What do the announcements at Mix mean for the Visual Basic developer?


At the Mix conference today in Las Vegas, Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie were dropping goodies like tootsie pops from a piñata. There was so much packed into their over two hour keynote that I thought it would be useful to distill the announcements down into one bite-sized post that should make for a pretty quick read (but unfortunately, includes no code samples.)

          VB on Silverlight – In short, this means that you can now use Visual Basic as the code-behind for whiz-bang rich interactive applications that run on Windows or the Mac and can run in IE, Firefox, and Safari. You can download the alpha .NET-enabled release but to develop you will need the Visual Studio Extensions for Silverlight for “Orcas” Beta1.  


          Unparalleled support for dynamic languages – As you may have noticed us hinting at over the past couple of years now, VB has certain aspects to it that are dynamic – late binding, explicit member indexing, runtime conversions and operators, etc. With Silverlight comes the introduction of the DLR, a shared runtime component for dynamic languages atop .NET. There are many, many, things this means for VB that will unfold over the coming months, but one of the most important ones is that it will enable simple interoperability between Visual Basic and the other dynamic languages on .NET like Ruby, Python, and JScript.  


          Live Services – The Live Services team has created Windows Live in a Box that will allow you to begin integrating rich photo experiences, search, contacts and more into your applications.  


          Productivity Frameworks – Scott and Ray didn’t talk about this in their keynote, but with Mix comes a couple of new productivity frameworks. The first is Dynamic ASP.NET controls which uses runtime database schema and coding conventions to data-bind and generate ASP.NET pages. The second is “Jasper”, a dynamic data access layer that is indep endent of a presentation technology which sits atop the Entity Framework. We’re looking forward to seeing the reception for these kinds of frameworks.

So, that’s the two-bite version of the announcements… Over the next couple of weeks we’ll post new entries, videos, and samples demonstrating what each of these means in detail – though for some dirty details, you’ll have to wait for the PDC.

I’ll be at VSLive next week to talk about LINQ and Integrated XML in VB Orcas. I also have my turn for the webcast series for the VB LINQ deep dive and TechEd not that shortly after I get back – so I’ve got some work to do! Enough overview, back to coding!


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