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C# 4.0: Meet the Design Team

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What's the C# team up to these days? Who's on the C# 4.0 design team, anyway? With the looming problem of manycore facing developers now and certainly in the near future (to a much greater extent - programming for 80 core (asymmetric to boot) processors, anyone?). I thought it was time to find out what Anders et al are working on to get a clear sense of C#'s near (and not-so-near) future so I asked if I could come to one of their design meetings to have an informal chat (are we ever formal on C9?) and meet the people behind the next iteration of the most popular .NET programming language.

There are some new faces (and some old ones (not in terms of age, mind you Smiley). As expected, merging functional constructs into imperative C# are still top of mind for the C# design team. Here, you'll meet some new programming language gurus and some old time Niners (you'll recall the great Eric Lippert. He was in fact the very first developer we interviewed for C9 back in 2004 - even though his was not the first interview posted, it was the first one shot and the one where Lenn, Jeff, Scoble, Bryn and myself looked at each other and said "wow, we are on to something here!".).

C# 4.0 will contain many new features that will help developers be, yeah, you've heard it before, more productive. There's also some very interesting work going on with adding dynamic constructs to the language, which is of course very interesting given the static nature of the C# language.

In this video you will not get any specific details since the C# team wants to reveal exactly what they've done at PDC 2008. That said, you'll still get a very clear sense of what they've been up to and where they're taking the language.

It's always a pleasure to chat with Anders and team. I think you'll enjoy this one. On a personal note, I was coming down with a cold during this interview so please excuse the asking of the same question more than once (though in a different context). Oh, the joys of cold medicine. You know, the same stuff Lenn was on when he conceived the idea of Channel 9 several years ago.

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  • Vesuviusvesuvius Count Orlock
    I have been breathless with anticipation on this one.
  • figuerresfiguerres ???
    MUST WATCH THIS ONE...  OMG...

    Still trying to grasp all the stuff in the last few versions...

    I guess the next few things are for them to create the following "Global Methods"

    DoWhatIMeanNotWhatISay(Program P);

    SaveThisData(Class C, DataBase DB);

    MakeThisDataBaseIntoOOp(Database DB);

    oh and:

    WriteMyApp( Object FuzzyIdeas);

    just a few simple productivity helpers like that Smiley
  • Stephan van StekelenburgAthemeX Here since the beginning
    OMG, I can't wait until this downloaded... this must be good Big Smile
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    I hope it lives up to your expectations Smiley I will be interviewing the team again (well, me or somebody else on the C9 team) to really dig into the details. In fact, I want to get Anders for a Going Deep on C# 4.0. He'll no doubt agree to doing this.

    C
  • jason818_253.33jason818_25​3.33 Yippi skippy

    Fascinating interview. I found the most interesting part was when the conversation was turned to concurrency.

  • I'm really looking forward to PDC this year - and will definitely to be seated up front when the C# team presents the latest ideas and implementations.

    If there's one thing I'd really like to see in C# 4.0, then it would be covariant return types. I know it's going to take a new version of the CLR, but please take it into consideration (once more).
  • Stephan van StekelenburgAthemeX Here since the beginning
    I'm having some trouble downloading the WMV (High).. anybody else experiencing this? After a while the download just stops and leaves me with a corrupted file Perplexed

    Not sure if it's my connection or something else
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Could very well be your connection. It's a big file Smiley
  • I have the same problem downloading the large WMV version.
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    I'll try downloading from my machine over DSL in Seattle. If I find a problem, then I'll talk to our dev team and see if in fact we have a corrupted file on the server.

    C

    EDIT: I downloaded the file without any problems (DSL).
  • Alexei PavlovBlackTiger If you stumbled and fell down, it doesn't mean yet, that you're going in the wrong direction.
    Wow! Anders is still here! Will watch this video indeed.
    Where he was for so long time?
  • Allan LindqvistaL_ Kinect ftw

    <bad neo impression>woah.... </bad neo impression>

    man ive been waiting for ths :O


    --
    btw i ve tried for a few days to reply tto the app virtualization thread but i cant :/ nothing happes when i click add.. i can reply to this thread though so i got no idea whats wrong
    gonna contine watching the vid now Smiley has erik left the c# team btw? or was he just not available?

