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Microsoft releases new CTP of Oslo SDK

The January 2009 release is giving developers a better idea of how Oslo's tools and languages will look, but its relationship to Windows and the .NET framework is still up in the air.

On March 2, Microsoft made a new version of its Oslo SDK download available. This January 2009 CTP replaces the earlier October 2008 CTP, which must be uninstalled before the new version can be put into place.

Oslo is a model-driven application platform that is hoping will make service-oriented architecture (SOA) easier to conceptualize, build and deliver. The company's self-proclaimed goal for Oslo is pretty ambitious: "…to provide a 10x productivity gain by making model-driven applications mainstream." The idea is to shift development focus away from low-level implementation and more toward business' data.

Oslo is still early in its development. Oslo works only with Vista and XP on the client side and Server 2003 R2 and 2008 on the server side. It also requires working with Visual Studio 2008 as a development platform and SQL Server 2008 to provide a data repository.

Oslo consists of four primary components, designed to facilitate creation and use of domain-specific models and model-driven programming. The first is a family of programming languages, called M, designed to permit domains to be created textually. Next, a visual development tool code-named Quadrant will let developers visually edit domains. Oslo will also include a repository for managing domain models -- currently SQL Server 2008 -- and a library of pre-fabricated domain models and languages.

Currently, the M family includes MGraph, a graphing structure similar to the JSON syntax; MSchema, which builds on MGraph by adding support for structural types; and MGrammar, which describes domain-specific languages (DSLs) in terms of token and syntax rules, which can be used to parse text into MGraph form. Some DSLs under discussion include MService for describing services and MEntity for describing basic data and record structures.

So far, the SDKs have rested on .NET and Visual Studio 2008, but Microsoft hasn't yet finalized its plans concerning the relationship between the .NET Framework, Windows and Oslo. Given the importance of those technologies to other Microsoft efforts and their involvement in current Oslo SDKs, it's not unreasonable to presume that those plans will include some role for .NET and Windows.

Perhaps more importantly, Microsoft also provides models for workflow, Web services and Web applications as part of the Oslo library. These models give developers some real leverage when it comes to DSLs and applications. From a programming language perspective, this is an extremely interesting project; as a long-term strategy for Microsoft development technologies, I believe it paints a picture of things to come beneath the Microsoft development umbrella.

Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at with comments, questions or suggested topics or tools to review.

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