Open Source Highlights at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference

by hanrahat on November 04, 2008 11:32am

At last week's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, product previews and announcements, particularly of Windows Azure, Windows 7 and Visual Studio Team System 2010, generated a lot of buzz.  Throughout the week, an important undercurrent to that story was Microsoft's engagement with the open source community and its support for open source developers. 

Certainly one of the open source highlights for the week was Miguel de Icaza's presentation, "Mono and .Net."   In spite of arriving on time for the session, I wound up viewing it from the second overflow room.  Miguel talked about innovations on which the Mono community has focused recently, including their embedded C# compiler.  His game demos of the technology were fun and amazing to watch.   You can see them for yourself here.

Members of my team spent the month leading up to the conference developing three demonstrations of Windows Azure's ability to support open source developers and open source applications.   We ran all three at the Open Source pedestal in the Microsoft booth and each was highlighted in a session during the conference.

One of the demos shows how developers can use Eclipse to create applications and deploy them as Azure services.  It relies on an Eclipse community plug-in "Emonics" for displaying C# syntax and a "proof-of-concept" Azure plug-in we created for building and deploying the application.   This demo was highlighted in Steve Marx's presentation, "Developing and Deploying Your First Cloud Service," which you can find here.

The second demo shows how an open source application can access services from Azure.  In this one, we chose the popular PHP application Gallery and show how it can store, retrieve and modify photos as binary large objects (BLOBs) in the cloud.   To produce this demo we wrote two small modules, one to create wrappers that represent the BLOB REST API as PHP objects and another to create an Azure subclass with inheritance from the Windows NT Platform class.

We created the third demo to illustrate how an open source developer can use OpenID to authenticate users from an Azure service.  For this one, we modified a demo blog service (based on and gave users the option of authenticating through either OpenID or Live ID. 

Both the Gallery and OpenID demos were highlighted in Daniel Wang and Stefan Schackow's presentation, "Cloud Computing: Programming in the Cloud."  You can find Daniel and Stefan's presentation here.

The excitement that PDC produced was remarkable.   I moved through a steady stream of developers for four days, all of us sustained it seems by tables of fruit, powerbars and various forms of chocolate.  I enjoyed meeting and talking with many of the attendees and as always appreciate how much I learn in those conversations.

I want to thank Steve Marx, Daniel Wang and Stefan Schackow for sharing the stage with us.  Kudos to Hank Janssen, Anandeep Pannu, Garrett Serack and Joel Penner for creating the Azure demonstrations we used throughout the week.  And a tip of my hat to Miguel for making the week so fun.

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