June 24, 2006
@ 06:35 PM
Categories: WM 2006

June 21, 2006
@ 08:57 AM
In the ongoing MSDN Architecture Webcast Series with broad coverage of all things WCF (see the "Next Generation: .NET Framework 3.0 and Vista" section for archived and upcoming content), I am on today (8AM PST, 11AM EST, 17:00 CET), live from my kitchen table in Germany, with a remix of my "RSS, REST, POX, Sites-as-Services" talks from MIX06 and TechEd.
Categories: Talks | MIX06 | TechEd US | WCF

June 21, 2006
@ 08:39 AM

Cool. I hadn't even seen this demo until now, even though we already have it for a while. Our technical evangelist Craig McMurtry posted the "Digital Fortress" demo, which is an implementation of the computer systems that play major roles in Dan Brown's novel "Digital Fortress". There are several reasons why I find this demo interesting and pretty amusing.

First of all, it has a "Hollywood-Style UI", which is funny. It's got the huge full-screen login screen with a "sort-of-looks-like-the-NSA" logo, a big count-down clock and a "control screen" (below) with the gratuitous graphics and big buttons one might expect. The other thing that's very interesting is that it is a management tools demo (of all things). The key to bust the evil conspiracy is to trace suspicious network activity across many nodes on the network and the script packaged with the demo shows you how to get that done using the built-in WCF tracing facilities. Download.

 

Categories: MSDN | Indigo | WCF

June 20, 2006
@ 09:58 PM
Categories: Other Stuff

The other reason why it's good to be back near my stuff for World Cup watching. Projection surface approx. 3.20m x 1.80m. 

projector.jpg

 

Categories: Other Stuff | WM 2006

June 18, 2006
@ 12:56 PM

[Note to self: Schedule the video taping session early in a bound-to-be-stressful week, not 2 hours before you need to leave for the airport on Friday.]

MSDN TV has a new episode featuring yours truly speaking about WCF bindings (and what they cause in the channel stack).

Categories: MSDN | Indigo | WCF

I was sad when "Indigo" and "Avalon" went away. It'd be great if we'd have a pool of cool legal-approved code-names for which we own the trademark rights and which we could stick to. Think Delphi or Safari. "Indigo" was cool insofar as it was very handy to refer to the technology set, but was removed far enough from the specifics that it doesn't create a sharply defined, product-like island within the larger managed-code landscape or has legacy connotations like "ADO.NET".  Also, my talks these days could be 10 minutes shorter if I could refer to Indigo instead of "Windows Communications Foundation". Likewise, my job title wouldn't have to have a line wrap on the business card of I ever spelled it out in full.

However, when I learned about the WinFX name going away (several weeks before the public announcement) and the new "Vista Wave" technologies (WPF/WF/WCF/WCS) being rolled up under the .NET Framework brand, I was quite happy. Ever since it became clear in 2004 that the grand plan to put a complete, covers-all-and-everything managed API on top (and on quite a bit of the bottom) of everything Windows would have to wait until siginificantly after Vista and that therefore the Win16>Win32>WinFX continuity would not tell the true story, that name made only limited sense to stick to. The .NET Framework is the #1 choice for business applications and a well established brand. People refer to themselves as being "dotnet" developers. But even though the .NET Framework covers a lot of ground and "Indigo", "Avalon", "InfoCard", and "Workflow" are overwhelmingly (or exclusively) managed-code based, there are still quite a few things in Windows Vista that still require using P/Invoke or COM/Interop from managed code or unmanaged code outright. That's not a problem. Something has to manage the managed code and there's no urgent need to rewrite entire subsystems to managed code if you only want to add or revise features. 

So now all the new stuff is now part of the .NET Framework. That is a good, good, good change. This says what it all is.

Admittedly confusing is the "3.0" bit. What we'll ship is a Framework 3.0 that rides on top of the 2.0 CLR and includes the 2.0 versions of the Base-Class Library, Windows Forms, and ASP.NET. It doesn't include the formerly-announced-as-to-be-part-of-3.0 technologies like VB9 (there you have the version number consistency flying out the window outright), C# 3.0, and LINQ. Personally, I think that it might be a tiny bit less confusing if the Framework had a version-number neutral name such as ".NET Framework 2006" which would allow doing what we do now with less potential for confusion, but only a tiny bit. Certainly not enough to stage a war over "2006" vs. "3.0".

