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What the hell is dot Net anyway?

By cat5 in News
Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 12:57:49 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

For the last few months Microsoft has been leaking out its new vision for the world of computing, namely New Generation Windows Services, or NGWS for short. The rags were speculating on this meat, like what Al Gore or George W. Bush was going to do next.

At the recent Windows Professional Developer Conference in Orlando, Microsoft revealed all, namely, NGWS, but rechristened it DOT NET, or .Net for short. The Politburo of Fort Redmond said it was "exciting and revolutionary" and
  • Paul Maritz said it transcended client-server, namely it was Client/Server/Services
  • Bill Gates said it was really just like every application to be used, simply had its own web site
  • Steve Ballmer said that .Net integrated everything with the wonderful lingua franca XML.
Now nobody can figure this out yet. IT managers can't plan because the only facts that they were given were:
  • Java (J++) is being dropped from the development tools because it is a language of the World, and not Microsoft
  • A new language called C# (C Sharp) is being introduced that will work for Microsoft .Net and therefore, by extension talk to Microsoft products, but not the World
  • The XML everywhere will talk to the World, since .Net needs to talk to the World
  • The new browser will be integrated with the .Net products and that means Microsoft, but not the World
  • .Net will be the new World, and the world will adopt the tools of the World, to be the WORLD. Or something like that
Meanwhile, back at Fort Redmond, confusion reigns because of a cultural crisis. For decades, around the campfire, the Microsoft tribal chiefs passed down the folklore of how Chief Billness, the great warrior, single-handedly defeated the entire IBM tribe. The Redmond children listened in rapture how the Great Medicine Mainframe was rendered impotent. The tribe captured the great hunting ground of the desktop, and lived in happiness for long generations without having to war with the Tribes of the Internet. The Great War with the Thin Client tribe lead by the evil Big Trash Ellison was soundly defeated, and thrilled the hearts of the post-papoose siblings, and the Tribes of the Internet were again thwarted. The current war with the DOJ Nation, trying to take away the Raw Capitalism Treaty provisions of the Desktop Areas, is going well, or at least is being ignored.

But the new chiefs have announced at a pow-wow that they are going out to hunt in the areas of the Tribes of the Internet, and reestablish the Great Medicine Mainframe and carve new Osage wood Thin Client bows and arrows to C sharpness.

What of our Great Traditions, ask the children around the campfire. Cannot we stay in the happy hunting grounds of the Desktop sacred areas? We find much happiness there, and we do not have to talk XML and other protocols of the Internet Tribes.

No, say the chieftains, our culture and tribe will die and stagnate at $60 in the great stock market in the sky. We must conquer the Internet Tribes, and the beyond-the-horizon non-desktop hunting areas. Our powerful medicine of dot Net will give us the strength.

What is dot Net? ask the children...


Voxel dot net
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o Raw Infrastructure


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What the hell is dot Net anyway? | 31 comments (28 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Heh... (2.67 / 3) (#1)
by DigDug on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 06:17:29 PM EST

I just got a letter from Microsoft inviting me to a "one-day event that will present [me] with straight answers on how to plan, design, develop, and implement Web-based enterprise commerce solutions built on the Microsoft .NET platform and Microsoft .NET Enterprise Servers (formerly referred to as Windows DNA 2000): Microsoft Developer Days 2000, October 19, 2000."

Here are some more quotes, the bolding is mine. Ladies and gentlemen, start your buzzword meters.

  • "This intensive one-day event will take you step by step through the design and development of a real-world enterprise commerce solution built on the Microsoft .NET platform."
  • "A videotaped keynote address from a Microsoft executive will start the day. Then a general session will set the stage for the scenario that we will explore in greater detail in the breakout tracks. The closing session will pull everything together and provide time for questions."
  • "If you're looking for straight answers, without the hype, [...] I strongly encourage you to attend this event."
I almost want to go, as it will probably be amusing. So does anyone want pay the fee for me? It's "just" $139 USD! "This is an event [I] really shouldn't miss."

Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

Re: Heh... (1.00 / 1) (#8)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:43:32 AM EST

I assume they'll show you their existing products in one big advert.
The whole .NET thing is just their way of wowing us with essentially the same product. And I'm not buying into it.
They cannot offer subscription software as of yet, because most people don't have a fast enough network connection (it'll take at least 5 more years before they'll be able to). So that option remains unselected.
And about all the SOAP, XML, and other whiter-than-white products. I don't think they'll offer anything over what activeX and it's predecessors have offered. Unsecure, platform-locked, bloated web-objects.
The problem with MS is as the article said that they have no more features to offer, and their entire system is built upon the addition of increasingly more features. So now they make up features, which they'll call innovations, and group them all under the .NET directive.
If only they'd focus on making usefull and stable apps instead of getting a higher "feature" count than the competition...

[ Parent ]
It depends on what the definiton of... (2.00 / 1) (#18)
by marlowe on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 02:13:15 PM EST

"straight answers" is. I strongly suspect that Microsoft is using some sort of non-Euclidian geometry for its notion of straightness.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
"Pitch in" (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by jabber on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 10:22:17 AM EST

I got one of those too..

First thing I noticed was that it was addressed to me at my old job - one I left nearly four years ago. Subsequently, I noticed it was from Micros~1.
Without the slightest bit of excitement or nervousness, I openned the envelope:

Scan, scan, scan "...one day event", scan, scan, scan, ".NET", scan, scan, "$139". STOP! CRUMPLE! STOMP! DISPOSE!

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Dot net is... (4.83 / 6) (#5)
by baka_boy on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 10:42:43 PM EST

...two things, really. Both are important to Microsoft, and both are, frighteningly within their grasp.

The first, and perhaps most crucial, is .NET's role as a massive, Microsoft-specific "innovation," which they can pull out and show off at their appeals of the DOJ antitrust ruling. You can't get much more "cutting-edge" than distributed, XML-based, full-blown application and desktop OS funstionality. It has all the right buzzwords, and is such vapor at this point that no one can tell them that it's crap.

Secondly, .NET really probably will turn into some product or products within the next year to eighteen months. The open source rallying cry of "many helpers, many eyes" applies in most ways to Microsoft, too, since they have more programmers to throw at most problems than God (or even most OSS software).

I'm not implying that it will be a good product, or that it will be anything like the grand picture they've painted so far, but what they're talking about is basically just an upgrade of their scripting tools to support a few more languages, and XML (possibly SOAP) protocols for distributed COM automation.

So, what do we do about it? If we can see through the marketspeak running rampant about this whole thing, it looks far less rediculous, and it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to pull the rug out from under them. How, you may ask? By beating them to the punch. We need SOAP, or a similar, open, easy to work with messaging protocol for remote object transfer and control. We need libraries for that protocol in Java, Perl, Python, C/C++, etc., and we need it soon.

Let's stop spending hours and hours tweaking Enlightenment themes and ripping MP3's, and see if we can actually pre-empt Microsoft on something. Any takers?

Re: Dot net is... (3.66 / 3) (#6)
by cat5 on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 11:00:35 PM EST

I do not know enough about SOAP to comment on it critically.

I am curious, however, about a frequently expressed concern about SOAP, namely the security issue. If everything is going to be squeezed through port 80, what does the community think about the diminished utility of firewalling, shutting down of unnecessary services, if everything is going to squeeze through port 80 without scrutiny

[ Parent ]

Re: Dot net is... (2.00 / 1) (#30)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 03:30:24 PM EST

It's scarier squeezed into port 443 Then you can't even sniffit.

[ Parent ]
SOAP Support (3.50 / 2) (#9)
by Dacta on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 08:57:42 AM EST

There is already SOAP support in Java (by IBM), in Perl, and I'd be surprised it weren't already there (or at least almost there) in Python.

