Microsoft is making available a first, publicly available test build of a developer toolset that allows programmers to write Web applications using existing .Net-based tools and languages.
The toolset -- code-named "Volta" (and previously code-named "Tesla") -- is the brainchild of Erik Meijer, a SQL Server architect whose new title is principal architect of Volta. Meijer has been talking up for the past couple of years the concept of "democratizing the cloud" via the programing of multi-tier, distributed applications.
On December 5, Microsoft made a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the Volta toolset available for download. In order to use the toolset, developers need Visual Studio 2008, which Microsoft released to manufacturing in late November.
How Microsoft ultimately will distribute and package Volta is still up in the air, according to Meijer and Alex Daley, Group Product Manager of Microsoft Live Labs. (Live Labs is now the official "home" for Volta.) Meijer and Daley also declined to say which divisions inside Microsoft have been test-driving Volta, other than the Live Labs team.
"LINQ (Language Integrated Query) and Volta are the two pillars for democratizing the cloud," Meijer said. "It's taken ten years for me to solve this problem. It will take another decade for this to be where it needs to be."
Volta allows developers to prototype and refine their client-server applications, including Ajax-style Web apps. It is especially suited for applications where developers can't or shouldn't partition functionality up-front between client and server.
Just as Visual Basic made client-based application development available to a wider tier of developers, Volta is designed to make Web programming simpler, according to Microsoft officials. Volta isn't meant to be an alternative to the Ajax programming model, the Softies said.
Anyone out there interested in giving Volta a whirl? What kinds of projects/apps could you envision using Volta to develop?