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October 1998

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Editor's Note

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Unless the headless horseman has smashed a pumpkin into your head one too many times on your jaunt home from those late-night coding sessions, you know that COM is everywhere. So it comes as no surprise that this recent release of Visual Studio, and Visual C++ in particular, continue the COM foundation. In this issue, you'll explore Joe Massoni's Visual C++ porting tricks and treats. Next, Paul DiLascia bobs for the latest shiny MFC apples. While this issue certainly doesn't unmask all that Visual Studio has to offer, it's interesting to see to what extent all of the Visual tools are becoming hauntingly similar—much of the credit being owed to COM.
You'll unearth team-based development features in the enterprise edition of Visual Studio. All of the language products can share and manage code, components, documentation, and so on through the Visual Component Manager (VCM). The VCM allows developers to easily publish, find, and catalog components, including ActiveX controls, COM components, Java applets, HTML and ASP pages, UML models, specifications, and source code.
Eek! UML models? What are those? Unified Modeling Language is an information model akin to Visual Basic's Component Gallery by which components are grouped in packages with properties and tagged with keywords. The Microsoft Visual Modeler is the abstraction costume under which the various information models will hide.
Getting back to the Visual Component Manager, the VCM's native store is the Microsoft Repository 2.0 (Boo! more COM), allowing components to be stored on either SQL Server or Microsoft Access databases. The Microsoft Repository is not the daytime dwelling place of the Microsoft Undead. Rather, the Repository allows component information to be shared—not only by multiple team members, but also by multiple tools. The Microsoft Repository enables tool interoperability across the application (after-)life cycle. The Repository is composed of a set of COM interfaces that can be used to define open information models. It is also the engine used to manage component storage, versioning, concurrency, and so on.
But wouldn't this technology suck the blood from the leading application development and data warehouse tool vendors? No—in fact, it was collectively designed and reviewed by them. These tool vendors are confident enough about the Repository's architecture that they will entomb it within their own tools and abandon their proprietary storage technologies.
The VCM allows many repository databases to be open simultaneously, so developers are able to maintain a set of component repositories. You may have a personal component stash on Microsoft Access, your project team's repository of goodies on SQL Server, and a companywide repository on SQL Server. Both the VCM and the Repository are extensible through SDKs, allowing you to build repository applications and VCM handlers to manage your specific component types.
Fear not, Visual SourceSafe is not lost to the netherworld. It is still another management tool in Visual Studio, along with the VCM and the Repository at the core.
Have we left you wanting more of this tale? Then we recommend a séance to Before dawn strikes, we wanted to add that MSJ and our sister pub MIND now have newsgroups located at news:// magazines.msj and news:// microsoft.public.magazines.mind.

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