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by Mark Trescowthick - AVDF Editor
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Visual Studio 6

Well, we've finally had a chance to go head to head with Visual Studio 6. And, overall, it's been a particularly pleasant experience, as our first looks at both VJ++ and VB in this issue indicate. On Visual Interdev, about the best I can report is that I'm withholding judgement, if only barely. Still, I'm by no means convinced that Interdev will be necessary twelve months from now, as more an more of our web work is coming from VB server-side DLLs with ASP being just the glue that holds it all together.

One disappointing (at least for me) aspect of the VS6 release is that all the Help is now in MSDN Viewer format. That is good on one level - better browsing is certainly a plus - but not so good on another. Windows Help may not be the best tool, but it loads fast and is certainly a better option for context-sensitive stuff, in my opinion. It's also pretty inconsistent to set one standard and then go galloping off in another direction for development tools.

One thing I will say for the full VS6 package is that it ain't small. 5 CDs in total, with two devoted solely to Help and Books Online. I think the latter could have been better organised though :- the install lists the relevant bits for each component, and then a 300MB plus component at the end which is basically labelled as "everything else"! Now, do I need to install that or not? It would be OK if it was 30 or 50MB, but 300 is stretching the friendship a tad I fear.

We'll be delving deeper into VS6 as we start to roll it out, so expect lots more over the next few issues.

This Issue

It's getting increasingly difficult to maintain meaningful categories of article as the development world seems to become more overlapped, and more Net-centric, by the day. Is, for example, Jim Karabatsos' ISAPI filter in Delphi an article on Internet Development, Delphi or what? I've chosen to categorise it as "Other Tools" - which is where Delphi will appear from now on - but that's an arbitrary decision at best. Another example : Jim's first look at VJ++ is actually part of his review of TechEd 98! So don't assume that any given section won't contain information of use to you just because of its title. If you do, you'll probably be missing something.

It's amazing sometimes what you can't find on the Web. I was asked by a group of students who are doing an industrial experience project with GUI to point them in the direction of a small shopping cart for the app they're doing. I (perhaps foolishly!) said I'd find something on the Web for them and send them the URL. No go, which truly surprised me - and resulted in the article in this issue.

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I don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit sick of seeing this message on web sites. It's really quite bizarre (right up there with "Keyboard Error - Press F1 to continue") and, since I've moved to IE 4 I see it all the time. It would appear to be caused by MS' US-centric view of what constitutes an unreasonably long wait on a redirect, and, being browser-generated, there's not much site developers can do about it. Except look unprofessional to their clients and visitors, that is. I do wish that sometimes US developers would think more upon these things.

NT 5

Delays seem the order of the day with NT5, especially in the light of Novell's recent shipment of NetWare 5. And, predictably, many of the pundits are holding MS out to dry on this one. In one way I understand that - it seems that at least part of the reason for the slippage is the addition of new features here there and everywhere - a 700% increase in code over 3.51 was quoted in one mag I saw!

In another way though, I wonder what said pundits would prefer… MS to bow to pressure and release early, and therefore buggy? If they started dropping announced features now, they'd be hung out to dry as well - and probably by the DoJ as well as the pundits.

DoJ 1, MS 1, VJ where?

The anti-trust suit winds on… with some startling revelations being brought forth. For instance, did you know that Bill Gates once sent a email which was rude about Novell? Wow! Shock!

In fact, I have a deal of sympathy for the DoJ now that they're concentrating more on alleged bad behaviour and less on telling developers what to develop. But I admit that it's hard to take seriously an organisation that still uses WordPerfect 5.1!

And then there's the VJ6 action, which seems to be plodding, as I write this, to a conclusion. I really hope that Sun don't succeed in getting what looks to me to be an upcoming potential competitor for VB and Delphi withdrawn. You'll note that I'm not too interested in its ability to create "100% Pure Java" applets… though my understanding is that it can, what I see it as is just another new language. No religion, just another new language.

I have no desire for "write once, run anywhere" right now, but a native windows tool based on Java might just be very cool.

Winding Up

I'd just like to take a moment of your bandwidth to thank Lisa Hooper, who moved on to greener fields recently, for her contribution - both to AVDF and GUI - over the past couple of years. She'll be missed…

See you in the ether.

Written by: Mark Trescowthick
August '98

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