  • Sparkywil2300 Super #
    To either Borum.NET or Charles: I have recoded this vid to h.264 mkv and the file is now only 355mb. I do not have ftp (but could set one up in a few days - need to reinstall  win...) but if anyone wants the mkv version of this file I will be more than happy to upload it to you, even through IM if need be.

    Now, I am off to go watch this.
    Great work getting these vids up - thanks a lot.
    ~sparky
  • I have wrote a comment on another post "Eric Gunnerson - How do you design new features for C#?"; That's a long one!
    So if the team is going to consider wish lists; mine is here!
    Thanks!
  • Allan LindqvistaL_ Kinect ftw
    awsome interview, cant wait for that GD episode Smiley anders i like a rock star to me (yeah, ive said it before,  im a nerd Tongue Out)

    c# really balances the addition of new features so that they are meaningful and not redundant
    linq is the perfect example of this, it uses the good ol Ienumerable interface and foreach loops that have been around forever but its so incredibly powerful
    lambda expressions are really just delegates (unless they are expressions Smiley) and delegates have also been around for quite a while

    i guess what im saying is that c# allows yo to leverage what you already know in a way that no other language do. that whole thing about starting at -1000 point.. the c# team has really really done a good job of keeping that number close to 0.  Smiley
  • stevo_stevo_ Human after all
    Also having problems with the large wmv, after about 6-8 minutes the download stops as if everything is done...
  • Anders Rocks ! ! ! Smiley
  • Jonathan MerriweatherCyonix Me
    Great Video, I can't wait for the Going Deep!
  • My download of the large WMV bailed out too. Odd since I normally have no problems what so ever downloading the larger (>1GB) C9 videos...

  • Same thing here, the large WMV times out.
  • Sparkywil2300 Super #
    It's the anticipation that is killing me!
    Excellent stuff - I have say, I enjoy Anders, E Meijer and the PFX team interviews. I hope to see more of F# folks in the near future. I wish I can work with these any of these groups - they do such cool stuff.
  • Just can't wait for this one....."Downloading"....
    I hv been waiting for likes of this for a long time....

    Anders is just gr8 ....
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    We will look into the problem. Just out of curiosity could you tell us what location you're downloading from (what country/city you're in...)?

    Thanks,
    C
  • Stephan van StekelenburgAthemeX Here since the beginning

    I was trying to download from the Netherlands, from a town near Eindhoven. and will add that I normally have absolutely no problem dowloading (really) big files whatsoever. Thanks for looking into it Smiley

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Apparently, I've managed to upset some VB developers by my characterizing the language as "not for super skilled developers". In fact, what I was getting at in context is that VB was/is designed for the masses to make programming easier, abstracting away complexity, simplifying development, democratizing programming on the Windows platform.  I did not say that VB is for idiots or non-skilled programmers. Watch the interview carefully. Smiley

    Many great developers use VB. It's a very powerful language. For example, the great Brian Beckman uses VB. Erik Meijer uses VB (in fact he innovates the language to be extremely powerful, yet easy to use.... That was my point exactly, in context.)

    My apologies to all I've offended.
    C
  • Already a C# 4.0 and the world just got introduced to 3.0?
  • Already C# 4.0 and we "just" got introduced to 3.0?
  • LiquidBoyLiquidBoy Silverlight
    I have nothing but awe for these guys, such pure thinkers.

    One thing i want to say regarding a point they were discussing around how does a general purpose programmer (GPP) get up to speed with new features, in particular the parallelism problem. I would have to put my hand up and say that i am a GPP and that ever since C# 3 i have been struggling to keep up to date with alot of the new features . It's been a year since i started heavily using features like linq and lambda's, anon types, object/col initializers etc and im just getting the hang of them. The point im trying to make is that not everyone will make the transition to fully understanding these new features, what is required in todays world are teams of developers that have strong skills in some areas and a mediocre understanding in other areas eg. when recruiting for team members, whilst it's great to get people that have great understanding of all c# features  it's near impossible to find anyone that fits that skillset. So we go for people that compliment other peoples skills.