[ Parent ]

Re: SOAP Support (2.50 / 2) (#10)
by moshez on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 09:11:03 AM EST

Soap for Python is available from PythonWare: PythonWare

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
Re: Dot net is... (5.00 / 3) (#14)
by Ricdude on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 12:24:28 PM EST

We need SOAP, or a similar, open, easy to work with messaging protocol for remote object transfer and control. We need libraries for that protocol in Java, Perl, Python, C/C++, etc., and we need it soon.

It's called CORBA. It's here now. Java supports it natively, as of 1.3, C (ORBit)/C++ (TAO,MICO,et. al) support it very well. Perl, IIRC, has ORBit bindings, so it's there. Tcl has bindings available via MICO, so it shouldn't be too hard to add them to Python, either, or scheme/guile/lisp for that matter. It was designed from the ground up to be cross-platform/cross-language. I program in it daily (primarily c++, and java), and can't stress enough just how much easier it makes client/server implementations of multi-node applications. Code the server in C++, and the client in java. Today. Read a good book on it (Henning&Vinovski) and start programming with it. The implementations exists. Here. Today. Now. Solid. No vapour.

[ Parent ]

FNORB (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by spiralx on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 05:18:02 AM EST

Try FNORB a full ORB written in and for Python if you want to use CORBA. It's not perfect, but it's better than some of the commercial offerings I've seen (such as the horrible ORBIX by Iona).

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Re: Dot net is... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 04:58:44 PM EST

I believe SOAP is something of an open standard. One need not reinvent the wheel since adding SOAP capability to Perl/Python/language-of-the-month should be easy. As someone mentioned, it has been done for Java already.

regarding the post about CORBA ... i wouldn't compare SOAP to CORBA although they may overlap slightly. perhaps it makes more sense to compare CORBA with COM+ and EJB.

There are good and bad things about Microsoft as a whole, and good and bad things about the technology they produce. IMHO, COM+ is a very cool technology indeed. There are comparisons with CORBA on the net, for those interested. a good place to start is http://www.microsoft.com/com/.

[ Parent ]

What Joel Spolsky says (4.25 / 4) (#7)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 01:45:52 AM EST

Joel Spolsky's comment on the whole .NET thing is: MS is going on a vision thing, and this is their vague abstraction hand-waving thing that tries to make you see stuff where there is none, really. Joel writes good stuff; you should check out the rest of his stuff at the page.

Re: What Joel Spolsky says (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by Dacta on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 09:22:17 AM EST

Also, read his comments on MS management and think about it for a while.

[ Parent ]

Re: What Joel Spolsky says (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 01:51:01 PM EST

Having read both...maybe the top guys don't know what's going on, because they're keeping their hands off while the guys in the trenches come up with all the cool ideas.

[ Parent ]
Okay, I've thouhgt about it. (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by marlowe on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 02:31:01 PM EST

Joel is describing two unhealthy extremes. He goes easier on the one that reigned at Microsoft because, well, it went easier on him. The fact remains, both cultures are dysfunctional. The people who make the decisions should be the ones who have a clue. If no one person has enough understanding of all aspects of the problem to make a decision by himself, then you have a cordial meeting with a big whiteboard. Invite everybody who understands part of the problem, or has a stake in the outcome, and nobody else. Everybody gets to speak, and anyone who wants to can write on the whiteboard. I'm not too big on formal approval processes, but an informal verbal consensus should be required. "Speak now, or forever hold your peace."
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
I fear this kind of reaction (4.50 / 8) (#11)
by Dacta on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 09:15:16 AM EST

So many people in the Linux/Unix/Open Source community still laugh at Microsoft.

Just because Linux use is booming, the Justice Department is killing MS in the courtroom and Open Source is the flavour of the month doesn't neccessarily mean MS have lost it.

So many people saw the boom in WWW and Netscape usage as the end of MS. That was dumb.