It's a matter of project management reality and also one of platform predictability that the ASP.NET, or Windows Forms teams do not and should not ship a full major-version revision of their bits every year. They shipped Whidbey (2.0) in late 2005 and hence it's healthy for them to have boarded the scheduled-to-arrive-in-2007 boat heading to Orcas. We (the "WinFX" teams) subscribed to the Vista ship docking later this year and we bring great innovation which will be preinstalled on every copy of it. LINQ as well as VB9 and C# incorporating it on a language-level are very obviously Visual Studio bound and hence they are on the Orcas ferry as well. The .NET Framework is a steadily growing development platform that spans technologies from the Developer Division, Connected Systems, Windows Server, Windows Client, SQL Server, and other groups, and my gut feeling is that it will become the norm that it will be extended off-cycle from the Developer Division's Visual Studio and CLR releases. Whenever a big ship docks in the port, may it be Office, SQL, BizTalk, Windows Server, or Windows Client, and as more and more of the still-unmanaged Win32/Win64 surface area gets wrapped, augmented or replaced by managed-code APIs over time and entirely new things are added, there might be bits that fit into and update the Framework.  

So one sane way to think about the .NET Framework version number is that it merely labels the overall package and not the individual assemblies and components included within it. Up to 2.0 everything was pretty synchronized, but given the ever-increasing scale of the thing, it's good to think of that being a lucky (even if intended) coindicence of scheduling. This surely isn't the first time that packages were versioned independently of their components. There was and is no reason for the ASP.NET team to gratuitously recompile their existing bits with a new version number just to have the GAC look pretty and to create the illusion that everything is new - and to break Visual Studio compatibility in the process.

Of course, once we cover 100% of the Win32 surface area, we can rename it all into WinFX again ;-)  (just kidding)

[All the usual "personal opinion" disclaimers apply to this post]

Update: Removed reference to "Win64".

Categories: IT Strategy | Technology | ASP.NET | Avalon | CLR | Indigo | Longhorn | WCF | Windows

I've been quoted as to have said so at TechEd and I'll happily repeat it: "XML is the assembly language of Web 2.0", even though some (and likely some more) disagree. James Speer writes "Besides, Assembly Language is hard, XML isn’t." , which I have to disagree with.

True, throwing together some angle brackets isn't the hardest thing in the world, but beating things into the right shape is hard and probably even harder than in assembly. Yes, one can totally, after immersing oneself in the intricacies of Schema, write complex types and ponder for days and months about the right use of attributes and elements. It's absolutely within reach for a WSDL zealot to code up messages, portTypes and operations by hand. But please, if you think that's the right way to do things, I also demand that you write and apply your security policy in angle bracket notation from the top of your head and generate WCF config from that using svcutil instead of just throwing a binding together, because XML is so easy. Oh? Too hard? Well, it turns out that except for our developers and testers who are focusing on getting these mappings right, nobody on our product team would probably ever even want to try writing such a beast by hand for any code that sits above the deep-down guts of our stack. This isn't the fault of the specifications (or people here being ignorant), but it's a function of security being hard and the related metadata being complex. Similar things, even though the complexity isn't quite as extreme there, can be said about the other extensions to the policy framework such as WS-RM Policy or those for WS-AT.

As we're getting to the point where full range of functionality covered by WS-* specifications is due to hit the mainstream by us releasing WCF and our valued competitors releasing their respective implementations, hand-crafted contracts will become increasingly meaningless, because it's beyond the capacity of anyone whose job it is to build solutions for their customers to write complete set of contracts that not only ensures simple data interop but also protocol interop. Just as there were days that all you needed was assembly and INT21h to write a DOS program (yikes) or knowledge of "C" alongside stdio.h and fellows to write anything for everthing, things are changing now in the same way in Web Services land. Command of XSD and WSDL is no longer sufficient, all the other stuff is just as important to make things work.

Our WCF [DataContract] doesn't support attributes. That's a deliberate choice because we want to enforce simplicity and enhance interoperability of schemas. We put an abstraction over XSD and limit the control over it, because we want to simplify the stuff that goes across the wire. We certainly allow everyone to use the XmlSerializer with all of it's attribute based fine-grained control over schema, even though there are quite a few Schema constructs that even that doesn't support when building schema from such metadata. If you choose to, you can just ignore all of our serialization magic and fiddle with the XML Infoset outright and supply your own schema. However, XML and Schema are specifications that everyone and their dog wanted to get features into and Schema is hopelessly overengineered. Ever since we all (the industry, not only MS) boarded the SOAP/WS train, we're debating how to constrain the features of that monster to a reasonable subset that makes sense and the debate doesn't want to end.

James writes that he "take[s] a lot of care in terms of elements vs. attributes and mak[es] sure the structure of the XML is business-document-like", which only really makes sense if XML documents used in WS scenarios were meant for immediate human consumption, which they're not.

We want to promote a model that is simple and consistent to serialize to and from on any platform and that things like the differentiation between attributes and elements doesn't stand in the way of allowing a 1:1 mapping into alternate, non-XML serialization formats such as JSON or what-have-you (most of which don't care about that sort of differentiation).  James' statement about "business-document-like" structures is also interesting considering EDIFACT, X.12 or SWIFT, all of which only know records, fields and values, and don't care about that sort of subtle element/attribute differentation, either. (Yes, no of those might be "hip" any more, but they are implemented and power a considerable chunk of the world economy's data exchange).

