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Samuel Druker - What should developers do to plan ahead for WinFS?

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Samuel Druker, development lead on the WinFS team, talks about how programmers can prepare for the file system changes coming in Longhorn in their apps today.

WinFS is the file storage system in the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn.

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  • ZeoZeo Channel 9 :)
    He mentions that the more developers know about WINFS, will mean it will make more sense to write apps that utilize the tools of WINFS. I can only hope that Beta 1 of Longhorn really fleshs out 2 areas WINFS and Indigo.

    Yes Aero and Avalon would be cool and no doubt the new Orchestration engine would be nice, but I believe as a developer that Beta1's story should be WINFS WINFS WINFS and Indigo. 

    So right now it's still no making sense on how to utilize WINFS in development, going forward MS needs to really ramp up the WINFS information.

    I have to wonder tho, from what I've read WINFS won't fully be operational till 2009 so I don't know what kind of investment developers should make at this point. I mean Longhorn will be a version 1 product which means WinFS will be version 1, so should we wait until Blackcomb(version 2) to really get jazzed and develop with WINFS? 
  • samdruksamdruk samdruk

    We do need to get more of our development environment into the hands of app folks. I know our PM, marketing and evangelism teams are working really hard on a plan to get better interim bits released.

    I've said it elsewhere: if I personally were starting an ISV today, I'd be building for WinFS, Avalon and Indigo.

  • LazyCoderLazyCoder quit looking at me!
    Sam,
    Have you found any white papers or studies or even innuendo comparing WinFS to

    Oracle Files?

    or Web Fountain?

    Web fountain looks like it's still in the planning stage., but OFS has been around for quite some time.

  • LazyCoderLazyCoder quit looking at me!
    Bump

    Maybe I should have titled my reply. "Microsoft steals idea from competetors AGAIN. 'Reinventing wheel our top priority' says top exec. 'It's mo better than dere's cuz we made it.' says top dev." Wink
  • LazyCoder,

    Maybe you should read a little more about WinFS before you start writing these kinds of posts.  The only similarities between Web Fountain and WinFS is that they both have something to do with databases.  Web Fountain is not for managing files, its for managing collections of data stored in DBs.

    Oracle Files and WinFS share a few more similarities, but if I'm not mistaken, Oracle Files is oriented towards storing your data on a central server with a set of interfaces to retrieve it.  At least at the moment, WinFS is more concerned with managing your local files and providing mechanisms to query them as well as relate them to other files and/or application content.  I don't think they both offer the same set of features in terms of designing custom schemas, etc.

    In any case, DB file systems have been in OSes for years.  I think the point MS is trying to make with WinFS is that it is NOW becoming feasible to incorporate such a feature in your regular desktop PC and make it user-friendly, etc.

    Bill Gates has been dreaming about implementing something like WinFS into Windows for years. Of course, you would argue that considering the amount of support you have given your arguments and the number of times you have posted in these forums.
  • LazyCoderLazyCoder quit looking at me!
    My original post was written in the comments to a post that Robert Scoble made about popular Longhorn myths. Then, Sam Druker responded to some of the comments.

    If you really want answers on more specific questions go the the channel9 forums and ask (easier for me if they are all consolidated). I'm not interested in responding to trolls or debating marketing hype. If you have questions about what WinFS is, can do, how application developers or users should adopt the storage platform or other technical questions, I'm game. Here's the video forums link:

    So I  came here and asked the same question. Which went unanswered in both places. So I made a "bump" post to get it back into view of everyone reading here and figured the best way to get someone to respond here would be to make it into a negative post. It worked! Thanks for responding to negativity. Smiley

    (btw I joined before you and I've posted 23 more times than you WTF does that have to do with my arguments?)

    Web Fountain deals more with HOW we can search the data and how we aggregate the searches using natural language rather than dealing with how the data is stored. But they are developing it to deal with text data, both structured and unstructured. What does that have to do with WinFS? Imagine being able to type a letter to your family about a recent vacation and have an application that parses through your letter and inserts the appropriate vacation pictures in the correct spots. e.g. You talk about how Uncle Bob fell off his chair and the system searches your vacation images for "Uncle Bob fell off his chair" and finds the image with the metadata  "Uncle Bob falls chair" attached to it.

    OFS does have more similarities to WinFS, but it is enterprise oriented. There are TONS of document management systems out there for every platform. If you think WinFS will remain a desktop technology, I'd think you're mistaken. I believe the post-WinFS versions of SQL server and Exchange will be based on WinFS. Meaning  a WinFS search will not only search your files, but also databases and your email. It has always been feasable to include a DB file system in desktop systems. The BeOS system had one years ago. The fact that Microsoft is coming out with one in six years doesn't mean that it's just NOW possible, it just means that Microsoft is making it a priority for their operating system.

    There are tons of desktop oriented file searching applications. What I'm interested in is how WinFS compares to OFS and Web Fountain. What the differences and similiarities are.  Why should I care. If I'm picking an Enterprise database file system (in six or more years) why should I chose a WinFS based system over OFS?
  • samdruksamdruk samdruk

    I've been poking around for public statements from Microsoft on natural language interfaces to searches in LH, but I can't find any references I can point to yet. More on that as I find it. Rest assured it didn't slip our minds.

    WinFS is a development platform for integrated storage. It is my fervent hope and desire that Exchange will be one of the first Microsoft server applications that deeply adopts WinFS. As you point out, it will be a natural fit.

    So, I don't quite understand your last paragraph. As you yourself just pointed out, WinFS is not a desktop file searching app. It itself is an integrated storage platform, a pillar of the new WinFX API set and provides applications a rich set of services including shared data, replication, agent-based rules, relational query, full-text search (to be sure), component-base frameworks via behavior plug-ins, really first class view support, etc. etc. The Longhorn shell has a component of being a really good search (and query) experience, but even there it's built on a much deeper integration between the user's data and the presentation stuff on the computer.

    If you can get that stuff from BeOS or OFS or Web Fountain and it works for you, use it! Sadly, I can't put Longhorn on your desktop today. If you can get great applications that deeply adopt those platforms (I personally want Outlook, Sharepoint, Photoshop, Quicken and WMP) and you get the kind of data sharing we're encouraging with WinFS, then you'll see what I'm driving toward.

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