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August 28 2012

ASP.NET web API rocks

Glenn Block (@gblock) is an O’Reilly author and senior program manager on the Windows Azure Team at Microsoft.

We sat down recently to talk about the newly released ASP.NET Web API Framework, which he helped develop, and why it will become essential to building RESTful applications.

Key points from the full video (below) interview include:

  • ASP.NET Web API enables a rich set of clients to consume info [Discussed at the 1:47 mark]
  • Find out if one comes out on top – MVC vs. Web API [Discussed at the 2:41 mark]
  • Different clients negotiate content differently – Web API handles this with ease [Discussed at the 5:50 mark]
  • Self hosting is a big deal but beyond that Web API introduces flexibility – you no longer need to use IIS [Discussed at the 9:04 mark]
  • An HTTP Programming Model for Microsoft [Discussed at the 11:04 mark]
  • The newest of the new – Hypermedia, OData, and Web API Contrib [Discussed at the 18:08 mark]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.


April 17 2012

Microsoft opens up

Open Sign by dlofink, on FlickrWhile Microsoft's previous stance on open source systems is well known, it turns out there's been a serious shift as Microsoft looks to bring more non-.NET programmers into the fold.

On April 12, Jean Paoli, president of a new subsidiary of Microsoft called Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., wrote about the new initiative. In his words, the subsidiary was created "to advance the company's investment in openness — including interoperability, open standards and open source." This is a public step toward working with open source communities and integrating technologies into Microsoft's closed initiatives, which may not be quite so closed in the future. With that in mind, below I take a look at what's new with Microsoft and open source.

While these projects provide proof that the pendulum is swinging in the open source direction, the impact for Microsoft can and will be much more resounding. New markets, programmers, and communities are at play here if this new tact goes well.

Attracting the polyglot programmers

This shift in ideology will likely help Microsoft on a number of fronts, including finding new programmers and communities. For example, Microsoft may lure developers to Windows 8 — rumored to be launching in October — by making it as easy as possible to get up and running. HTML5/JavaScript as well as C++ can be used to create Windows 8 Metro applications, and Microsoft hasn't forgotten its own .NET developers, who will use C#. The common theme you will see with the Windows 8 release and others is that Microsoft is trying to become less isolated from the rest of the programming community, many of whom are now polyglot programmers.

Hadoop's halo effect

Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, is slowly gaining momentum as enterprises make the shift to cloud services. The key word here is "slowly." On the other hand, Hadoop, an open source Apache project that's become a central part of the big data movement, has a huge and active community that's improving the code minute by minute. Supporting Hadoop on Azure lets Microsoft incorporate the popularity and visibility of an open source project into a Microsoft initiative that needs more exposure.

A marketing signal

With a Microsoft Openness website that speaks to the relationship it has with open source technologies, and an accompanying Twitter account (@OpenatMicrosoft) with more than 6,500 followers, the Microsoft marketing team also seems to think open source exposure is important. (Side note: Gianugo Rabellino, Microsoft senior director of open source communities, and one of the people tweeting from the @OpenatMicrosoft account, will be presenting at the OSCON conference this summer.)

As Microsoft continues to see viable open source projects gain momentum, you can be sure that it will work on including ways for those languages, libraries, and frameworks to be incorporated into its current and future platforms. But the more meaningful change is that Microsoft is seeing that opening its own technologies to programmers will only make its products better, more accessible, and central to the future of programming.

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Photo: Open Sign by dlofink, on Flickr


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