those few customers. The query analyzer on my wish list would go a long way in figuring out the problem with that application. Of all the diagnostic tools that developers could really use, this query analyzer is No. 1 on my wish list.
Because Microsoft expects to officially release the Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals at the end of this year, I doubt if my dream query analyzer will be included. As with the other Team System packages, you can purchase the Team Edition for Database Professionals separately and not have to buy the Visual Studio Team Suite. For more information about the Team Edition for Database Professionals, go to http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/teamsystem/products/dbpro.
The second announcement I want to mention concerns a move that will further equalize the playing field of all developers by increasing confusion. In his blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/archive/2006/06/09/624300.aspx, Soma (S. Somasegar) announced that the WinFx technologies are being moved under the .NET product namespace. The result will be Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0. It's important to note that .NET Framework 3.0 won't include C# 3.0, but instead will rely on C# 2.0. C# 3.0 is expected to be released with Visual Basic (VB) 9.0, which will be part of .NET Framework 4.0 (or whatever Microsoft will call the next version of the Framework that will be released with Orcas, the next version of Visual Studio). Also note that the upgrade path from ASP.NET 2.0 in the .NET Framework 3.0 release will be painless because it will remain ASP.NET 2.0. Given the nature of this information, it's easy to understand why Microsoft chose to announce it through a blog rather than an official press release.
Finally, I like to tell you about Project Glidepath. This project is an evangelistic effort oriented toward providing materials to small partner companies to speed building applications on the Windows Vista platform. The Project Glidepath site went live on June 14. You can land on that Web site by going to http://www.projectglidepath.net.