I have just returned from a busy two days in the Washington DC area for XML-in-Practice 2009. The event was held in the Arlington VA Hilton on September 30 and October 1. The conference’s purpose is to showcase real world applications and solutions that XML has enabled, enhanced and or made possible. The event was put together by the IDEAlliance and in tradition with the XML Conference, the tracks covered a number of different topics with technical depth and explored issues beyond the fundamentals. The tracks included the Electronic Medical Records Summit covering President Obama’s Economic Plan, eGovernment Program , Publishing & Media Program , Applications, Foundations and Interoperability Program, and a Tools Summit. You can also find the Conference Program.
I wore a few hats at the event, I was a member of the Program Advisory Committee, was a co-chair/track leader of the Applications, Foundations and Interoperability Program with G. Ken Holman from Crane Softwrights Ltd. and co-presented a session on Open Government and Interoperability with Dan Kasun who leads our US Developer and Platform Evangelism Public Sector team. The session gave us an opportunity to start a discussion about how Microsoft is participating, sharing our thoughts and work in engaging with Recovery.gov which is built on SharePoint and consumes multiple disparate data sources, interoperates with a number of other technologies, and to share our Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) which complements Data.gov
Keith Hurwitz, our State and Local Government Evangelism Manager on Dan’s team, also participated in the Demo Jam at the reception hosted by one of our InteropVendorAlliance.org partners Mark Logic using OGDI. He dived deeper into OGDI in a session the next day titled Microsoft’s eGovernment Solutions: Government Transparency and Cloud Computing: Publishing government data in Windows Azure with Microsoft’s Open Government Data Initiative open source toolkit. Keith shared some of the thinking on how it can be used, it’s architecture and demonstrating some good examples, including the OGDI sample site and a visualization by a partner IDV Solutions called Visual Fusion that utilizes the OGDI data. OGDI is a great cloud solution for Government hosted on Windows Azure. It supports calling from a number of different languages including Flash, Java, Silverlight, Google Maps and Bing Maps. It also utilizes some of the Technical Bridges that have been highlighted on this blog including the Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services, Open XML Daisy Translator. OGDI has also been used as a demo in our latest technical bridge published, Restlet Extension for ADO.NET Data Services.
I had a great opportunity to learn a bunch of new stuff and I would like to thank the organizers, IDEAlliance, it’s board, the track leaders and members of the advisory committee, our great speakers and to the attendees for the interaction and stimulating conversation. Special thanks to Joy Donat and Ken Holman for cat herding. I look forward to working with you all again at the next event.
Jas Sandhu Senior Technical Evangelist, Interop Vendor Alliance Manager, Interoperability Strategy Team Twitter@jassand, FriendFeed@jassand
Today, Microsoft announced a new XMPP Gateway for Office Communications Server 2007 R2 that enables interoperability with Cisco Jabber/XMPP and Google Talk, along with new licensing options for Office Communications Server customers to connect with AOL and Windows Live (read the details of the announcement).
I had a chance to seat down with Ashima Singhal (Senior Product Manager) and Albert Kooiman (Senior Product Manager) from the Communication Server team to discuss the news focusing on Instant Messaging (IM) interoperability between different networks. Here's what they have to say about how all of this works:
This video is posted on the Channel9 Interoperability topic area: Instant Messaging Interoperability extended through XMPP (Jabber)
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere, Sr. Technical Evangelist
Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) 2.0, formerly known by codename “Geneva” Server, passed SAML 2.0 interoperability testing. You can read more on the Forefront team blog in today’s post: MSFT Identity and Access news: Forefront Identity Manager RC1 and ADFS 2.0 SAML interoperability
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere - Sr. Technical Evangelist
[Update: more details from Noelios Technologies as well as a complete tutorial]
Much of the work that we have collaborated on in the past several months has been centered around PHP, but rest assured we have been focused on other technologies as well. Take Java, for example. A big congratulations goes out this week to Noelios Technologies, which just released a new bridge for Java and .NET.
