REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 28, 2000 — Aric Levin wants to use Microsoft’s Visual Basic enhancements to provide users with downloadable sound effects from any site on the Web and an easy way to track orders from e-commerce sites. Jon Rauschenberger wants to use them to create larger and more robust business-to-business Web applications for his Fortune 500 clients.
Levin and Rauschenberger are top developers at leading technology companies around the country. Beyond their professions, they share excitement about Microsoft’s Visual Basic innovations that will enable developers to create more powerful applications for the Web. Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer announced those innovations earlier this month to thousands of developers gathered at the Visual Basic Insiders Technical Summit (VBITS) conference in San Francisco.
Over the years, the Visual Basic community has grown to 3.2 million developers, representing more than half of all professional developers worldwide. Part of Microsoft’s vision of bringing Next Generation Web Services (NGWS) to the Internet, the Visual Basic innovations announced by Ballmer build on the existing skills of Visual Basic developers. The features, which will be included in the Visual Studio 7.0 development system, include new Web Services, ASP+ Web Forms and Visual Basic language enhancements. They are designed to allow developers to build applications faster and less expensively, and to provide a better Internet user experience for consumers and business users alike. They are also designed to lead to a fully programmable Web that allows applications to work together seamlessly across the Internet the same way the best desktop applications today can work together on a local hard drive.
Visual Basic developers say these new features will make it easier to build more powerful Web applications.
“Microsoft is giving us a faster way of deploying powerful applications for the Web and of cutting our costs and manpower needs, while meeting or exceeding what we can do with alternatives like Java,”
said Levin, director of application development at Westside Technologies, Inc., in Beverly Hills, Calif. and the developer of www.sounddogs.com, a Los Angeles-based Hollywood feature film sound company.
“Microsoft has listened to feedback from us and other developers, and the result is a toolset that nails the problems we’ve seen in the past, that leverages our Visual Basic code with the UNIX and AS400 systems used by some of our corporate clients, and that supports extremely large-scale system integration for business-to-business solutions,”
said Rauschenberger, director of technology for Clarity Consulting, Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm that specializes in high-end business and e-commerce applications for Fortune 500 companies.
A Building Block Approach
One of Microsoft’s key innovations is to add Web Services and in-depth support for XML — the key standard for exchanging information on the Web — to Visual Basic and Visual Studio development products. This will allow developers to employ reusable building blocks of Internet-enabled code to build their Web applications, rather than writing code from scratch. And it’s a familiar model to the army of Visual Basic developers, who already use this approach to create their non-Web applications.
“With Web Services, we now have a great solution for tying together the disparate systems of our clients — a much better solution than Java,”
“We have the flexibility to choose whatever language we want. Web Services enables us to expose our services on the Internet. It’s a perfect fit.”
“Web Services and XML support will enable us to seamlessly integrate Sound Dogs’ offerings into the Web sites of our partners, regardless of their platform,”
“That’s a powerful advantage that delivers on the promise of the Web.”
Reducing Development Time
Microsoft’s new Web Forms technology, to be added to Visual Studio, will make it easier for developers to create new Web applications by letting them drag and drop pre-fabricated controls onto a form, and then double-click on those controls to add whatever special capabilities they require. ASP+ Web Forms also give developers their choice of Visual Studio languages.
Developers say ASP+ Web Forms will dramatically reduce the development time for Web applications.
“In some cases, it will cut that time by a third or even a half of what it takes today,”
“Beyond greater speed, this technology will open up more avenues, letting us do things we can’t do today. We expect a quick adoption rate for ASP+ Web Forms, with many clients wanting us to start using them as soon as Microsoft makes them available to us.”
“This will be a major breakthrough for us because our desktop programmers can easily move into Web development with a much lower learning curve,”
“Basically, we can improve the technical ability of developers themselves and be more flexible with our resources, which translates into lower development costs for our customers.”
Building More Flexible, Robust Applications
Microsoft also plans to update Visual Basic with features that make it a full object-oriented programming language. These features will offer developers a popular way to build large-scale, robust applications that are easier for them to understand, debug and update. The next Visual Basic will deliver the power of languages such as C++ or Java, while maintaining the greater ease of use that has made the product the world’s most popular development tool.
“We’re very impressed with the plans to make Visual Basic an object-oriented language,”
“It eliminates past problems like limited error handling and lack of object-oriented features like inheritance and polymorphism that constrained system design. Now, we’ll be able to build the more flexible, more robust architectures that our clients want.”
“The Visual Basic enhancements scale Visual Basic into an entirely different ball park; they will improve the reliability of our software and the flexibility and reusability of our code,”
“It will significantly lower our development costs, especially for writing components.”
Ballmer said the features he announced earlier this month will give Visual Basic developers the tools they need to create the Internet user experience consumers and businesses want.
“Whether we’re talking about the Everyday Web that enables people to live their lives better, or about the Business Internet that yields unprecedented opportunity and productivity, the third generation of the Web will be light years ahead of anything we’ve seen before,”