Microsoft is ahead on developer workflow

In reading my 1,331 RSS items (as reported by Google Reader) today I found one by Scott Barnes where he noted that Ryan Stewart, who covers the rich Internet application space better than most anyone, noted that Microsoft was ahead in terms of developer workflow.

Absolutely.

You only need to watch the Sparkle video I did in September 2005 to see why (that was the code name for the product that became Expression Blend).

Yesterday, listening to the Adobe team, I was in a state of deja vu. Yeah, part of it was I was really tired, but the other part is that they were trying to articulate the workflow changes that are coming as clearly as  Manuel Clement and John Gossman did in that video.

Adobe came close, but didn’t match it.

The problem is it doesn’t matter. If you care about cross-platform (and if you are a Web developer, you do) you’ll put up with a workflow that isn’t quite as nice.

And if you’re a developer for a Windows only shop, you’ll be praising Microsoft for making your life easier.

Personally, I’m glad I’m not at Microsoft anymore trying to get Web developers to try out Expression. Why? Just come and visit 10 startups with me, and you’ll see why.

Macintoshes are showing up everywhere. WPF/E and Expression and the fun workflow that Manuel and John show off won’t matter one bit if you develop Web sites on a Mac.

85 thoughts on “Microsoft is ahead on developer workflow

  1. I don't know about you but I always prefer Apple instead of Microsoft and I think that they made a really big mistake when releasing Vista cause it turned out not to be as good as they thought. I opened a funny t shirts and I'm only using Apple systems there.

  2. I don't know about you but I always prefer Apple instead of Microsoft and I think that they made a really big mistake when releasing Vista cause it turned out not to be as good as they thought. I opened a funny t shirts and I'm only using Apple systems there.

  3. #30: Thanks, Stephane… looks like I’ll have to find that book. ;-) Might that “third party” you mention have been Karl Jakob and DimensionX, who came out of the Java applet world? Did Alex St. John bring any code into that prior Microsoft “we’ll be glitzy cross-browser” attempt?

    #37: Spot-on. Robert hit on this too. I’m sort of amazed at the current MS des/dev workflow story… “Everything will be much easier for you developers, once you convince your pesky designers to completely revamp their current habits and skills and use only our stuff.”

    jd/adobe

  4. #30: Thanks, Stephane… looks like I’ll have to find that book. ;-) Might that “third party” you mention have been Karl Jakob and DimensionX, who came out of the Java applet world? Did Alex St. John bring any code into that prior Microsoft “we’ll be glitzy cross-browser” attempt?

    #37: Spot-on. Robert hit on this too. I’m sort of amazed at the current MS des/dev workflow story… “Everything will be much easier for you developers, once you convince your pesky designers to completely revamp their current habits and skills and use only our stuff.”

    jd/adobe

  5. Don’t you mean on “Microsoft Developer Workflow”? I read the Expression site and it states that it’s only for Windows. Most creative types I know do not use Windows so how is it going to help them?

    From the site: “Expression Blend is the professional design tool to create engaging web-connected experiences for Windows.”

  6. Don’t you mean on “Microsoft Developer Workflow”? I read the Expression site and it states that it’s only for Windows. Most creative types I know do not use Windows so how is it going to help them?

    From the site: “Expression Blend is the professional design tool to create engaging web-connected experiences for Windows.”

  7. The development world is huge and no one tool developer will ever hold majority the way a company does as an OS or media store. Developers are too fickle, every new generation wants to try something different and we *always* think we can improve on what used to be. So perhaps Rails or Apollo or Flex will become the next hot thing but something will just as quickly come up fast behind it.

    What I find funny in this is being suprised that startups are going with LAMP. I’ve been a developer for 15 years and in that whole time LAMP has always been the #1 choice of small and startup companies. I do corporate work by day on .NET and consulting at night on LAMP setups and almost every single startup/small business is going the LAMP route.

    Of course for some of the sites I end up switching them over to .NET, simply because I can bang out a small, password-protected, localized, editable site in nothing flat yet others are perfect canidates for something like Ruby on Rails. Point being that of all the languages I’ve used, all the IDE’s I’ve slogged through, every framework I’ve learned, none of them are perfect enough to ever steal and hold a large share of the development community for long.

    The larger point being, the development world isn’t the consumer world, and no one tech will ever kick another’s butt so hard that it really fails and even things that should have died a long time ago, like Java (which I also like to call the Worst Common Denominator), find ways to still lumber along.

  8. The development world is huge and no one tool developer will ever hold majority the way a company does as an OS or media store. Developers are too fickle, every new generation wants to try something different and we *always* think we can improve on what used to be. So perhaps Rails or Apollo or Flex will become the next hot thing but something will just as quickly come up fast behind it.

    What I find funny in this is being suprised that startups are going with LAMP. I’ve been a developer for 15 years and in that whole time LAMP has always been the #1 choice of small and startup companies. I do corporate work by day on .NET and consulting at night on LAMP setups and almost every single startup/small business is going the LAMP route.

