As the new year unfolds before us here at MSJ, it's time to look forward and make some predictions for the new year. While this is not a feat beyond the ability of MSJ's crack team of scientists, programmers, and creative types, a recent visit to the Win32 PDC down at Long Beach made things a little easier.|
Microsoft Internet Studio will finally provide that
all-in-one high-end Web development tool we've been looking for on the software shelves for months. In addition to creating HTML scripts and plopping ActiveX components down on your pages, Internet Studio also makes it easy to get database contents transcribed
on-the-fly into customer-specific HTML pages. For example, if you take a look at the online movie guide
http://www.777film.com, you will see that it is really a giant movie database tailored to the customer's particular needs. With Internet Studio, you can write such customizable database Web apps using templates and wizards. We look forward to the proliferation of database-derived Web pages. Expect to read plenty more about Internet Studio in the pages of both MSJ and our sister publication MIND in the coming year.
Visual Basic will find even more use in 1997, as it becomes the best front end to Microsoft's new distributed transaction server technology, codenamed Viper. Viper changes the client-server architecture many of us work with today and replaces it with a three-tiered architecture. Viper is the middle tier, acting as a liaison between the client front ends and the data store back ends. Viper embodies the business rules in its middle tier (currently implemented as stored procedures on the back end) via lightweight COM objects, and easily uses OLE DB (discussed in the July 1996 issue) to communicate with the database back end. Although you can use any COM-based tool to write front ends and business rule components, Visual Basic makes it easy to write COM objects, hence our expectations of even more adopters of this language. Look for intense Viper coverage in MSJ during the coming months, including tips on making the paradigm shift of moving the business rules from the back end to the middle tier. You'll also see ramped-up coverage of Visual Basic and all its hybrids, since it is becoming the language of choice for distributed computing.
Voice recognition will start to work well this year. Animated, Microsoft Bob-like assistants will fly around your Web pages and give you advice via the spoken word. And you will be able to speak back to them, asking them such questions as "What town did Newt Gingrich retire to?", "Tickets to 'Rent' aren't available until when?", and "Could you make that a double-tall two percent no-lid with just a dash of foam on top?" Provided the current page in your browser is programmed to answer political trivia, order Broadway tickets, or handle espresso orders to go, chances are you will get information at your fingertips without touching the keyboard.
Of course, there are plenty of other topics you'll read about in MSJ this year, and plenty of topics won't make the cut. We'll keep up our breakneck coverage of ActiveX technologies, Java and Visual J++, Win32, and Windows NT 5.0, as well as continue our theoretical discussions, like Allen Holub's MFC series that concludes in this issue. Topics that won't make the cut? That seven-part series on migrating Web apps from Internet Explorer to Navigator comes to mind. Same goes for "Getting Something Out of Nothing: NC Hard Disk Compression and You." And you won't see Dr. Ruth doing a new column on ActiveSex controls anytime in the future. Here's wishing you good ActiveX in 1997!