Alex Meyer-Gleaves

on web services, wscf

WSCF.blue Roadmap

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The WSCF.blue team has been discussing the features we should include in the next release. Benjy has done a great job summarising the current roadmap on his blog and is inviting feedback. You might feel that important features are missing, or perhaps that a particular feature is a bad idea, and would take the tool in the wrong direction. I decided that I would share what features are important to me, and put out for consideration and feedback some concerns I have with particular features. It is worth noting at this point that this is not an official roadmap, and is really just a summary of the ideas that we have been throwing around.

Having used WSCF.blue in a team environment, I would certainly put having the ability to permanently persist the settings for a web service in a way that makes them easy to share at the top of my list. Perhaps some sort of project structure that keeps your WDSL and XSD files along with your preferences altogether. There are a number of different options that can be applied when generating your web service code, and it is important that this step be repeated consistently, regardless of the developers familiarity with that particular web service. In regards to the actual options, I would also like to see support for WS-Addressing and fault contracts in the WSDL generation process. Adding these into the contract manually becomes another step that could be forgotten.

The issues noted about T4 templates are primarily concerns that I raised with the team. You get great flexibility with such a technology but it does come at a cost. These templates are not immediately approachable to all developers, especially when you are dealing with a complex model with many possible combinations. There are tools that make developing templates a more pleasant experience, but the mixing of static and dynamic content in such a manner still makes it fairly easy to introduce errors. I worry that it would become difficult to determine if a problem exists within the codebase or has been introduced in a customised template. Being an open source project there is only so much time that can be dedicated to support, so making things simple and reliable feels important. There is of course also the issue of upgrading templates, which forces users to migrate their customisations each time changes are made to the original.

Microsoft has released Feature Builder and it looks like it would be a very good fit for a tool like WSCF.blue. It certainly appears to be a considerable improvement over the Guidance Automation Toolkit (enough said). I would think that if we chose Feature Builder as the primary user experience, we would want to write an Ultimate Feature Extension that takes advantage of the modeling and visualization features that exist in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate Edition. This is the point that you can start to do some really interesting things with Feature Builder. The problem is of course the requirement to have the most recent and expensive version of Visual Studio. My concern here is that we would make the tool inaccessible to a number of developers, and we really want as many people as possible to use the tool and embrace the contract-first approach.

There are a lot of great ideas on the roadmap and some really interesting technology choices to be made. I would be glad to hear your thoughts on any of these issues and the roadmap in general.

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Alex Meyer-Gleaves

I'm a software architect living in Australia (that island like continent in the southern hemisphere). I love Microsoft .NET and C#. I hate early mornings and bad drivers.