Visual Studio Express users not already familiar with the C4F initiative will probably find all the technology coalescing around this mini-platform pretty darn interesting. By itself, the C4F Developer Kit includes a whole host of capabilities. These include such things as drag'n'drop controls that support numerous Vista APIs and Web Service wrappers, complete source code in Visual Basic and Visual C# for all controls and examples, and a C4F Dashboard from which users can operate the C4F Developer Kit as well as the Vista P2P Developer Kit.
Of course, this leads directly into the latter subject—namely, the Vista P2P Developer Kit. Working with Visual Studio Express and the C4F Dashboard, this toolset lets developers create their own peer-to-peer applications using purely visual coding techniques, so that no direct coding is really necessary at all. It also provides a simple set of drag'n'drop WinForm and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) controls that users can employ to solicit user input and display results in all kinds of interesting formats and layouts.
In the interests of serving a beginner to novice audience, Microsoft also supports these tools with QuickStart documentation that provides detailed, step-by-step instruction, and walks readers through detailed examples to help them understand exactly what the Vista P2P Toolkit can do, how it works, and how it may be most easily and quickly put to use. With an obvious leaning toward flash and dash, the Vista P2P Toolkit is especially conducive to building applications that can stream video and music, share files, and support chat operations, or combine some or all of these features into a single application simply by clicking through the right tools and menu choices.
While this kind of capability is likely to appeal most to unsophisticated audiences uninterested in efficiency, scalability, or optimization, it's still worth looking into for low-budget in-house toolsmithing and throwaway programming tasks. There's a surprising amount of capability here that even experienced programmers are bound to like, and be able to put to good use fast.
Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail Tittel with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!