By now, XML is the foundation for everything that happens on the web, and I surely don't want to have it go away. But have arrived at the point where matters have gotten so complicated that a layer of abstraction over pretty much all things XML has become a necessity for everyone who makes their money building customer solutions and not by teaching or writing about XML. In my last session at TechEd, I asked a room of about 200 people "Who of you hand-writes XSLT transforms?" 4 hands. "Who of you used to hand-write XSLT transforms?" 40+ hands. I think it's safe to assume that a bunch of those folks who have sworn off masochism and no longer hand-code XSLT are now using tools like the BizTalk Mapper or Altova's MapForce, which means that XSL/T is alive and kicking, but only downstairs in the basement. However, the abstractions that these tools provide also allow bypassing XSLT altogether and generate the transformation logic straight into compiled C++, Java, or C# code, which is what MapForce offers. WSDL is already walking down that path.

Categories: TechEd US | Indigo | WCF | Web Services

A lot of people loved the party location choice for this year's TechEd: Boston's Fenway Park. For anyone even less familiar with the sport that is so American that the Americans run the World Championship every year without even bothering to ask anybody not from North America whether they'd be willing to participate in it: Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox Baseball team.

Anyways ... I felt like an Atheist in the Vatican. Even though I've already lived in New York for two years, which might be the best place to come as an foreigner if you want to be opportunistic and adopt a local team as your favorite (however, Steve Forte, a big Mets fan would not speak to me if I'd root for the Yankees) I couldn't bring up a lot of interest for the sport and I doubt that that will change a lot in Seattle where I'll move some time this summer. The Green Monster meant nothing to me ("How can you not know about it!?"), sitting the visitor's dugout didn't do much for me, and so on. I mean, my only distant relationship to Baseball is that I am battling for a higher search rank on LiveYahoo and Google with baseball super-star Roger Clemens. ;-) The concert with the band Train was very cool.

Now, I hear that there are discussions about getting rid of Fenway Park for a new stadium, and given that it is obviously such a historical site, I hope it's spared the fate of my home town Mönchengladbach's Bökelbergstadion, home of my team Borussia (Wikipedia) and the site of 5 German Bundesliga championships, which was recently replaced with the (great!) new stadium Borussia-Park. (To turn things around, I wouldn't forgive Forte if he rooted for Bayern).

While I am at it: Great performance yesterday at the wild Italy-USA 1:1 World Cup game by our Borussia goalie Kasey "The Wall" Keller.

Categories: TechEd US

Wow. I am so happy to be back home. Not because of TechEd, but because of the Football (sic!) World Cup TV coverage over in the U.S. (luckily I have my TV everywhere solution which made it less of a problem). I wholeheartedly agree with comments around the web on how bad the commentators are. They have no idea of the game, keep chatting and chatting and chatting cluelessly without giving anyone a break. Seems they are paid by words spoken. Adding to the misery are the annoying black score and advertising bars and the news scroll on the bottom of the screen on ESPN2 and occasional huge graphics inserts that obscure a third of the screen -- and the game.

Of course, if NBC had the rights, they would - if the experience with the Olympic Games coverage on their network were any indicator - show all games with a 3 hour time delay and only in a 20 minute summary and would add 60 minutes of reports about how the players have overcome hardships like smelly feet, great-grandma's untimely departure 5 months before the games, the common cold or maybe even Ebola.

Categories: WM 2006

Here's the sample code from my CON423 session about selecting bindings here at TechEd.

Categories: TechEd US

June 13, 2006
@ 07:14 PM

empox v. (ĕm-pŏks)
      1. The act of adding POX endpoints to an application.

Categories: Other Stuff

My first of two sessions this week here at TechEd is on Thursday, at 2:45pm in room 153ABC on "Designing Bindings and Contracts".

I realize that the title sounds a bit abstract and a different way to put this would be "How to choose the correct bindings and what to consider about contracts in a variety of architectual scenarios", but that would have been a bit long as a title. in the talk I'll explain the system-defined bindings that we ship in the product so that we've got stuff to work with and then I'll get out the tablet pen and draw up a bunch of scenarios and how our bindings (read: communication options) make sense in those. What's the best choice for N-Tier inside and outside of the corporate perimeter, what do you do for queueing-style apps, how do you implement volatile or durable 1:1 pub/sub, how do you implement broadcasts and where do they make sense, etc.

Categories: Architecture | Indigo | WCF

We've just released the "Windows Communication Foundation RSS Toolkit" on our new community site. This toolkit, which comes with complete source code, illustrates how to expose ATOM and RSS feeds through WCF endpoints. I will discuss the toolkit in my session CON339, Room 107ABC, Friday 10:45am here at TechEd.

