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   .NET and .FUD (was Re: Joel on XML)

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  • From: Michael Champion <Mike.Champion@softwareag-usa.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 02:31:29 -0400

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joshua Allen" <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
To: <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2000 5:27 PM
Subject: RE: Joel on XML
> I'm somewhat puzzled about what Joey was saying, though.
> Does he mean to say that the whitepaper does a poor job
> of explaining .NET to him (reasonable)?  Or is he saying that
> he has concluded that .NET has no substance, simply from
> reading a single whitepaper?

Well, one would expect the whitepaper to be the single most coherent
statement of what .NET really is.  Instead, it's full of stuff like:

  "For the Web developer, the tools to build, test and
  deploy engaging Web sites are hopelessly inadequate. "

[hopelessly?? c'mon! If Web development tools are "hopelessly inadequate"
how come the Web is so phenomenally successful? Or is .NET going to fix the
.com meltdown too?]

  "Everyone believes the Web will evolve, but for that evolution
  to be truly empowering for developers, businesses and consumers,
  a radical new vision is needed. Microsoft's goal is to provide
  that vision and the technology to make it a reality."

[sounds like something Dogbert would say to extract more consulting money
from the Pointy Haired Boss!]

> From where I stand, .NET
> seems very clear, coherent, uncompromisingly pragmatic,
> and backed up by lots of product and code

If the folks in Redmond truly have a clear, coherent, pragmatic picture of
what .NET is and this is backed up by real code, they'd better do a better
job of getting the word out.  Most of the punditry and analysis that I've
read seems to say more or less what Joel Spolsky says with merciful

   ".NET is just a thin cloud of FUD. There's no there there.
   Try as you might to grasp onto something, the entire white
   paper does not say anything. The harder you grasp, the more
   it slips right through your fingers."

Help me out here ... from where *I* stand, .NET appears to be:

- A recognition that Visual Basic has run out of gas and needs to be
replaced with a more modern, object-oriented, net-friendly language,
supported  by the Visual Studio UI.

- An attempt to kill Java (the *obvious* choice for the VB replacement) with
a language that is *roughly* the same subset of C++ and an interpreted /JIT
compiled "Intermediate Language" that is conceptually pretty similar to the
idea behind the JVM. [You'll forgive me for seeing nothing beyond the "not
invented here syndrome" and the Sun suit against MS to justify this?  And
the implication (of the list of 3rd party languages supported by .NET) that
Java is less important in the real world than Eiffel and Haskell is simply

- Promoting the Windows API, exposed via COM objects, as the equivalent of
the Java standard library in this post-Java world.

- Leveraging the HTTP, XML, and SOAP infrastructure as the internet
transport mechanism for various proprietary application architectures.

- An attempt to impose a subscription model on application software that has
few obvious advantages to anyone except software vendors needing a
dependable revenue stream.

What am I missing? Is SOAP the only XML technology in the .NET vision? What
can competent professional software developers do with .NET (when it emerges
from the vapor) that they can't do with HTTP, the various XML technologies,
and Java today?

I take it back.  I *do* see a clear, coherent, pragmatic picture: .NET is a
desperation "Hail Mary" pass attempt over the heads of the DOJ, the
PDA/wireless market that has scorned Windows, the light client/application
service provider business model that potentially threatens to make the
Windows API irrelevant to enterprise developers, the consumers not upgrading
their Windows systems and applications as soon as the "new, improved"
version is available, and the general sense that MS is no longer at the
cutting edge.  But how anyone but MS and its close allies would benefit if
they catch this pass is not a bit clear to me.  And why the rest of the
industry would let them catch it boggles the imagination.

I'd truly *like* to believe (as I did before reading the whitepaper and the
various analyses) that .NET is about using open XML and Internet standards
to facilitate cross-vendor, cross-platform interoperability of applications
and data ... and about the innovation that would result from Microsoft
finally "getting it".  If MS wants people to believe that vision, they're
going to have to show some real user benefit behind the vapor.  But if .NET
is really just .FUD, then keep up the good work :~(

Mike Champion
(usual disclaimer about this being my own opinion, etc. emphasized)


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