Noelios Technologies is shipping a new version of the Restlet open source project, a lightweight REST framework for Java that includes the Restlet Extension for ADO.NET Data Services. The extension makes it easier for Java developers to take advantage of ADO.NET Data Services.
Microsoft collaborated with the France-based consulting services firm and provided funding to build this extension to the Restlet Framework. It’s always very exciting for me, as a French citizen living in the United States, to witness French companies like Noelios collaborating with Microsoft to develop new scenarios and bridges between different technologies. Noelios specializes in Web technologies like RESTful Web, Mobile Web, cloud computing, and Semantic Web, and offers commercial licenses and technical support plans for the Restlet Framework to customers around the world.
ADO.NET puts data sources within reach
For those who are relatively new to ADO.NET Data Services, it is a set of recently added .NET Framework features that provides a simple way to expose a wide range of data sources, such as relational databases, XML files, and so on, through a RESTful service interface. Formerly known as “Project Astoria,” ADO.NET Data Services defines a flexible addressing and query interface using a URL convention, and supports the usual resource manipulation methods for data sources, including the full range of Create, Read, Update, and Delete operations.
Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 fully support ADO.NET Data Services, including the capability to create and consume data services directly from the development environment. If you want more information about ADO.NET Data Services, look here. I recommend the “How do I…” videos; the links are located on the right side of the page.
A closer look at the Restlet Extension architecture
The Restlet Extension for ADO.NET Data Services provides a high-level client API that extends the Restlet Framework’s core capability by providing access to remote data services that are hosted on ASP.NET servers or the Windows Azure cloud computing platform.
Java developers use the extension’s code generator to create Java classes that correspond to data entities exposed through ADO.NET Data Services. The Java application is then able to access the data via a simple method call. The runtime components in the Restlet engine and the extension take care of the communication between the Java client application and ADO.NET Data Services.
REST makes it all possible
The Restlet Extension project is a great example of the infinite possibilities that REST affords. Java developers using the Restlet Extension for ADO.NET Data Services can now connect their applications to a .NET platform with relative ease, which means more choices for Java developers and new opportunities for Microsoft.
Looking beyond just the Java-Microsoft bridge, REST is a truly compelling architecture model for enabling interoperability between all kinds of different platforms, regardless whether the applications are run on premise or in the cloud. We’ve recently presented several scenarios that leverage REST (“Viewing government data with Windows Azure and PHP: a cloud operability scenario using REST,” and “A new bridge for PHP developers to .NET through REST: Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services”), and we plan to continue sharing similar scenarios between various technologies.
A big thanks to Stève Sfartz, Jerome Louvel and Thierry Boileau
A very big thanks goes out to my French colleague Stève Sfartz in the DPE Division at Microsoft France. Steve was instrumental in initiating and driving the collaboration during the Restlet Extension project. He has been working for quite some time with Noelios Technologies Cofounders Jerome Louvel and Thierry Boileau using the Restlet Framework to illustrate interoperability scenarios between Java and Microsoft technologies using REST.
If you’re interested in being part of or contributing to the Restlet community, visit www.restlet.org/community/.
And if you want more information about Java interoperability, take a look at the list of Java-Microsoft interoperability projects at www.interoperabilitybridges.com/projects/tag/Java.aspx. It includes Apache POI (OpenXML Java API), Apache Stonehenge (practical SOA/Web services interoperability across platforms), Azure .NET Services SDK for Java, and Eclipse Tools for Silverlight.
The Restlet Extension for ADO.NET Data Services represents yet another bridge added to our growing list of interoperability solutions, and we are very happy about this!
—Jean-Christophe Cimetiere, Sr. Technical Evangelist
Zend Technologies today launched the Simple API for Cloud Application Services project, “a new open source initiative that allows developers to use common application services in the cloud, while enabling them to unlock value-added features available from individual providers.”
The initial goal of the project is to provide a set of programming interfaces for PHP developers to facilitate the development of applications that have basic cloud storage needs.