Categories: TechEd US | Indigo | WCF

Just so that you know: In addition to the regular breakout sessions, we have a number of interactive chalk talks scheduled here at the Connected Systems Technical Learning Center in the Expo Hall. Come by.

Categories: TechEd US | Technology | Indigo | WCF | Workflow

June 12, 2006
@ 12:48 PM

This is my first TechEd! - as a Microsoft employee. It's of course not my first tech event in my new job (Egypt, Jordan, UK, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Las Vegas/USA, Slovenia, and Israel are on the year-to-date list - on top of three long-distance commutes to Redmond), but the big TechEds are always special. It'll be fun. Come by the Connected Systems area in the exhibition hall and find me to chat if you are here in Boston.

Frankly, I didn't expect a Sunday night keynote to be nearly as well attended as it was, but it looks that experiment mostly worked. The theme of the keynote were Microsoft's 4 Core Promises for IT Pros and Developers nicely wrapped into a video story based on the TV show "24" and with that show's IT superwoman Chloe O'Brian (actress Mary Lynn Rajskub) up on stage with Bob Muglia (our team's VP far up above in my chain of command), who acted as the MC for the show. Finally we got an apology from a Hollywood character for all the IT idiocy the put up on screen. Thanks, Chloe.

Our team has a lot of very cool stuff to talk about at this show. The first highlight is John Justice's WCF Intro talk (Session CON208, Room 157ABC) today at 5:00pm with a "meet the team" panel Q&A session at the end. Block the time.

Categories: Technology | Indigo | WCF

Late last night, my colleague James Conard, who has worked and worked and worked tirelessly on this for the past few months and has shown great patience with a big group of people pulling into all sorts of directions as we got this together has flipped the switch to turn on the new .NET Framework 3.0 community portal family at netfx3.com

The new Windows Communication Foundation community home is at http://wcf.netfx3.com and it's a great improvement over the small, hastily-thown-together site that we used to have. There'll be a number of news bits and announcements throughout and after TechEd at the new site, so it might be a good idea to subscribe to the feed now. 

My official "Welcome!" post over on the new site is here, the James' site-wide welcome message can be found here.

Categories: Indigo | WCF

June 9, 2006
@ 06:01 PM

Two killer goals (1:0 and 4:2), one clear offside goal against us and a ref who likes to be in the player's way. Entertaining, fun, won. Next one, please.

Categories: WM 2006

... or as Pluralsight's main security dude and newly crowned MSDN guest editor Keith Brown calls it more formally: Identity and Access Management Developer Center on MSDN.
Categories: MSDN

Doug Purdy, our Group Program Manager, runs a wodge of home-cooked code every now and then to produce the link list below. I thought that you all out there might find that valuable and therefore I stole a copy of the list for you.

Workflow
Passivation (Dehydration, Unloading) Policy [5/19/2006 4:38:00 PM] -- Advanced Workflow: Enabling Tricky Scenarios
A couple of great new workflow articles [5/29/2006 3:28:00 PM] -- Paul Andrew
WinFX Beta 2 is Released [5/23/2006 6:20:00 PM] -- Paul Andrew
Bill Gates exec email mentions Windows Workflow Foundation [5/17/2006 9:11:00 AM] -- Paul Andrew
Define and execute WF rules on any target object [5/21/2006 11:50:00 AM] -- Moustafa Khalil Ahmed's Space
Services and the Business/IT Gap [5/30/2006 8:30:59 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
WorkflowDesigner hosting and Rules [6/1/2006 11:13:15 PM] -- Jon Flanders' Blog
WorkflowInstance.GetWorkflowDefinition [6/1/2006 10:27:50 PM] -- Jon Flanders' Blog
Absolutely - I am a Quicklearn instructor - this proves it [5/25/2006 10:49:02 AM] -- Jon Flanders' Blog
WF and Serialization Part One [5/23/2006 9:42:25 AM] -- Jon Flanders' Blog
Dave Green on using workflow [5/17/2006 9:40:10 AM] -- Jon Flanders' Blog
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Bracha and Bray on Continuations [5/20/2006 7:11:00 AM] -- Don Box's Spoutlet
WinFX Beta2 has officially shipped [5/23/2006 11:03:05 PM] -- OhmBlog
WF Q & A [5/23/2006 8:18:00 AM] -- Jeffrey Schlimmer's Blog
VSlive 2006 [5/18/2006 2:14:00 PM] -- Welcome to The Metaverse
Biztalk WSE 3.0 Adapter Ships [5/23/2006 9:21:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
TechEd 2006: WCF and WF Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 9:42:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog
TechEd 2006 - Chalk Talks on Custom Channels [5/20/2006 7:43:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog

