It's the end of January here in lovely Gig Harbor, Washington, and I am sitting here contemplating what happened in 2007 and what is about to happen in 2008.

Silverlight Awes the Masses

In March 2007, Microsoft unveiled their “Flash Killer”… Silverlight 1.1 (now 2.0). Silverlight is a new browser plug-in that blends XAML and the CLR runtime into a compact browser plug in. It runs in IE, Firefox, and Safari (on the Mac to boot!). By the time you read this, Microsoft will lift the curtains on the next revision of Silverlight, which I expect will have a more robust set of controls than version 1.1 and a more fleshed out version of the .NET Framework embedded into the Silverlight plug in.

Visual Studio 2008 Ships!

Of course, one of the biggest events of 2007 for developers is that Microsoft released Visual Studio 2008, formerly known as “Orcas.” Visual Studio 2008 has a ton of IDE and language features that developers will love and that we will definitely cover here in CoDe Magazine. The biggest areas include: LINQ, LINQ to SQL, LINQ to XML, JavaScript debugging in the Visual Studio IDE, JavaScript IntelliSense, better CSS support for Web development, numerous language changes to VB and C#, and others. One feature that warrants acknowledgement is the radical improvement of the ASP.NET Web Forms design time experience. The Visual Studio 2005 IDE has some serious performance issues when keeping the design surface and property sheets in sync. Visual Studio 2008 fixes this problem making it the one feature that I find most compelling. JavaScript debugging is pretty cool too. If you spend any time building Web 2.0-style applications, this feature is mucho cool.

SQL Server 2008 Doesn't Ship!

In reality I am happy that Microsoft has not shipped SQL Server 2008 yet. It took my clients until 2007 to move to SQL Server 2005. My clients need more time to exploit the capabilities of SQL Server 2005 before they dive into yet another upgrade. Also, companies have a very high expectation of quality for SQL Server so giving the SQL Server team more time for debugging and performance tuning is a good thing.

SharePoint Replaces Microsoft Access

Not really...but I bet that caught your attention! (

SharePoint deployments are on the rise and as a developer, you need to spend time recognizing the distinct capabilities of SharePoint and how it fits into your enterprise. In my opinion, SharePoint represents a tool that can replace functionality that people traditionally use Microsoft Access for. You can build and deploy simple applications with little effort. As a tool for building small workgroup-based applications, while SharePoint cannot do everything that ASP.NET can (as some have suggested) it rivals Microsoft Access, which many groups have used to create workgroup functionality in the past.

Workflow Captures Mindshare

Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) is by far one of the biggest stories of 2007. Microsoft has created a platform for integrating workflow into your applications with a very robust and extensible workflow foundation. WF features a set of workflow classes accompanied by a visual workflow designer that makes integrating workflow relatively painless. Not only did Microsoft create a great set of tools but they deployed it inside of SharePoint 2007. All applications contain some type of workflow. My own company creates tons of custom workflow solutions for financial companies. I can definitely see value in incorporating Workflow Foundation into our development process.


When I first started writing .NET code, I spent countless hours on GotDotNet looking at sample code provided by other .NET developers. It was a great site for sharing applications. But like many good things it needed to be replaced by something better….


This week (end of January 2008) Microsoft released a new code sharing Web site,, to replace the code sharing capabilities that many developers grew to love on The new site follows a theme similar to CodePlex with one major difference: you can upload to by simply clicking a button whereas uploading code to CodePlex required that you use a source control client. Developers will set up sites known as resources where they can post sample code, collaborate with other members of the community, and in general have a place to organize and maintain their code samples. This is a very cool development.

As you can see, 2007 was not a bad year for developers and 2008 will be as good or better with the release of the next version of Silverlight, a new (fully baked) version of SQL Server, and more development of the MVC Framework for agile developers.

Along with some great software developments we will see the return of a new Professional Developers Conference (PDC). I have been to the last three PDCs and find it a great event to see what Microsoft has in store for us in the coming years. Along with PDC there are other great learning events like DevTeach, DevConnectipons, Tech Ed, and another ALT.NET conference, this time in Redmond, WA.