Microsoft details new domain-specific modelling tools

Microsoft has announced a new framework and tool for Visual Studio Team System to support the creation of service-oriented...

Microsoft has announced a new framework and tool for Visual Studio Team System to support the creation of service-oriented applications for various vertical industries.

The new technology is part of a Community Technology Preview released by Microsoft to help users and suppliers test it with the design tools that will ship with Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

Microsoft earlier this year detailed plans for VSTS, which it said will provide development, design and testing tools in a single product that can bolster collaboration among architects, developers and IT professionals. 

The framework and tool will allow users to add customised modelling that could, for example, layer regulatory policy enforcement to the generic tools planned for VSTS, said Prashant Sridharan, Microsoft's lead product manager for Visual Studio. 

"The kind of service-oriented applications I would build in the retail industry are dramatically different from the services I would build in the healthcare industry," he said. "Instead of using a generic set of tools, I can specialise those tools for the work I do. I am constrained so that I don't go off track or do something that is not permitted." 

Domain-specific languages are part of an industry effort to foster "software factories" to tailor the development life cycle to support customised applications for vertical and horizontal business domains. 

The announcement shows Microsoft is working to address the needs of more enterprise-scale development projects "where there is a need to have much more control over the development process" than in smaller team efforts, said Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner. 

Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Meta Group said the VSTS announcement also strengthens Microsoft's leadership in the web services arena with .net.  "There is a lot of pressure building in the market for Java to move beyond its response of web services API support and for the platform to prove itself out. Unfortunately, this is an area where Java's various supporters each are trying to build differentiation." 

As a result, the battleground is evolving to .net vs IBM's WebSphere, BEA Systems' WebLogic and SAP's NetWeaver, as opposed to .net vs J2EE, he added. 

Microsoft was scheduled to make the announcement in Vancouver at the ACM Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications.

Siemens and Unisys announced plans to use the new technology to deliver domain-specific language designers for specific industries. And tools supplier Borland Software said it plans to provide a domain-specific modelling solution that would deliver Unified Modeling Language capabilities within VSTS. 

Heather Havenstein writes for Computerworld

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