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So Many Choices, So Little Time


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he 1st quarter of this year has been one of the most challenging and interesting quarters for me in some time. I have been working with a client to help them switch to a new platform using Visual Studio .NET, C#, .NET Framework and Microsoft SQL Server. Helping them define this platform was actually the easy part. The challenging part has been in selecting the parts of the VS.NET/SQL Server platform appropriate for their development team. The challenge is to select tools/techniques that will help them develop their applications far into the future. This is where a crystal ball would be nice. Here some of the choices we're considering:

DataSets

  • Typed
  • Untyped
Report Authoring
  • SQL Server Reporting Services
  • Active Reports
  • Crystal Reports
Multi-Tier Technology
  • Web Services
  • Remoting
  • Enterprise Services
Grids
  • Native .NET Framework Grid (Not!)
  • Component One Grid
  • Infragistics Grid
Now the trick is to take a look at each of these tools/technologies and decide which ones will be around for some time. We're trying to predict which ones could change in the future and not disrupt the development plans of the company. Some decisions are easier than others. In the grid category both Component One and Infragistics grids are good candidates.

The others are not so easy. In the DataSet category we have yet to reach consensus. I posted messages on some online forums and there is no real consensus among those developers. Each technology has its own advantages and disadvantages. Another difficult decision is in the report authoring category. Each reporting tool has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. This area was thrown wide open when Microsoft Reporting Services arrived on the scene.



So what does this mean for CoDe Magazine readers? Creating CoDe Labs
Later in the year, look for a new column called CoDe Labs. Each column will examine the various tools and technologies available to .NET developers today.

With so many choices out there, this column will help developers and managers decide which technologies are right for their development shops. Each issue will take a hard look at a particular technology or set of tools and present the pros and cons of using that technology or tool. We hope this column will be helpful in deciding your development directions. We've been debating about the format of the testing and how to present it. As a publication built by developers for developers, we feel particularly pushed not to do a half-effort product review. I welcome your comments on this topic. What elements of software testing have you read that you think were particularly good? What was weak? What hasn't been done that you'd like to see? Do you want it presented online differently than in print? What categories or specific products do you want to read about? What are the decision points for you when you're evaluating a product? As you can see, it's a lot to get your head around. Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005
It's finally been announced. The next versions of VS.NET and SQL Server won't ship until 2005. This doesn't stop us from presenting content. In the coming issues we will be adding more content about Yukon and Whidbey so you can be prepared as these products enter beta and get closer to shipping.

Heard on .NET Rocks
CoDe Magazine and .NET Rocks have joined forces. In this issue you'll read the first column from Carl Franklin, founder and host of .NET Rocks and an all around icon in the VB community himself. .NET Rocks is a great show that interviews the "players" of the .NET development community. Take a listen at www.franklins.net/dotnetrocks/. —Rodman out!



   
Rod Paddock is Editor-in-Chief of CoDe Magazine.
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