Looking back and ahead at .NET

.NET developer Tony Patton highlights the major platform and product releases of 2006 and looks ahead to 2007. Share your development team's migration plans for the coming year in the article discussion.

This year, many new tools and products were released that greatly simplify developers' lives. Before we dive into a new year with new products and projects, I want to take a moment to reflect on this year by highlighting the major platform and product releases. Then, I will look ahead to 2007.

Multiple versions

Dealing with multiple versions and continuous software updates is a way of life for most developers, and Microsoft continues to apply the pressure as new versions of its products and platforms continue to appear.

While I am still familiarizing myself with version 2.0, the .NET Framework 3.0 was released in late 2006. .NET 3.0 is technically the .NET 2.0 runtime plus some new .NET 2.0 compatible assemblies formerly known as WinFX (which is the name of the new managed API for Windows Vista). The release of version 3.0 followed so closely on the heels of version 2.0 that I haven't even had clients ask me about it.

I still work with applications utilizing version .NET Framework 1.1 with some slowly moving to 2.0. The many new 2.0 features like pre-compilation, partial classes, master pages, Web Parts, personalization, and so forth are a productivity boost when building applications. However, most clients don't want to spend time and money migrating an application to 2.0 that is currently working fine; it is an easier sell to use 2.0 when you're building new applications.

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In addition to becoming familiar with the .NET platform, I have spent time learning Visual Studio 2005. Even though this release has been out for a while, its adoption and usage coincides with use of the .NET Framework 2.0. In addition to the framework versions, Microsoft has also introduced new product versions that are closely tied to the .NET Framework. Certification is a great way to become familiar with the latest release. If you're interested, the 2.0 tests are now available from Microsoft with the necessary books only recently released.

Product updates

Microsoft is a public company that needs to make money, so we can expect more product releases to be updated next year. Examples of recent updates include SharePoint Server 2007 and the 2007 Office System, which can both be used to build more powerful .NET-based solutions.

You can use a Visual Studio 2005 add-on to build applications targeting the 2007 Office System. The Web Parts feature first introduced in SharePoint is now a standard part of the ASP.NET 2.0 platform. Another much-anticipated product release in 2006 was Internet Explorer 7, which adds many new features targeting both users and developers. You can leverage these products to deliver solutions with the expectation of more updates and new versions down the road.

Windows Vista

Microsoft saved its biggest product release for the end of the year by making Windows Vista available to corporate customers at the end of November. It was finalized not long after the .NET Framework 3.0 was released, which is the version of .NET you should use when developing applications targeting the Windows Vista operating system.

By default, Windows Vista includes the .NET Framework 3.0. In addition, version 3.0 is available as a plug-in to Visual Studio 2005, allowing developers to write applications that use Vista's new user interface, security features, and communications system. Windows Vista covers the desktop environment with the Windows Server Longhorn providing an update to Windows Server 2003.

What to expect in 2007

While 2006 has offered plenty of news about product releases and new technologies, 2007 will be no different. AJAX is one area where development continues with a release of the ASP.NET AJAX (code named Atlas) tools expected in 2007. It is designed to speed up development of Web applications that run in a browser or on a server.

In addition, Windows Vista is slated to be released to the general public on January 30, 2007, but it is still unknown how quickly businesses and consumers will adopt the operating system.

At this time, I haven't seen any .NET Framework 4.0 versions, so hopefully developers will be given time to further digest both 2.0 and 3.0. Likewise, the adoption of the latest frameworks will continue as customers continue to build new applications and move to the new platforms.

Forever changing

The world of application development is fast moving and forever changing as product updates and new versions seem to appear on a constant basis. Microsoft is a prime example as it continues to update its operating systems and products as well as its .NET platform.

Which version of the .NET Framework are you currently using? Do you see yourself and your organization moving to a new version of .NET and/or Windows Vista in the new year? Share your thoughts with the TechRepublic community by posting in the article discussion.

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Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.

About Tony Patton

Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a productio...

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