    Of course for some of the sites I end up switching them over to .NET, simply because I can bang out a small, password-protected, localized, editable site in nothing flat yet others are perfect canidates for something like Ruby on Rails. Point being that of all the languages I’ve used, all the IDE’s I’ve slogged through, every framework I’ve learned, none of them are perfect enough to ever steal and hold a large share of the development community for long.

    The larger point being, the development world isn’t the consumer world, and no one tech will ever kick another’s butt so hard that it really fails and even things that should have died a long time ago, like Java (which I also like to call the Worst Common Denominator), find ways to still lumber along.

  9. John: I can come up with plenty of .NET examples too (Plentyoffish.com is another, for instance).

    But, the overwhelming number of Web 2 startups are going with LAMP.

    Karen: funny, in another post today I’m getting attacked for drinking the Microsoft Koolaid. Can’t win, I guess.

    I have no clue? Interesting. I’ve filmed several videos about LINQ. Not sure what it has to do with this…

  10. John: I can come up with plenty of .NET examples too (Plentyoffish.com is another, for instance).

    But, the overwhelming number of Web 2 startups are going with LAMP.

    Karen: funny, in another post today I’m getting attacked for drinking the Microsoft Koolaid. Can’t win, I guess.

    I have no clue? Interesting. I’ve filmed several videos about LINQ. Not sure what it has to do with this…

  11. I love how it absolutely pains Robert to praise Microsoft in any way, shape, or form. Even when he links to something positive (which must really stick in his craw), he follows up by trashing them.

    Well, I don’t really *love* it. In fact, I find it disgusting that someone would work for a company, become famous by working for said company, then leave the company and try to extend his fame by constantly trashing the company with which he became famous in the first place.

    Robert, you have no clue about Microsoft tech that is in Orcas, like LINQ, a tech that no one else has an answer for.

  12. I love how it absolutely pains Robert to praise Microsoft in any way, shape, or form. Even when he links to something positive (which must really stick in his craw), he follows up by trashing them.

    Well, I don’t really *love* it. In fact, I find it disgusting that someone would work for a company, become famous by working for said company, then leave the company and try to extend his fame by constantly trashing the company with which he became famous in the first place.

    Robert, you have no clue about Microsoft tech that is in Orcas, like LINQ, a tech that no one else has an answer for.

  13. Agreed. But, you’ve to wait: WPF and Co. were released on the Windows timeframe, while the real “Wow!” tools are goanna be released in the VS timeframe. And, I really can’t believe my eyes when I see the new features in VS Orcas. LINQ will make anyone who uses it WOW, and I guess people may actually switch to Vista just for the sake of LINQ.

    In other news, there’s a statbot on Matt Cutts: http://blog.yuvisense.net/2007/03/02/statbot-analysing-matt-cutts/

    Interesting stuff? He gets almost double the amount of comments you do! ;)

  14. Agreed. But, you’ve to wait: WPF and Co. were released on the Windows timeframe, while the real “Wow!” tools are goanna be released in the VS timeframe. And, I really can’t believe my eyes when I see the new features in VS Orcas. LINQ will make anyone who uses it WOW, and I guess people may actually switch to Vista just for the sake of LINQ.

    In other news, there’s a statbot on Matt Cutts: http://blog.yuvisense.net/2007/03/02/statbot-analysing-matt-cutts/

    Interesting stuff? He gets almost double the amount of comments you do! ;)

  15. Jd,

    In fact Chrome was canned before it shipped. (the whole story is in the book Renegades Of The Empire, which unfortunately is out of print). What was really shipped (and is still part of Internet Explorer) was the family of Direct xxx run-times right within Internet Explorer : Direct Transform, Direct Animation and Direct Show. Only the latter worked on top of DirectX. I was told by an old DirectX developer from MS that Direct Transform and Direct Animation were actually bought from a third-party.

    With this stuff, you can play videos mapped onto floating 3D objects with just a few lines of markup.

  16. Jd,

    In fact Chrome was canned before it shipped. (the whole story is in the book Renegades Of The Empire, which unfortunately is out of print). What was really shipped (and is still part of Internet Explorer) was the family of Direct xxx run-times right within Internet Explorer : Direct Transform, Direct Animation and Direct Show. Only the latter worked on top of DirectX. I was told by an old DirectX developer from MS that Direct Transform and Direct Animation were actually bought from a third-party.

    With this stuff, you can play videos mapped onto floating 3D objects with just a few lines of markup.

  17. WPF/E will always be a subset of WPF. That’s my theory, at least. Would love to be proven wrong, but I’ve learned to listen to shipping code rather than PowerPoint (or in this case blog comment) promises.

    HE LEARNED!! WOOHOO!

    First, I can’t quite connect the idea that people are fleeing PC’s to do development on Mac’s when Visual Studio (PC only) is by far the most commonly used development tool.

    Open source dev tools for free say “Um, no, no it’s not”.

    You have verifiable numbers on that claim?

    I may get high fives for making my ACME application X-Platform but if 2% of my consumer base have macs, what problem am I really solving here and am I being relevant to them.