    With parallelism, when it finally makes it into C# i forsee people that specialize in parallel coding (just like in the days of threaded programing), if we need that skill in our team then we'll hire skilled people that understand it well, and these people will balance out the other people that don't know it at all (and probably don't need to know it). Not everyone will be able to take that leap into parallel programming and I honestly believe not everyone should need to make that jump.

    My days and remaining braincells are spent on Silverlight & WPF, but what cells i have free is dedicated to DLR Smiley

    Great talk guys, and looking forward to the next interview!
  • Why does the interviewer keeps repeating the words "outstanding" and "excellent"?  Smiley
  • Awesome. Cool.
  • Joshua RossJoshRoss Niner since 2004
    Isn't f# and spec# supposed to be a first class citizen in Visual Studio.Next?  I'm surprised to not hear anything about them in this video.  I can understand that as the different CLR languages grow conceptually further apart the amount of plumbing, within each language, will increase just to handle the requirements of calling code from one language to another, such as handling or acknowledging Spec# contracts when called from IronPython, in a reasonable manner.

    Since all of these languages more or less have to interoperate, how important is it to have all this plumbing in-place, with a plan to abstract it to a high-level, when a new feature is added to the runtime to enable a new language that provides a better mechanism to perform a task in some domain?

    When I think of what domains have not been addressed in the managed world, the first thing that comes to mind is low-latent problems, such as audio.  Next would be precision and optimization problems that are present in science and mathematics.  F# looks very promising in this field.  And, its promotion to a first class language must be very relieving to other .net language creators who might otherwise be pressured to stick some of those characteristics into a their language prematurely. Last but not least, how the heck do we leverage the GPU before the GPU leverages us? 
  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...
    Good show folks.  Great group.  Some things:

    1) Always bothered by syncing datatypes like DateTime.  You can't use volatile or interlocked.  So your forced into a full monitor or using a long to represent the datatime.  For simple things like a perf counter class where you need atomic rw but maybe not exclusive access, a lock is too much tax.

    2) I always thought another modifier may be good (i.e. "#").  So you could add sync to any datatype:
         private DateTime# start;
         private DateTime# end;

         And the system will figure out the best way to handle access (i.e. lock, volatile, interlocked, etc).  You also get declaritive knowledge for the compiler help.  A variation on this is adding variant sets with "#n", where n represents the variant set such as:

        private DateTime#1 start;
        private DateTime#1 end;
        private int#2 counterX;
        private int#2 counterY;

        So now we have two variant sets that have sync behavior for the respective variant set or "variant bucket".

    3) I am not saying the CCR is the right api for the language, but I think the ccr pattern is.  Using Port(s) and async Selector(s) seems generic enouph that it could fit nicely in the language and allow extention points.  Think we need both the TPL model and the async ccr pattern.  So a solution that cleanly allows both would be nice.

    4) Naturally, debugging support for locks and sync issues needs more tooling to allow us (and compiler) to find sync issues better.  I like the idea of some pattern that allows me to write sync code, but in such a way that the system can parallelize it safely.  Abstracting as many non-required details as possible.  Required details/options maybe could be exposed as attributes/metadata that gaurd sections of code.

    Will enjoy to see what comes next.  Keep having fun.  Thanks.
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Regarding the download troubles some of you are having:

    Our file hosting service provider has told us that they are unable to find a problem (they tested their servers in Europe and can't duplicate the error). They tell us that the problem could have been a transient one due to ISP overload or router issues. They say: "At this point it looks like an intermittent issue that may have passed, perhaps a congested ISP or router on the last mile."

    Have any of you tried running a tracerout from your PC to mschnlnine.wmod.llnwd.net? In order to figure this out they need more data. For example, how are you downloading the file (right-click, save as? Playing the video in your media viewer application? Etc...)