Transactions
Passivation (Dehydration, Unloading) Policy [5/19/2006 4:38:00 PM] -- Advanced Workflow: Enabling Tricky Scenarios
WF and Serialization Part One [5/23/2006 9:42:25 AM] -- Jon Flanders' Blog
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Webcasts in June [5/31/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Versioning for Addresses, Envelopes, and Messages [5/30/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Creating Custom Bindings [5/25/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
An alternative "WCF to IBM Mainframe CICS" approach [6/1/2006 10:27:00 AM] -- distilled
WinFX Beta 2 is out there [5/23/2006 8:19:00 AM] -- distilled
Rev your transaction engines for WinFX Beta 2 [5/22/2006 9:53:00 PM] -- distilled

Indigo
WinFX Beta 2 is Released [5/23/2006 6:20:00 PM] -- Paul Andrew
So What Is A WCF Configuration Extension Anyways? [5/26/2006 10:44:00 AM] -- Mark Gabarra's Blog
Nothing this week [5/16/2006 12:05:00 PM] -- Mark Gabarra's Blog
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Look, look, my blog is on MSDN [5/26/2006 9:19:11 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Lost questions [5/17/2006 11:23:21 PM] -- Brain.Save()
TS-5540 Summary by an audience [5/30/2006 6:08:51 PM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Webcasts in June [5/31/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Versioning for Addresses, Envelopes, and Messages [5/30/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Choosing a Transport [5/24/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Today's Real News: Beta 2 Released [5/23/2006 12:00:00 PM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Resources for Channel Authors [5/17/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Building a Custom Message Encoder to Record Throughput, Part 4 [5/16/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Impersonation for Hosted Services [5/18/2006 2:19:00 AM] -- Wenlong Dong's Blog
WinFX Beta2 has officially shipped [5/23/2006 11:03:05 PM] -- OhmBlog
UnREST over WS-* and other "enterprisey" things [5/17/2006 8:38:54 AM] -- TheArchitect.co.uk - Jorgen Thelin's weblog
httpcfg Flag Weirdness [5/16/2006 6:18:00 AM] -- Musings from Gudge
VSlive 2006 [5/18/2006 2:14:00 PM] -- Welcome to The Metaverse
WSE 3.0 in June 2006 MSDN Magazine [5/23/2006 10:07:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
Biztalk WSE 3.0 Adapter Ships [5/23/2006 9:21:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
TechEd 2006: WCF and WF Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 9:42:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog
Beta2 of WinFX Runtime Components v3.0 now available [5/23/2006 1:43:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog
TechEd 2006 - Chalk Talks on Custom Channels [5/20/2006 7:43:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog
An alternative "WCF to IBM Mainframe CICS" approach [6/1/2006 10:27:00 AM] -- distilled
WinFX Beta 2 is out there [5/23/2006 8:19:00 AM] -- distilled
Rev your transaction engines for WinFX Beta 2 [5/22/2006 9:53:00 PM] -- distilled

Standards/Protocols
Define and execute WF rules on any target object [5/21/2006 11:50:00 AM] -- Moustafa Khalil Ahmed's Space
So What Is A WCF Configuration Extension Anyways? [5/26/2006 10:44:00 AM] -- Mark Gabarra's Blog
Microsoft Architect Connections (MSAC) [6/1/2006 7:38:00 AM] -- Service Station, by Aaron Skonnard
Autonomy isn't Autonomy - and a few words about Caching. [6/1/2006 7:18:43 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Services and the Business/IT Gap [5/30/2006 8:30:59 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Look, look, my blog is on MSDN [5/26/2006 9:19:11 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Blogging from Office 12 [5/27/2006 6:40:22 AM] -- Brain.Save()
Hanselminutes Podcast 19 [5/31/2006 12:15:40 AM] -- ComputerZen.com - Scott Hanselman
Hanselminutes Podcast 18 [5/25/2006 9:26:25 PM] -- ComputerZen.com - Scott Hanselman
Subtle Behaviors in the XML Serializer can kill [5/24/2006 11:44:25 PM] -- ComputerZen.com - Scott Hanselman
Articles on Sun/Microsoft interoperability [5/18/2006 1:16:35 AM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
Introducing wsit.dev.java.net [5/16/2006 5:23:06 PM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
Ballmer makes Microsoft's case to Wall Street [5/31/2006 6:48:00 AM] -- Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog @ SeattlePI.com
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Inside the Standard Bindings: BasicHttp [6/1/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Webcasts in June [5/31/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Versioning for Addresses, Envelopes, and Messages [5/30/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Choosing a Transport [5/24/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Resources for Channel Authors [5/17/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Building a Custom Message Encoder to Record Throughput, Part 4 [5/16/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Impersonation for Hosted Services [5/18/2006 2:19:00 AM] -- Wenlong Dong's Blog
Developers fail to care about one sided religious war [5/25/2006 4:56:51 PM] -- Marc's space terminal
Don't be that guy (EPR version) [5/22/2006 3:07:32 PM] -- Marc's space terminal
VB9 and Atom [5/17/2006 9:27:00 PM] -- Don Box's Spoutlet
On the C# 3.0 Preview: Some Thoughts on LINQ [5/17/2006 6:35:13 AM] -- Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life
UnREST over WS-* and other "enterprisey" things [5/17/2006 8:38:54 AM] -- TheArchitect.co.uk - Jorgen Thelin's weblog
So you want to learn WSE 3.0? A short primer on how and where to start. [5/25/2006 8:49:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
Biztalk WSE 3.0 Adapter Ships [5/23/2006 9:21:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
Beta2 of WinFX Runtime Components v3.0 now available [5/23/2006 1:43:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog
WS-Policy Working Group [6/2/2006 5:50:09 AM] -- Chris Ferris
Two articles, one good and one bad... [5/19/2006 7:30:00 AM] -- XML Nation

