Friday, September 23, 2005

Indigo Roadshow

I attended one of the Indigo Roadshow events last night in Columbus, OH. I needed to see Indigo (Windows Communication Foundation) first hand, because I've been way too busy over the past year or so to explore the technology by myself. Even though my one-way drive time was longer than the presentation itself, I still got a lot of value out of it.

I particularly enjoy Microsoft Live Events like this because I find myself starting to think about how I could have used the technology in the creation of my previous projects, and how much easier the development would have been (because that's what software evolution is all about, right? Making it easier to build complex systems with less code).

So, what is WCF ("Indigo")? It's what you'll use starting in 2006 to have applications talk to each other (the communication layer in that whole "SOA" thing). But, most importantly, it works with very little additional coding involved--almost everything in last night's demos were done using attributes and config file entries (i.e., something, like reliability, that would [supposedly] take 100 lines of coding to implement using WSE was performed by simply adding one XML element to the application's config file). It's remoting, socket communications, and web services all rolled into one.

I like the new trend that I'm starting to see in MS products in that you no longer need a web server to host web services. Like SQL Server 2005, WCF offers the ability for your application to create a HTTP endpoint (using http.sys, so be careful if you're using IIS 5.1 on the same machine, because you won't be able to share port 80). This means that your app can host a web service without needing a web server.

The show was presented by Ami Vora and Payam Shodjai, both of Microsoft. A copy of David Pallmann's book Programming "INDIGO" Beta Edition (Microsoft Press) was handed out to each attendee, which appeared to be about 200 - 300 people (rough guess).

I also finally met Drew Robbins, the MS Developer Evangelist for my area. Great guy, but I'm envious of his job. I mean, besides going around talking up MS developer tools all day long, he actually gets paid to attend events like TechEd and PDC (where, I guess there was some dancing involved?)