    C
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    That's just my way. It's in fact an involuntary response to coolness. Smiley
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    C# 4.0 is what the C# team is working on these days. It's not about to release.....
    C
  • stevo_stevo_ Human after all

    Yes, as before they even finished C# 3.0, they were planning 4.0... yadda yadda, this is purely talking about the future of C#.. although not much was given away..

    I liked what anders was talking about regarding how he thinks concurrency could be tackled (definately correct me if I'm wrong), which was not to think about code as being concurrently designed or otherwise.. but instead, designing the 'parts' that make up your operation.. and letting the compiler/runtime link all those parts together in the best way possible..

    Of course, we always need that overall control, so the challenge I guess is how to do all that.. c'mon guys hurry up!

    Also I think when were talking about will there ever be any changes to .net, and the question got routed from language to library.. but I think what you were maybe referring to, or at least what I thought you were trying to ask was.. is there any thoughts to changing .NET CIL, as in add to the capability that CIL can describe (such as something like contracts being defined as a pure CIL construct (library aside).

    Maybe its just me, but I'm interested in that question.. although I appreciate that ms wants to avoid changing CIL to avoid compatability problems..

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    "what I thought you were trying to ask was.. is there any thoughts to changing .NET CIL, as in add to the capability that CIL can describe (such as something like contracts being defined as a pure CIL construct (library aside)."

    Well, what I asked I in fact thought about before interpreting and conceptualizing ideas, constructing the word patterns to describe the idea and finally delivering it by mouth. Smiley

    The question is based on the notion that

    If your runtime and default libraries are capable of providing functionality that can address specific hardware configurations (especially the runtime engine, but so too the collection of classes that you program with...), then the languages used to manage the manageable parts of the runtime can be very thin. TPL and CCR demonstarte that libraries (with support in the base virtual machine when necessary(e.g., Generics, etc) can provide sufficient capability to program (express) parallelism. So, my question was aimed at exploring the necessity of adding the same or similar functionality to the syntax of the language.

    C
  • Sparkywil2300 Super #
    Charles, that is a good point about libraries vs. language constructs.  I assume that we are still a little ways from C#4.0 and in the mean time, the TPL library is being consumed and improved. Given that Joe Duffy and Anders seem to talk all the time, then it seems that the TPL library will provide a good test bed for parallelism, which, if successful, can be implemented in the next c# version. I mean the framework exists and not just for c# but LINQ as well. Anyway, just my 2.5 cents.
  • Charles, when you're interviewing them next time, it would be great if you could delve into the "intersection" between meta programming (which they said they were working on) and dynamic compilation of code (which they also talked about).
    It sounds like there's an exciting opportunity here to combine those two and get run-time specialization of code.

    E.g. if you have a regexp matcher that takes a regular expression and a string and returns true if it matches, you could specialize the first parameter of that function for a specific regular expression (which isn't known at compile time, only at runtime) and then run that specialized version on ten million strings. The benefit is that the regular expression would get hard coded into the specialized version so that the matching doesn't have to "interpret" it each time. There's a cost involved in doing thie specialization, but quite often you'll use it so often that the benefit outweighs that cost.

    Seems to me like compilation can be viewed as basically the act of "baking in" known facts about your code (e.g. the size of a variable) into machine code so you can execute it faster. Well I'd say that many applications will have "known facts" that may not be true for the entire duration of the program, but will at least be true for "long enough" that it's worth baking them in anyway. Another example is an image filter, where you take the filter kernel and compile it down into machine code and then run it over the image (because the kernel won't change for the duration of the filter operation). A third example is a game where you load a game level, that level won't change for several minutes at least so it would be cool if you could "bake it in" and do all sorts of optimizations under the assumption that the game level is "constant" for some duration of time (e.g. inline calls that are virtual, but since the data is constant you know exactly where you need to go, unroll loops, recursion, do standard constant folding etc.).