Now, these same people are seeing people worried about making their apps cross platform compatible, and being able to access their programs via non-MS products like PDAs and phones. Again, they are saying "MS has lost it".

Again, it's not true. MS has smart people, and can afford to buy lots more. Bill Gates is one of the more savvy people among the top computer company CEOs.

Look at .NET. What does it let developers do? Develop apps quickly and simply that are easily accessed from the Internet. We know they will never run on a non-MS operating system, but MS has SOAP, which "allows parts of the program to be called from other platforms"

If you a manager of infomation technology, and MS comes in and says "Look, we are really sorry. We now understand interopability is vital. Look at these tools. Look how much we've invested. We're betting the company on this", what are you going to say?

I'm not saying .NET is going to be great. I'm not stupid enough to say anything in it will work before the 3rd version. But I am saying that MS has turned their company around before. Don't count them out yet.

There is some really good stuff in .NET. Don't fall for the idea that everything MS does is bad - it's way too easy to think like that, and it is really dangerous.

Read http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory&sid=2000/7/16/05626/2244 if you are interested in the technology of .NET

Technology of .NET? (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by marlowe on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 02:19:22 PM EST

Which part of the technology? The borrowed bits and pieces, or the vaporware glue that they're saying will hold it all together someday? (I for one, am not sniffing that glue.)

Technology is not the same thing as hype.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Re: I fear this kind of reaction (3.66 / 3) (#23)
by Emacs on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 07:49:18 PM EST

Quite frankly I'm not sure how you can get excited about this.

First off, It's not just the Linux community who are "laughing at MS" with the .NET idea. I think they are cutting a much broader path with this one.The main problem as I see it is that MS is doing things backwards. They are not "scratching an itch" but rather they are trying to "create an itch." It's one thing to have a great idea pop into your head and run with it, it's quite another to sit down and try to come up with a great idea. I'm not saying that this isn't a good idea, I really don't think so but I'm not a real visionary so hey... I could be wrong.

What smacks me in the face here is that MS missed the boat big time with the Internet revolution and they are determined not to miss the next revoltion. Is this distributed software subscription services ASP thingy the next revolution? Well... again... I don't think so. In fact isn't this just an extension of the Sun "The computer is the network" mantra? Isn't this just the whole "thin client" revoltion (or at least the web version of it) all over again?

The MS hype just has a way of turning people off. It sure does me anyways. I get turned on when I see something neat and revolutionary, not when I hear about it. There is a big difference there. So lets say that even if this .NET thing is great I'm gonna bet that MS will just screw it up like they do with most everything. They just seem to apply overkill to everything. Also, you can kill the whole "we're betting the company on this" crap. How many times can you "bet the company" over the course of a year.. after all it was just a few months ago that they were saying that about Win2000. So... to summarize..yeah... it's pretty hard to take any of MS's new innovations seriously.

[ Parent ]
.Net and ASP+ (2.33 / 3) (#13)
by Rezand on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 12:03:26 PM EST

Those at the PDC have had a lot of light shed on this. For instance, to get a good idea of some of the changes this allows in server-side code (such as raw VB instead of VBScript, pagelets, etc) you can see www.ibuyspy.com, their ASP+ demo site.

this article sucks (1.81 / 11) (#15)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 01:14:41 PM EST

It looks like the author was trying to be funny. I can take only so much MS-Bashing, and this article goes WAY, WAY overboard. I only regret that I didn't get to vote -1 on it.

Whatchoo got against MS bashing? (1.33 / 3) (#17)
by marlowe on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 02:10:43 PM EST

It's not like they don't have it coming.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Humor sucks? (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 07:02:40 PM EST

Hey, *he put all the info in the top, then did something humorous below. Granted, it would have been nice if it had it's own side-bar, or ability to be hidden, so that totally anal-types wouldn't have to read it. It was fun though.

