SearchVB.com Site Experts took time recently to review some recent products of note, without picking outright favorites or 'winners.' Seen together, their comments draw an interesting picture of what works in the shareware world and the software business.
ARTech's DeKlarit, Telerik's r.a.d.controls, and VMWare Workstation were among the products that came in for special note. The selections convey trends. A return to rapid application development is seen in DeKlarit, but one that is aligned with best practices and useful patterns. Surprisingly, perhaps, there is no lack of readiness to embrace DeKlarit-style auto-generated code solutions -- if they are well-conceived.
"Seamless interaction" of tool and IDE seem to be a major value point. Being able to better understand code seems to be a popular goal. Software that helps one handle code versioning reviews is of interest. For vendors, it seems, it helps to have a niche and stay one step ahead of MS in that area one has marked off to be good at. Of course niches can become big enough to drive a truck through, as with the virtual machine (VM) craze that VMware initiated -- some would say 'reinitiated' -- a few years ago.
Here are some samplings of expert commentary related to this year's product highlights:
"In these days where Software Factory is little more than a buzzword for most people, Deklarit provides one of the best success cases on what it means to provide a Software Factory. It is an amazing product that integrated flawlessly into Visual Studio, and that allows the rapid creation of applications that follow best architectural as well as coding practices, by means of automatic generation of most of its code. Not only that, but it leverages all of MS patterns & practices guidance and application blocks, and is continuously updated with their latest additions. If you're in the rapid software development business, Deklarit can be a powerful ally. It brings back into VS the RAD that was lost pretty much when .NET and all its gory complexity came out."
"It's one of those cases where it's such a universal tool for intermediate to advanced .NET developers that it has become part of their language: you spent some time "reflectoring" System.XML, or you "reflectored" a method and found something amazing about its inner workings. Even though VS 2005 comes with a built-in object browser and metadata explorer, these fall way short in comparison."
"One of the more interesting features of Reflector is that it offers a plug-in model that allows for its extension thus enabling others to provide lots of additional functionality like supporting for disassembling into additional languages (i.e., C++), generating source files, code metrics, and so on."
Araxis Merge Professional 6.5
"Comparisons in Araxis Merge doesn't stop at the file level as the product supports also folder comparisons which is very handful when syncing source trees or developing web applications where you usually have to compare locally deployed files against production ones looking for that minor difference that is making the application behave different on both environment."
"A late-year entrant, Mindreef Coral immediately set a new standard for tools for working with service-oriented applications. Plenty of tools have bitten off some little piece of working with SOAs, but Coral is the first to provide and end-to-end browser-based development environment to handle everything from setting standards to contract-first design to tools to simplify debugging to simulating the responses that a Web service will give after it's built. The interface is clean and attractive."
"Some ISVs would give up to find Microsoft invading their core market, but VSoft reacted to MSBuild and Visual Studio Team System by simply improving their IDE for building complex software projects to the point where it overshadows anything Microsoft has even contemplated. Keep impressing with their ability to find useful new features to add to the product."
VMWare Workstation 5.5
"VMware continues to stay safely ahead of the competition in the virtual machine arena with the latest release of their Workstation product (as well as the free VMware Player, which lets anyone run a virtual machine built with the full product). With new features like support for 2-way SMP, the ability to open Microsoft and Symantec images, and support for 64-bit host and guest operating systems, VMware continues to define the state of the art in their niche."
"Telerik hasn't made so much noise, but they're released some pretty amazing ASP.NET controls. With excellent cross-browser support, great documentation and samples, and attractive visual effects (as well as good prices), these are the sorts of controls that make you realize you're wasting your time when you try to roll your own."
"Infragistics has long been a favorite when it comes to user interface design. They constantly update they control packs to take advantage of the latest .NET framework innovations, and are a natural complement to them. They even license their source code if you want it! A must have, specially given that the vast majority of built-in controls in .NET are completely useless and lack the most basic features a professional UI builder needs."