    One could say that perhaps you need to look at your marketing. Making real, grown-up money is simpler in the Mac space, because Microsoft is not trying to dominate every single segment there, nor is Apple. Hell, in the IT tools sector, there’s a PILE of money on the table. Lithium NMS is going to make a metric assload of it.

    Jeff: yes, it does, but it’s only a subset of what .NET 3.0 is. From what developers tell me it’s quite frustrating because real .NET apps use all sorts of Windows-specific stuff that doesn’t translate to WPF/E.

    As well, Microsoft is trying like hell to make it so you have to use Windows to create WPF/E code. This is the same mistake they are making with .NET.

    If you want the tech to spread, then WHO CARES what they develop on? .NET is not inherently platform – bound, neither is WPF/E, but Microsoft is tryingto make the dev tools platform bound, because they want that income stream from the tools. Stupid.

  18. WPF/E will always be a subset of WPF. That’s my theory, at least. Would love to be proven wrong, but I’ve learned to listen to shipping code rather than PowerPoint (or in this case blog comment) promises.

    HE LEARNED!! WOOHOO!

    First, I can’t quite connect the idea that people are fleeing PC’s to do development on Mac’s when Visual Studio (PC only) is by far the most commonly used development tool.

    Open source dev tools for free say “Um, no, no it’s not”.

    You have verifiable numbers on that claim?

    I may get high fives for making my ACME application X-Platform but if 2% of my consumer base have macs, what problem am I really solving here and am I being relevant to them.

    One could say that perhaps you need to look at your marketing. Making real, grown-up money is simpler in the Mac space, because Microsoft is not trying to dominate every single segment there, nor is Apple. Hell, in the IT tools sector, there’s a PILE of money on the table. Lithium NMS is going to make a metric assload of it.

    Jeff: yes, it does, but it’s only a subset of what .NET 3.0 is. From what developers tell me it’s quite frustrating because real .NET apps use all sorts of Windows-specific stuff that doesn’t translate to WPF/E.

    As well, Microsoft is trying like hell to make it so you have to use Windows to create WPF/E code. This is the same mistake they are making with .NET.

    If you want the tech to spread, then WHO CARES what they develop on? .NET is not inherently platform – bound, neither is WPF/E, but Microsoft is tryingto make the dev tools platform bound, because they want that income stream from the tools. Stupid.

  19. No.

    What I mean is, if some SDK is a subset of another SDK, then all you have to do as a developer is extract piece of the big SDK, create a build off that, and you are done.

    That does not define WPF/E as a subset of WPF because WPF/E is under development, real development. WPF has shipped, therefore somebody could start Reflector (Lutz Roeder’s tool), grab pieces, and put it in a .NET assembly read to ship. That could be called a subset of WPF.

    Instead, WPF/E is not even written with .NET. It does not use .NET, therefore something has to give.

    Spoiler : what WPF/E is try to reproduce some of the important vector graphics concepts, such as a canvas, a button, etc. Unfortunately, this creates a lot of problems for developers in the end since if you run XAML/E code, it won’t use DirectX neither any of the actual WPF implementation. There are a ton of behavioral differences even for concepts that should have been the same (just take a look at WPF/E’s forum over at MSDN).

    I don’t know what Microsoft’s motives are, but this is already an old story. Many years back, Internet Explorer 4 ship with a Direct Animation run-time that did exactly what WPF/E tries to do, just with some COM library, not XAML/E.

    And, as you said, XAML and XAML/E editing tools only run on Windows. That’s a huge opportunity for ISVs to create such tools on other platforms. This of course assumes ISVs have a financial incentive to do so in the first place, whereas apparently equivalent tools on the Mac absolutely rock (just that they don’t process XAML).

  20. No.

    What I mean is, if some SDK is a subset of another SDK, then all you have to do as a developer is extract piece of the big SDK, create a build off that, and you are done.

    That does not define WPF/E as a subset of WPF because WPF/E is under development, real development. WPF has shipped, therefore somebody could start Reflector (Lutz Roeder’s tool), grab pieces, and put it in a .NET assembly read to ship. That could be called a subset of WPF.

    Instead, WPF/E is not even written with .NET. It does not use .NET, therefore something has to give.

    Spoiler : what WPF/E is try to reproduce some of the important vector graphics concepts, such as a canvas, a button, etc. Unfortunately, this creates a lot of problems for developers in the end since if you run XAML/E code, it won’t use DirectX neither any of the actual WPF implementation. There are a ton of behavioral differences even for concepts that should have been the same (just take a look at WPF/E’s forum over at MSDN).

    I don’t know what Microsoft’s motives are, but this is already an old story. Many years back, Internet Explorer 4 ship with a Direct Animation run-time that did exactly what WPF/E tries to do, just with some COM library, not XAML/E.

    And, as you said, XAML and XAML/E editing tools only run on Windows. That’s a huge opportunity for ISVs to create such tools on other platforms. This of course assumes ISVs have a financial incentive to do so in the first place, whereas apparently equivalent tools on the Mac absolutely rock (just that they don’t process XAML).

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