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Microsoft releases programming tool betas

They're part of Windows Vista's WinFX programming framework

By Eric Lai
January 18, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. today released updated beta versions of its programming tools for building Web services and workflow-enabled applications on Windows.
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is a framework that aids developers in creating next-generation Web services; Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) is a workflow engine, programming model and set of tools for building workflow-enabled applications.
The tools are part of the upcoming Windows Vista operating system's WinFX programming framework, an object-oriented, managed API that works with Microsoft's .Net programming platform and replaces the Win32 API.
Slated for final release later this year, these "Go Live" releases of WCF and WWF have been through additional reliability testing for developers who want to deploy applications now, said Ari Bixhorn, director of Web services strategy for Microsoft. "We want developers to really kick the tires," he said.
Bixhorn noted that Microsoft is using these parts of WinFX internally to build upcoming versions of Sharepoint and BizTalk Server.
Mark Nixon, a lead systems architect at St. Louis-based Emerson Process Management Inc., said his company has been using WCF for a year and a half to help write code that controls the industrial machinery it sells.
Nixon said WCF is more secure than previous Microsoft frameworks, such as COM or .Net, and is easier to work with because it simplifies otherwise laborious tasks. "I can now have my software turn a monitor off without writing all sorts of low-level plumbing code," Nixon said, adding that his developers can save up to 25% in development time using WCF.
Though designed for Vista, applications built with WCF should be able to run on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 now, said Jason Bloomberg, an analyst at Zapthink.
WCF supports better editing of configuration files in Visual Studio 2005, he said, while WWF supports state-machine workflows. He said the most interesting new feature is that WWF's file format is now aligned with XAML, an XML-based standard for displaying business process information.
Emerson's Nixon said Microsoft could try to improve on WCF by making it "even easier" to create applications. "They've done a lot, but there's still a lot to do," he said.

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