    Anyway, this is my pet idea for a "killer app" where you'll see all C++ advocates gladly switch to C# for the increased performance, and if you have both meta programming *and* runtime code generation/loading you're basically almost there.
  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...
    I think the tpl works pretty well as an library already (from an perspective).  As Anders said; would it make more sense to bake in a "ParallelForeach" keyword in the language - what are you adding?  Not sure.  Linq needed this kind of sugar in the language to make is cleaner/easier to call the apis.  Not sure tpl, as it exists today, would benefit the same way.  Some new pattern (that will become obvious when we see it) will probably benefit from lang sugar.  I think the big win will be when the pattern becomes "parallel correct" by *construction - which would be a combination of lang features, patterns, compiler, and libraries.  I think a pattern of being correct-by- construction (e.g. Erlang) has the most legs.
  • Are you taking requests?

    Here is my list: http://jrwren.wrenfam.com/blog/2008/05/15/c-vnext-feature-request/

    Left out of that list is my request for an extensible literal system. We already have the wonderful TypeConverter system in the BCL. The compiler could use that and I could have extensible literals in the language. Short of that, just list and dictionary literals would be great.

  • Guys, for over a year now, I've been telling folks at Microsoft that what we want is language constructs that help you write less buggy code.

    It should be obvious, but this is the thing plaguing software teams; we write buggy code and we spend a lot of time writing unit tests, physically testing, debugging, and doing formal code reviews -- all in an attempt to get rid of bugs.

    C# 4 should add some constructs that help us write software with fewer bugs in it.

    For me, this means integrating some of the excellent research done over the last several years by the Spec# guys. The design-by-contract stuff would help us rid our codebase of mistakes developers often make when working on large, complex, real-world software systems.
  • Great video, Charles!

    With regards to the dynamic typing-static typing dichotomy, it is not either-or.  It is not only-but also.  We want not only the affordances of dynamic typing but also the assurances of static typing.  Type inference sorta fakes us out into believing that it provides this, but it's still static typing, and there are limitations to that approach that cannot be worked around until changes to the type system are made.

    Java and C# have been around for a while, long enough to where people will grumble if you make too many changes to the language.  If it is impossible to make changes to the language without incurring "-1000" penalties, then maybe it's time for a new language (or perhaps an old one whose time hadn't quite yet come...) to step up and pave the way for programming language innovation.  Better ways of getting the job done is the goal.

  • I've been waiting for it too. Now I can't wait for the details to be announced on PDC Big Smile
  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...

    Sounds like your talking about F#.  Looks dynamic, but static types and a new language.

  • Well would there be a UCFirst and IsNumeric this time ? hahahaha Smiley just kidding, keep up the good work guys
  • Impatiently waiting for this version of C#.

  • Charles (I mean the Charles who wrote the post (as in the one who signed his name (you know Charles))),

    You forgot to close one of your '('s

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Yes. Indeed, sentence composition could stand to gain from a better compiler.

    Thanks for testing Smiley
    C
  • ff

  • Very cool discussion. I like that fact that a large focus for C# 4.0 is concurrency. I've been doing a lot of work on LINQ and concurrency (with the Brahma project http://brahma.ananthonline.net). I feel what I'm trying to do is exactly what a part of the discussion was about, which is: introducing a model that allows developers to write code that runs in parallel, without them having to put in a whole bunch of thought. The limitations of query expressions fit very well into a streaming-computation model, which is the feature I've tried to exploit. It is also possible to interleave code that runs on another processor with code that runs on the CPU (an architecture suitable for asymmetric core computing).

    Even if included as language features, I feel a LINQ-like provider based model (which allows users to write their own providers) would allow the most flexibility since multi-core processor development is going to be in flux around the time C# 4.0 might be released. Allowing people to decide the model of concurrency to be used, while supporting basic constructs (I feel COmega has some very nifty ideas there). It is also entirely possible that the "scalar" processors we run some part of the code on, may not be x86 (Tesla?).

    In all, this is the perfect direction for C# to be heading in. But please, pretty please(?) give us, the developers ways to extend and control this beast's innards.
  • Could you please tell me where i can get the transcript?
    Thanks.
  • stevo_stevo_ Human after all
    I was wondering today if theres any plans to improve the expression support for the compiler.. currently the compiler only accepts lambdas that are trees where a branch is a call to the next.. which makes it impossible to "bake" statement blocks..

