I'm very happy with a lot of the improvements to Access 2010. The move to easily create web applications from within Access is very welcome except for one major disappointment: the huge disconnect between cheap Access and very the very expensive Sharepoint
Server Enterprise required for publishing your application online.
I find it quite disingenuous to push the web-capabilities of Access when they are only exploitable by a very small fraction of its user base.
These web-publishing capabilities are in fact nothing more than a plug-in to Sharepoint Enterprise.
Including this in the standard product allows MS Marketing to tell everyone "we've listened to you and made Access a great platform for developing online applications", but this is a real stretch: Access remains a great development platform for
desktop applications, and that's all it is for most of us who don't work for companies who can afford spending about US$8000 to purchase the licenses required for Sharepoint Server, the Enterprise CALs, SQL Server licenses, etc for just, says, 20 users...
Now, if Access Services had been part of Sharepoint Foundation, that would have allowed us lowly ISVs to push a free version of Sharepoint into a lot of companies and have a foot in their door.
That would have been great.
I personally don't see how the current state of affairs is going to really benefit a great number of people, or even Microsoft.
I tend to agree with Scott Belware's definition of productivity in the context of software development.
Getting the fewest number of keystrokes is a very narrow view of the problem. Of course it's hugely important to have expressive languages and good tools to quickly output code but it's only a small part of the overall picture of software development: the
main aim of it all is not to reduced to allowing me to output more but to ensure that the entire ecosystem allows me to output a solution to a client's problem in the shortest possible time.
I'd like Microsoft focus a bit more on how all these great technologies they've been churning out in the past couple of years are actually working together to help build applications faster.
There is a lot of focus on introductory presentation on what they can do but very little in the way of showing us best practices and recipes around how they should be used efficiently.
The truth is that, while WPF, Silverlight, MVC, WCF, and al potentially hold great promise, they are not making us more productive for a few simple reasons:
They are fairly new, so they do not always cater for all their promised used cases. You cannot be sure that the productivity that was promised using a particular technology will not be negated by specific issues that have not yet been ironed-out. You'll
end-up spending a huge amount of time going around these bumps.
Lack of Proficiency.
We don't know them. Any new language, development paradigm and technology (even tool) will take hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hours to master well enough that you don't have to spend 50% of your time Googgling (or Bingging) for help.
By the time you're somewhat proficient enough to produce code quickly and avoid pitfalls, some other new shiny technology will have taken over. Corba is dead, vive Remoting! Remoting is dead, vive WCF!
Negligence of older technology.
As developers we like shiny new toys. I'd rather spend my time experimenting with C#4.0 than type another line of VBA. Yet, most existing software is based on these older technologies, and most developers spend their time supporting and developing new solutions
Windows Forms are not dead. Maybe we wish they were, they're messy, unsexy and built upon layers of old technologies, yet they're still there, making up probably more than 90% of the desktop apps out there.
Strange thing is that, as noted in the video, they are conspicuously absent from the big events.
There isn't enough information about combining technologies together to build real-world apps.
Examples, code samples, presentations usually focus on showing the first 10% of solving a problem with a particular technology.This is useful but when we reach the point of having to plug these technologies together, there isn't much help.
Keeping up with it all
We're only human and there is only so much information we can consume every day while still performing our primary job.
I try hard to keep up with technologies because they sometime give you the edge, or render something that used to be complicated easy.
Unfortunately, this comes at a price: I spend a good deal of my day reading on stuff I probably won't use; there's too much of it, too many new technologies, too many ways to do things, how do you make the right choice?
It's somewhat paradoxical: you need to spend time trying to learn about new things that may make you more productive and in the process you are not doing any work.
Helping me choose
I would really like to see some kind of 'Microsoft Academy'. By this I don't mean a 'Police Academy' type of affair but rather a training video channel where, over the course of a number of videos, we would be shown how to use the technologies to produce
Sessions during technical event are too short to go beyond the very basics. Even Scott's presentation on building NerdDinner had lots of ready-baked cheats that hide most of the real-world process of getting through a technology choice.
My productivity is greatly affected by the right or wrong technologies I chose.
Anyway, this short video has provoked a lot of long responses.
That must be the Hanselman Effect!
I like Ping but I'm not sure that getting into the Apple vs MS space is really going to get anywhere or bring anything constructive to the table.
I'd prefer Channel 9 to stay away from these topics that should be better left to the marketing machine.
Being MS employees, you can't really be expected to be completely candid and unbiased on the issue and you can't expect your public to find you candid and unbiased.
There is nothing wrong with rooting for your own company but if I want to see Apple propaganda and be entertained by the level of discourse surrounding them I can just go to youtube to watch them and read the 'my machine is better than your, suck it' comments.
Channel 9 is a source of technical information and I'd like to see it stay focused on that.
I'd like, and expect, MS to take the higher moral ground on this and just ignore the pettiness.
I like that Channel 9 is offering videos for both the Zune and the iPod. It sound like a small thing but it's a clear statement of what Channel 9 stands for: being pragmatic and communicating with developers is more important than the brand of PC or video player
Good luck finding anything comparable at Apple.
Oh by the way, after resisting purchasing an iPod for years, I relented the other day because the Zune 120Gb I really wanted isn't available where I live.
Not just that but there is not s single Zune you can buy here or anywhere near here. Can't order it online either.
MS is taking too long exporting the Zune outside of the US. In the meantime Apple is left with the whole market for itself.
And that isn't Apple's fault.
I've been wondering what the new Fog Creek Office looked like after hearing Joel talk about it on the Stack Overflow podcasts.
Pretty nice. I did not expect it to be so big.
These desks are awesome!
Now I want one so bad ;-(