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At first, by the tone of the message, I thought that it was an ironic view
of the new longhorn trend. But after I read the original article, I
discovered with surprise that it was simply an extract from the original
MSDN article from Petzold. I was even more surprised because Petzold usually
doesn't write that way. Anyway...
Thinking more seriously about this, I think that including declarative
programming to define application's user interface is good. Off course, we
all discovered (or for the old foxes - re-discovered) that with browsers.
Generalizing this paradigm to the entire platform will put declarative
programming on the map or more precisely will bring declarative programming
to the mainstream programmer more accustomed to "object oriented" or
Moreover, I think that the declarative programming influence won't stop at
Microsoft. Usually, the open source developers are closely following what
Microsoft is doing. I expect to see XML based languages like perhaps XUL to
be included in gnome or KDE. However, if Gnome and KDE use the same language
as Microsoft, the impact would even be greater and would probably put some
W3C technologies out of the picture. Strategically, both KDE and Gnome
should also "embrace and expand" to gain some market share. I doubt they
will do it since the will to win is less strong than the will to "be against
the devil empire". Nonetheless, if by some luck, leaders of these
communities learned some strategic tricks and want to win some market share,
the "embrace and expand" strategy can potentially transform the web as we
know it. We would move from a model based on fat and "intelligent" servers
and thin and "dumb" browsers to a distributed computing model. Obviously the
latter is superior to the former. It unfortunate for the "mighty mainframe
paradigm", but distributed computing is a far superior paradigm.
What is the potential impact if such scenario occurs?
a) Some players in the "application server" arena will suffer a lot :-)
b) Users will experiment better "web" applications.
c) The notion of enterprise applications will be transformed from fat server
thin client to the notion of web application moving from a three tiers to
two tiers architecture. As we know, the actual three tiers architecture is
based on 1) the data sources (most of the time relational DB), 2)
application servers (most of the time java based), 3) dumb terminals (a.k.a
web browsers). A two tiers architecture would be based on data sources
(providing XML streams or web applications in the future), client
application execution environment. In the two tier environment, process is
balanced between the client and the server. Also, asynchronous processing is
now possible, hence allowing on-line and off-line processing more
telecommute or mobile users.
c) The notion of web browser will slowly disappear and be replaced with the
notion of applications. Or the notion of browser will be now limited to text
publication (until, someone put on the market an application able to publish
d) W3C will find its influence limited to portable devices (no longer on
desktop or laptop devices). Actually, these device vendors are not under
Microsoft influence. These devices use SMIL, XHTML and java. It's very
unlikely that they will embrace Microsoft new user interface declarative
e) Universities will finally include XML based declarative programming in
So yes, indeed, the impacts are potentially huge. Expect to see in the near
future a lot of analyst report telling us the impact of longhorn. By the
way, if someone needs an analyst, your humble servant is available and ready
to discuss a good opportunity.
Didier PH Martin