REST
Microsoft Architect Connections (MSAC) [6/1/2006 7:38:00 AM] -- Service Station, by Aaron Skonnard
Developers fail to care about one sided religious war [5/25/2006 4:56:51 PM] -- Marc's space terminal
Windows Live Gadgets SDK Released [5/26/2006 11:09:15 AM] -- Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life
New Version of Windows Live Local Shipped [5/24/2006 10:12:31 AM] -- Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life
My Microsoft [5/18/2006 12:33:29 PM] -- TheArchitect.co.uk - Jorgen Thelin's weblog

POX
Microsoft Architect Connections (MSAC) [6/1/2006 7:38:00 AM] -- Service Station, by Aaron Skonnard
Choosing a Transport [5/24/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog

SOA
Autonomy isn't Autonomy - and a few words about Caching. [6/1/2006 7:18:43 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Services and the Business/IT Gap [5/30/2006 8:30:59 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Putting the User back into SOA - my first ARCast! [5/19/2006 11:36:00 AM] -- simon.says
Two articles, one good and one bad... [5/19/2006 7:30:00 AM] -- XML Nation
Noted [6/1/2006 8:51:06 AM] -- Barry Briggs' Weblog

Web Services
Autonomy isn't Autonomy - and a few words about Caching. [6/1/2006 7:18:43 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Services and the Business/IT Gap [5/30/2006 8:30:59 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Look, look, my blog is on MSDN [5/26/2006 9:19:11 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
TS-5540 Summary by an audience [5/30/2006 6:08:51 PM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
JavaOne 2006 TS-5540 Slides [5/23/2006 11:31:05 AM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
JavaOne 2006 - Project Tango Keynote Demo [5/17/2006 1:20:43 AM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Webcasts in June [5/31/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Versioning for Addresses, Envelopes, and Messages [5/30/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Developers fail to care about one sided religious war [5/25/2006 4:56:51 PM] -- Marc's space terminal
Windows Live Gadgets SDK Released [5/26/2006 11:09:15 AM] -- Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life
So you want to learn WSE 3.0? A short primer on how and where to start. [5/25/2006 8:49:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
Biztalk WSE 3.0 Adapter Ships [5/23/2006 9:21:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
An alternative "WCF to IBM Mainframe CICS" approach [6/1/2006 10:27:00 AM] -- distilled
[ANN] Tungsten 1.0 - Web services platform [5/24/2006 2:06:44 PM] -- Davanum Srinivas' weblog
Web Services are Dead, Long Live Web Services [5/25/2006 6:43:37 AM] -- mnot’s Web log
WS-Policy Working Group [6/2/2006 5:50:09 AM] -- Chris Ferris
Two articles, one good and one bad... [5/19/2006 7:30:00 AM] -- XML Nation

Remoting
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions

WSE
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
WCF Webcasts in June [5/31/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Resources for Channel Authors [5/17/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
So you want to learn WSE 3.0? A short primer on how and where to start. [5/25/2006 8:49:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
WSE 3.0 in June 2006 MSDN Magazine [5/23/2006 10:07:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog
Biztalk WSE 3.0 Adapter Ships [5/23/2006 9:21:00 PM] -- Mark Fussell's WebLog

COM/MTS/COM+/EnterpriseService
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog

IIS
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions
Choosing a Transport [5/24/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
Building a Custom Message Encoder to Record Throughput, Part 4 [5/16/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
WCF Impersonation for Hosted Services [5/18/2006 2:19:00 AM] -- Wenlong Dong's Blog

MSMQ/System.Messaging
Is .NET Remoting Dead? [5/26/2006 9:19:17 AM] -- Clemens Vasters: Enterprise Development and Alien Abductions

Serialization
Subtle Behaviors in the XML Serializer can kill [5/24/2006 11:44:25 PM] -- ComputerZen.com - Scott Hanselman