    It seems to me that the ability to have statement blocks as expressions could be very powerful, for example; you could have an expression as the handler for an enumerator, this could be useful for tools like linq to sql.. because you could do analysis against the expression, and determine which properties are being used.. and thus you could optimize the query to return just the fields that should be called..

    I know that example isn't a guarentee, there would be rules about unsafe code still, and you would still need control over this optimization happening or not.. but thats just an example of things that could happen..
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Many of you have expressed interest in Spec#. I'd recommend that you play around with the most recent version (requires VS 2008). 

    http://research.microsoft.com/research/downloads/Details/8826adb9-8398-40d6-a22d-951923fe2647/Details.aspx

    Enjoy!
    C
  • Ayman SalehAyman Ayman
    I am interested in Anders' use of the word service, when he talks about using "the compiler as a service".  This brings up a number of queries, here they are:

    1. Does this mean that Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) ideas and principles are moving from the business level down to the compiler and, possibly even, operating system level?
    2. Are we slowly moving towards a future where all system components will be redesigned from the ground up as services to be accessible on demand from anywhere?
    3. Could this team, and may be also the Windows and other teams at Microsoft, benefit from having world renowned SOA experts and Service Design Architects, for example the Microsoft Legend Juval Lowy?

    Finally, congratulations to Microsoft and the C# Team past and present on a world-beating product and apologies in advance and please excuse me if I have been presumptuous in any of my questions.

  • I have a question why the below mentioned code snippet is a forever loop in C# 2.0... I haven't tested it in > 2.0 frameworks but I bet the behavior won't be different..

    for (byte index = byte.MinValue; index <= byte.MaxValue;  index++)
    {
        // do something forever untill the stack is exahausted...
    }

    I know the reason but I would like to know the what was exact design decision related to it the way post increment ++ operator is implemented for the BCL type BYTE...

    Email: tricky.vikas@gmail.com / gupvikas@hotmail.com     

  • Daniel PortellaPortella Portella
    Yarg, every time i see Anders in channel 9 or any where in the web is when he and the team are cooking some meal for us. They are the cooks the jammie olivers of programming LOL.
  • Guys, I'm current C# user and I use a lot of threading code especially when it comes to delegating on multiple cores. I would like to use my democratic voice to influence some of your decisions, hopefully! Wink I had many projects in my past year where I had to write code that interfaces with hardware such as application that was using C# driver and wrapper around Canon’s digital camera SDKs. I managed to write code in pure C# (of course a lot of it was unsafe and with pointers, but still in C#). Let me tell you something… If it wasn’t for the currently available mechanism in C# when it comes to threading, I mean, the way I create, control, and synchronize the threads and so on I would not be able to do what I’ve done in the past year, especially driver for 60+ models of different cameras in pure C#… The control and power that I have over my threads was phenomenal I just hope you won’t take this away.

    Also, I’m closely watching COSMOS (http://www.gocosmos.org/index.en.aspx) project and because of the some “high-level” features it is not yet possible to emit directly into machine code, so netwide assembler is used. I hope that you guys would think about bringing those kinds of features into C# also the ability to talk to hardware directly without any 3rd party APIs and I know it is possible now at some level because I’ve done it with digital cameras through USB but one day I’d like to see a jet flying with C# OS instead of Ada written code…. Please add more cool low level features, I love C# more than C/C++ and I would like to see more stuff like that happening. If they can write a control panel (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/131/384637216_4c85a7bbd8.jpg?v=0) in DotGNU for a laser in Europe why can’t we have more for system programming in current official C# distributions?

    http://flickr.com/photos/t3rmin4t0r/384637216/

    J/K >- Hi! My name is "Blank" and I’m a C# addict, I WANT MORE LOW LEVEL FEATURES in C#!

  • Congratulations C9! this video very, very interesting ...... still more with a team's expert.

    I'm waiting for C# 4.0...

    see you later....

  • using System;

  • good stuff.........

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