Monday, February 09, 2004
Just got back from tonight's .NETDA meeting. To be honest, I'm not exaclty a .NET developer, but hey, it's free pizza, and I figure I might actually learn something every once in a while. In addition to a demo of VB.NET Whidbey, we got a talk from Dave Winer and Robert Scoble about RSS feeds and whatnot. Since the point was made that RSS is a good way to ensure that the three of you out there reading this site will know about it when I post on my typical once-in-a-blue-moon basis. Thus I have figured out how to add an XML feed to the Blog.
Also, scroll down to Robert's previous post (same link as above), where he discusses the aforementined VB.NET Whidbey demo:
I haven't really paid attention to Visual Basic for the past 24 months. I'll be honest. I wrote off Visual Basic. I thought it was a "has been" product. You know, one of those Microsoft products like Outlook Express that lots of people use but that haven't really seen any real innovations for a while.
Granted, I've only really been working with VB since the initial .NET release, but for years, it's had a reputation as something of a "toy language". Granted, you could do quick-and-dirty stuff in it pretty well, but for any serious development you pretty much had to do C++. When .NET came around, it really did a lot to make VB a much more viable language for "serious" programming, adding a lot of functionality. As Robert's post indicates, the perception is still there (But these days, it's C# you're supposed to use for any serious programming) but VB really has come a long way.
I do have to wonder what effect Whidbey will have on these perceptions though. As the demo showed, many tasks that can require lots of coding in the current .NET (no matter which language you use) have been reduced almost down to simple point-and-click. Not too long ago, I spent hours trying to figure out how to make an editable datagrid in an ASP.NET page, a task that probably took close to a hundred lines of code (mostly in the form of parameterized queries.) It was about a week after I finished this project that I attended the ASP.NET Roadshow, where I saw my first demo of ASP.NET Whidbey. My jaw nearly dropped when I saw that this task that had proved the source of so much frustration had been reduced nearly down to a simple drag-and-drop. On one hand, I think that this simplification is certainly a good thing for programmers (note that this functionality is not limited to VB, but should work in all the .NET languages), but I have to wonder if some people are going to see this, and start to think of not just VB, but .NET in general as being a toy language again...