Security
Introducing wsit.dev.java.net [5/16/2006 5:23:06 PM] -- Arun Gupta's Blog
TechEd 2006 Chalk Talk Schedule [6/2/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
UnREST over WS-* and other "enterprisey" things [5/17/2006 8:38:54 AM] -- TheArchitect.co.uk - Jorgen Thelin's weblog
VSlive 2006 [5/18/2006 2:14:00 PM] -- Welcome to The Metaverse
TechEd 2006 - Chalk Talks on Custom Channels [5/20/2006 7:43:00 PM] -- Kavitak's WebLog

AJAX
CEO Schmidt on question of Google browser [5/31/2006 11:46:00 AM] -- Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog @ SeattlePI.com
WCF Webcasts in June [5/31/2006 2:00:00 AM] -- Nicholas Allen's Indigo Blog
[ANN] Tungsten 1.0 - Web services platform [5/24/2006 2:06:44 PM] -- Davanum Srinivas' weblog

System.Net
VB9 and Atom [5/17/2006 9:27:00 PM] -- Don Box's Spoutlet

Categories: WCF | Workflow

My PM colleague Nicholas Allen is certainly on my list for "best blogging newcomer of 2006".  He started in February, got hooked, and I am not sure whether he actually did leave the keyboard since then.

Nicholas just started a blog series that explains the system-defined (formely known as: standard-) bindings that we ship with WCF. He's got three of them explained now and my guess is that there are more to follow:

While you are there, make sure to subscribe to Nicholas' feed and also take a look around and look at earlier posts. His channel category is a gold mine and the same can be said of the transports and ... everything there is fabulous stuff.

Categories: Indigo | WCF

June 6, 2006
@ 08:35 PM

I'm running Vista since Sunday.

Surprised? I mean, are you surprised that I haven't been running Vista for the last several months already? Realistically, given I am one of a very small group of members of the greater Indigo team who telecommute across the Atlantic, running early bits that host all of my work tools including email and RAS/VPN lifeline with all the SmartCard drivers was a pretty big risk that I wasn't willing to take up to Beta 2 and until a reasonably large number of folks assured me that Vista worked ok for them. Selfhosting prerelease bits is everyone's individual decision at Microsoft and while many people are very happy beta testers, there is a business to be run as well.

All that said, I have made the move on the "upgrade from XP path" and as more and more of the stuff on my disk gets indexed for search and as I start remembering the new ways to do things, I increasingly like it. Really. All the essential stuff works and even something much less important such as Media Center on my Tablet PC with a USB DVB-T receiver worked right away without any hiccup in setup. I am actually pretty impressed.

Categories: Windows

Christian Weyer stars in a new episode of the German dotnetproTV series and masterfully explains the Windows Communication Foundation. If you don't understand German, you may still enjoy Christian's flip-chart skills and overall good looks. ;-)

Christian Weyer – Microsoft Regional Director und allgemein anerkannter und geschätzter Web Services Erklärbar – ist der  Star der neuesten dotnetproTV Episode zum Thema Windows Communication Foundation. Ich habe mir die Episode gerade angesehen und … Holla die Waldfee! … das ist einer der besten Überblicke zu WCF, die ich bisher gesehen habe! Und der Dialog mit Ralf Westphal ist natürlich kurzweilig und interessant wie immer. Hut ab!

Und weil mir das Thema natürlich am Herzen liegt bin ich sehr froh, daß dotnetpro für diese Folge nicht nur einen „Teaser“ zur Verfügung stellt, sondern Christians ganze Show in der ganzen 370MB großen Herrlichkeit (der Link zum Video ist in der orangefarbenen Kiste hier auf der Seite). Runterladen! Gucken!

Categories: Indigo | WCF

One Dream. Starting Friday.

Categories: WM 2006

A question that is raised quite often in the context of “SOA” is that of how to deal with data.  Specifically, people are increasingly interested in (and concerned about) appropriate caching strategies. What I see described in that context is often motivated by the fundamental misunderstanding that the SO tenet that speaks about ”automony” is perceived to mean “autonomous computing” while it really means “avoid coupling”. The former is an architecture prescription, the latter is just a statement about the quality of a network edge.

I will admit that it the use of “autonomy” confused me for a while as well. Specifically, in my 5/2004 “Data Services” post, I’ve shown principles of autonomous computing and how there is a benefit to loose coupling at the network edge when combined with autonomous computing principles, but at the time I did not yet fully understand how orthogonal those two things really are. I guess that one of the aspects of blogging is that you’ve got to be ready to learn and evolve your knowledge in front of all people. Mind that I stand by the architectural patterns and the notion of data services that I explained in that post, except for the notion that the “Autonomy” SO tenet speaks about autonomous computing.

