> Hong Kong Java User Group, 16 June 2001

Venue: INETS, 2 Floor Chuang's Enterprise Building, 382 Lockhart Road, Wanchai
Topic: An Introduction to C# and .NET for Java Developers
Speaker: Michael Leung, Group Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Hong Kong

Michael Leung has been working hard to promote .NET--he told the audience at the Hong Kong Java User Group's June 2001 meeting that he had given 50 presentations on the subject in the preceding 6 months. Microsoft has certainly been in the vanguard of the web services movement, popularising the idea of service-oriented components that communicate over the Internet using open standards like SOAP, WDSL and UDDI, and that are accessible from a wide range of smart devices. In fact, with .NET Microsoft is betting big-time on the widespread adoption of these standards. Despite some shortcomings--performance issues, compatibility
issues, and relatively primitive semantics compared with, say, CORBA--this looks like a fairly safe bet with big players like IBM, HP and Sun expressing support.

So with all these open standards, what's special about .NET? According to Michael, the answer lies in something Microsoft has traditionally done well: rapid application development tools that hide the underlying complexity of the platform and flatten the learning curve for developers. We saw some impressive demos of a beta version of Visual Studio.Net, the flagship development tool for .NET; for example, a class written in one language (C#) inheriting from a class written in another (Visual Basic). (In an obvious jab at Java, Microsoft is touting the "language-independence"of .NET, although some might question the wisdom of cross-language development efforts.) In another example, we were shown a web-based application being developed using the same event-driven paradigm that tools like Visual Basic and Delphi brought to Windows programming a decade of so back. A third example demonstrated how to turn a standard method into a web service using a single keyword.

It's easy to imagine this appealing to overstretched IT departments that might struggle to find developers experienced with J2EE or CORBA. Will we see .NET ported to platforms other than Windows? The answer seems to be, "Don't hold your breath." The bottom line: expect Visual Studio.Net to be a killer web services development tool, for those content to develop only for the Windows platform.