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
MS Behavior (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 04:55:42 PM EST

.NET strikes me as nothing more than a proprietized version of a whole set of technologies that are already out there and available in less proprietary implementations. For instance, SOAP, as I understand it, is essentially souped-up XML-RPC and perhaps picks up some CORBA /COM functionality. As far as XML is concerned, I encourage everyone to check out Brett McLaughlin's "XML and Java" book, as well as the various Apache/Java/XML initiatives (Jakarta-Tomcat, Xalan, Xerces, Cocoon).

The fact is that only MS has enough market power to impose a proprietary standard. Additionally, MS does an excellent job of packaging newer technologies so that they are accessible to most programmers (and even non-programmers) and not merely to the top tenth or so. It is stretching it a little, however, to call what they are doing innovation. Popularization is more like it.

I imagine it is going to be a lot easier, a year or so from now, for a programmer to sell a manager on a .NET site framework than on Cocoon, Enhydra, Zope, etc. today. On the other hand, if MSApps (including IE) is separate from MSOS, maybe it will be a tougher sell.

Re: MS Behavior (none / 0) (#24)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 23, 2000 at 09:08:50 PM EST

I thought .net was an ASP model fully integrated into the Windows OS. Sort of an XP Toolkit that downloaded pieces of itself as you went along.

[ Parent ]
.NET = Cairo 2000 (5.00 / 2) (#26)
by Cat Mara on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 09:08:03 AM EST

Anybody here remember Cairo? In the early-to-mid 90's, it was Microsoft's killer technology. What Cairo actually was was always left a bit vague, but it was going to be rilly rilly cool and be object-orientated-- which in buzzword terms was to the early 90's what the Internet is to now-- and stuff. And, lo, there was much rejoicing from the MS faithful.

In the end, some of the UI designs for Cairo got folded into Windows 95 and the more ambitious components shrivelled and died. And I bet this'll happen with .NET-- there will be a lot of chest-beating from Redmond about how it's going to revolutionise the world and a lot of sycophantic articles in the computer press will be written about it. A few months will pass, then it will dwindle as the vested interests in Microsoft weigh in against it. Eventually, it will make a half-hearted appearance in Office 2005 as a bunch of wizards or something. Such is the life-cycle of earth-shattering technologies from Microsoft.

Cat Mara
Love me, I'm a liberal!

Cat Mara
Love me, I'm a liberal!

It's Basic + something else (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 12:30:00 PM EST

Just like everything else MS. First it was Basic then Visual Basic then Active <something> then ActiveX now it will be dotnetX. But as always, what you can count on is 2-3 years late, 20% of the function you expected, 100% more function that was ever publically officially claimed, a requirement to use the next unreleased version of an MSOS <also 2,3,5 years late> and uhhh....Basic. Hell maybe they'll repackage it as MSdotnetJavaX, which will in fact be, anybody?? Basic - yes !

COM extensions (4.00 / 3) (#29)
by aphrael on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 04:03:04 PM EST

I've been looking into this pretty heavily (it's essentially part of my job to keep track of things like this so the company i'm working for isn't blindsided), and it's been frustrating --- trying to read through layers of marketing speak to see what is actually underneath is never much fun at all. From what I can determine, there are a couple of different prongs. One is the idea that C#, VB, and VC++ (if you choose to do it this way) will compile to some sort of byte code (the 'common language runtime') which other implementations will know how to use in such a fashion that a C# object, say, could derive from a VC++ object; there would thus be binary and type compatability across the languages. You can also put type information directly into the DLL/EXE/etc, which would also allow type compatability; this is probably based on ITypeInfo in some fashion (although the marketing babble talks about never needing to use type libraries again). The .NET runtime appears to be an extension to COM which dispenses various objects to applications which use it; it also improves COM (allowing caching of vtable offsets, for example). My guess is the technical stuff will generate yawns all around when it is finally available.

What the hell is dot Net anyway? | 31 comments (28 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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