The picture here illustrates the difference. By autonomous computing principles the left shape of the service is “correct”. The service is fully autonomous and protects its state. That’s a model that’s strictly following the Fiefdoms/Emissaries idea that Pat Helland formulated a few years back. Very many applications look like the shape on the right. There are a number of services sticking up that share a common backend store. That’s not following autonomous computing principles. However, if you look across the top, you’ll see that the endpoints (different colors, different contracts) look precisely alike from the outside for both pillars. That’s the split: Autonomous computing talks very much about how things are supposed to look behind your service boundary (which is not and should not be anyone’s business but yours) and service orientation really talks about you being able to hide any kind of such architectural decision between a loosely coupled network edge. The two ideas compose well, but they are not the same, at all.

Which leads me to the greater story: In terms of software architecture, “SOA” introduces very little new. All distributed systems patterns that have evolved since the 1960 stay true. I haven’t really seen any revolutionary new architecture pattern come out since we speak about Web Services. Brokers, Intermediaries, Federators, Pub/Sub, Queuing, STP, Conversations – all of that has been known for a long time. We’ve just commonly discovered that loose coupling is a quality that’s worth something.

In all reality, the “SOA” hype is about the notion of aligning business functions with software in order to streamline integration. SOA doesn’t talk about software architecture; in other words: SOA does not talk about how to shape the mechanics of a system. From a software architecture perspective, any notion of an “SOA revolution” is complete hogwash. From a Business/IT convergence perspective – to drive analysis and high-level design – there’s meat in the whole story, but I see the SOA term being used mostly for describing technology pieces. “We are building a SOA” really means “we are building a distributed system and we’re trying to make all parts loosely coupled to the best of our abilities”. Whether that distributed system is indeed aligned with the business functions is a wholly different story.

However, I digress. Coming back to the data management issue, it’s clear that a stringent autonomous computing design introduces quite a few challenges in terms of data management. Data consolidation across separate stores for the purposes of reporting requires quite a bit of special consideration and so does caching of data. When the data for a system is dispersed across a variety of stores and comes together only through service channels without the ability to freely query across the data stores and those services are potentially “far” away in terms of bandwidth and latency, data management becomes considerably more difficult than in a monolithic app with a single store. However, this added complexity is a function of choosing to make the service architecture follow autonomous computing principles, not one of how to shape the service edge and whether you use service orientation principles to implement it.

To be clear: I continue to believe that aligning data storage with services is a good thing. It is an additional strategy for looser coupling between services and allows the sort of data patterns and flexibility that I have explained in the post I linked to above. However, “your mileage may vary” is as true here as anywhere. For some scenarios, tightly coupling services in the backyard might be the right thing to do. That’s especially true for “service-enabling” existing applications. All these architectural considerations are, however, strictly orthogonal to the tenets of SO.

Generally, my advice with respect to data management in distributed systems is to handle all data explicitly as part of the application code and not hide data management in some obscure interception layer. There are a lot of approaches that attempt to hide complex caching scenarios away from application programmers by introducing caching magic on the call/message path. That is a reasonable thing to do, if the goal is to optimize message traffic and the granularity that that gives you is acceptable. I had a scenario where that was a just the right fit in one of my last newtelligence projects. Be that as it may, proper data management, caching included, is somewhat like the holy grail of distributed computing and unless people know what they’re doing, it’s dangerous to try to hide it away.

That said, I believe that it is worth a thought to make caching a first-class consideration in any distributed system where data flows across boundaries. If it’s known at the data source that a particular record or set of records won’t be updated until 1200h tomorrow (many banks, for instance, still do accounting batch runs just once or twice daily) then it is helpful to flow that information alongside the data to allow any receiver determine the caching strategy for the particular data item(s). Likewise, if it’s know that a record or record set is unlikely to change or even guaranteed to not change within an hour/day/week/month or if some staleness of that record is typically acceptable, the caching metadata can indicate an absolute or relative time instant at which the data has to be considered stale and possibly a time instant at which it absolutely expires and must be cleaned from any cache. Adding caching hints to each record or set of records allows clients to make a lot better informed decisions about how to deal with that data. This is ultimately about loose coupling and giving every participant of a distributed system enough information to make their own decisions about how to deal with things.

Which leaves the question about where to cache stuff. The instant “obvious best idea” is to hold stuff in memory. However, if the queries into the cached data become more complex than “select all” or reasonably simple hashtable lookups, it’s not too unlikely that, if you run on Windows, a local SQL Server (-Express) instance holding the cache data will do as good or better (increasingly with data volume) compared a custom query “engine” in terms of performance – even if it serves data out from memory. That’s especially true for caching frameworks that can be written within the time/budget of a typical enterprise project. Besides, long-lived cached data whose expiration window exceeds the lifetime of the application instance needs a home, too. One of the bad caching scenarios is that the network gets saturated at 8 in the morning when everybody starts up their smart client apps and tries to suck the central database dry at once – that’s what in-memory database approaches cause.

Categories: Architecture