Microsoft declares its modeling love with a new language, 'D'

Summary:A handful of Microsoft's top developers are working to create a new programming language, code-named "D," which will be at the heart of the Microsoft's push toward more intuitive software modeling.

A handful of Microsoft's top developers are working to create a new programming language, code-named "D," which will be at the heart of the Microsoft's push toward more intuitive software modeling.

D is a key component of Microsoft's Oslo software-oriented architecture (SOA) technology and strategy. Microsoft outlined in vague terms its plans and goals for Oslo in late fall 2007, hinting that the company had a new modeling language in the works, but offering no details on what it was or when the final version would be delivered.

D will be a declarative language aimed at non-developers, and will be based on eXtensible Application Markup Language (XAML), sources, who asked not to be named, said.

Sources close to Microsoft confirmed the existence of D, which they described as a forthcoming "textual modeling language." In addition to D, sources said, Microsoft also is readying a comlementary editing tool, code-namd "Intellipad," that will allow developers to create content for the Oslo repository under development by Microsoft. (Intellipad is the "Emacs.Net" text editor for which Microsoft has seeking developers over the past couple of months.)

What, exactly is a "declarative" programming language? According to that old standby, Wikipedia, a program is "declarative," if it describes what something is like, as opposed to how to build it. To some, a declarative program needs to be written in a purely functional programming language. HTML Web pages are examples of declarative programs.

At last week's Lang.Net 2008 conference -- a meeting of programming gurus from Microsoft and other vendors held on the Redmond campus -- Microsoft's Chief Modeling Officer Don Box provided some more clues about where Microsoft is going on the tool and platform front with Oslo. Box said Microsoft wasn't interested in creating some grandiose 1980s' style computer-aided-software-engineering (CASE) tool; it was thinking more along the lines of providing a class designer. The goal, according to Box: "putting more and more of your application into data and putting less in code."

The Windows Communications Framework (WCF) team, of which Box has been a part since WCF was codenamed "Indigo," is just one of a number of divisions at Microsoft interested in "moving the line" between data and code more towards data

With Oslo, Microsoft is endeavoring to "deliver a world class and mainstream modeling platform that helps the roles of IT collaborate and enables better integration between IT and the business," according to the company's Web site. Next-generation versions of a number of Microsoft products -- BizTalk Server V6, System Center V5, Visual Studio V10, BizTalk Services V1 and .NET Framework V4 -- for which there are no ship targets available from Microsoft, are all part of the Oslo vision.

If I were a betting woman, I'd say we'll likely see a technology preview of D by the time the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) hits in late October. I'm doubtful Microsoft will say more about D, but I've got a query into the company about it.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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