Mix:ed feelings

Let’s take a look at how, in LINQ, you might implement a simple SQL query like:

Mix:ed feelings

SELECT CompanyName, ItemID, ItemName from Customers where CompanyName = ‘Acme’

In LINQ this would translate to:

var q = from c in db.Customers

where c.CompanyName == “Acme”

select new { c.CompanyName, c.ItemID, c.ItemName };

Now I’m sorry, but I really fail to see how this helps me; and after asking the people on the LINQ team, I’ve yet to get a proper answer. Why spend time learning yet another, lower-performing query language that has to be interpreted into the native one anyway? Why not just give us a way to use SQL to query all the data sources? Why we need yet another syntax is beyond me, but I’m assured it’s a really cool way to query XML data so I guess we might end up using it. Or maybe it will end up on that scrapheap of obscure programming tools that help us fill out our CVs, safe in the knowledge we’ll never be called on to code in them again. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I have a feeling it’s yet another example of very clever people doing very clever things that don’t supply what the real-world developer needs. If you have a view on this please email me at [email protected]

Coders and designers unite?

A demonstration that was notably absent from this event was anything that illustrates Microsoft’s new vision of programmers and designers working together on an application. Microsoft has made lots of noise about tools to enable such collaborations, but that being so, why didn’t it show them working? We were subjected to half an hour of coding just to change the colour of a textbox and to hard-code the look of a mouseover event, which is all stuff that should be left to the design tools anyway. The vision as it’s been explained to me is that the web-application functionality can be programmed up and tested, while the designers are working their magic on the web forms to turn the pages into something cool looking and user-friendly.

Please Microsoft, start showing us how this vision of yours works: we want to use code to connect to data sources and manipulate the data, but the display and user interface should be generated by the design tools, not hard-coded in VisualBasic, C#, or JavaScript. If there are no convincing demonstrations of this soon, I guess we must assume that it’s all too difficult to get working and that Microsoft prefers to spend its time giving us another new query language or office document format.

On the plus side, huge improvements have been made to Visual Studio 2008, one of the biggest being to its rendering engine. This was previously so poor as to be almost useless, and its replacement by the excellent rendering engine from the Expression Web Suite is very welcome indeed: now Design View bears a close resemblance to how the page will actually look in a browser.

Live and twitching

For some time now, Microsoft has been investing millions of dollars in the infrastructure needed to run the “Live” range of services, so it was no surprise to find that another key area of this conference was the promotion and the possible uses of this platform. At Mix:UK, these presentations were given by the very enthusiastic Angus Logan and his team, who certainly seemed to believe in what they’re doing. However, many of us weren’t so convinced that Microsoft is achieving anything startlingly new, since so many of the offerings look very similar to what Google, Yahoo and many others are doing. But with Microsoft being the largest software company in the world, it would be foolish simply to dismiss its offerings, and every so often it comes up with something that surprises us all. Currently in the “Live” environment we have Live Spaces, Live Contacts, Live Earth, Live ID, Live Expo and, the one I’ll look at first, Windows Live Silverlight Streaming (http://silverlight.live.com).

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