The project’s announcement includes a quote from Microsoft’s Doug Hauger, General Manager Windows Azure: “Microsoft is pleased to continue to work with Zend and join efforts with other contributors to this project. The Simple Cloud API is an example of Microsoft’s continued investment in the openness and interoperability of its platform. We’re excited to see how this project will foster adoption of cloud computing platforms by PHP developers and hope that many of these developers are encouraged to use Windows Azure.”
What is the Simple API for Cloud Application Services
Cloud computing platforms are new technologies and the platform vendors are innovating rapidly in their platforms to address varied customer needs. Some projects do not require the richness provided by vendor-specific APIs and can instead be built with simple APIs that provide an abstraction layer across different platforms. From a developer’s perspective, simple APIs make it easier to write code that remains the same whatever the destination platform.
This project is pragmatic. The first available implementation of the “Simple API for Cloud Application Services” is provided by Zend who will ship the “Zend Cloud” adapters that will target storage services such as:
It encourages PHP developers to explore cloud computing by writing code that leverages commonalities across different platforms’ storage services. As the developers become proficient and learn each platform, they will be further inclined to learn vendor-specific features to take advantage of richer functionality.
Microsoft’s contribution to the project
A few months ago, Microsoft started to work with Real Dolmen on a Windows Azure SDK for PHP developers. This SDK has been submitted to the Zend Framework (see “July CTP of Windows Azure for PHP Released and support in Zend Framework”) and it now forms the basis of Microsoft’s contribution to the Simple Cloud API project.
PHP developers will be able to program against Windows Azure using the Simple Cloud API to access the main features of Window Azure Storage:
For PHP developers who need to use Windows Azure specific features that are not included in the Simple Cloup API (e.g. Windows Azure storage supports transactions unlike some other cloud storage services) they will be able to combine Simple Cloud API code with Windows Azure storage specific code using the dedicated Windows Azure SDK for PHP. The goal is to allow “developers to use common application services in the cloud, while enabling them to unlock value-added features available from individual providers”.
The Channel9 video provides more information on this announcement:
Windows Azure is an open platform. We believe that initiatives like the Simple Cloud API will benefit adoption of cloud computing platforms by developers. The Simple Cloud API gives PHP developers more choices and for Microsoft this is a great opportunity to encourage them to use Windows Azure.
Let’s meet at www.simplecloud.org
Vijay Rajagopalan, Principal Architect, Microsoft Corp.
This week Microsoft is participating in the first Gov 2.0 Summit produced by O'Reilly Media, Inc. and TechWeb in Washington D.C., to explore how technology can enable transparency, collaboration and efficiency in government. Today, we're pleased to present a cloud interoperability scenario which takes advantage of the recently announced Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services to view public government data with Windows Azure and PHP.
As you may recall, few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services, a new bridge enabling PHP developers to connect to .NET using a RESTful architecture. Today, we've published a cloud interoperability scenario where a Windows Azure application exposes data in a standard way (XML / Atom) and how you can simply “consume” this data from a PHP web application. This scenario takes advantage of the Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI), another piece of Microsoft's Open Government effort, built on the foundation of transparency, choice and interoperability.
A few words about OGDI
The Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) is a project launched in May by our colleagues from the Microsoft Public Sector Developer Platform Evangelism team
In a nutshell, Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) is a cloud-based collection of software assets that enables publicly available government data to be easily accessible. Using open standards and application programming interfaces (API), developers and government agencies can retrieve the data programmatically for use in new and innovative online applications, or mashups.
Data and Platform Interoperability scenario in the cloud
Publicly available government data sets have been loaded into Windows Azure Storage, and the OGDI team built a data service that exposes the data through REST web services, returning data by default in the Atom Publishing Protocol format. The OGDI application uses ADO.NET Data Services to expose the data. On the diagram below you see the list of available data sets: http://ogdi.cloudapp.net/v1/dc.
This list is then accessed by the data browser web application built in PHP. To build the PHP applications the Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services was used by simply generating the PHP proxy classes that would match the data sets exposed through REST at this URI: http://ogdi.cloudapp.net/v1/dc.
Trying out the sample application
The PHP Data browser sample application is deployed on Windows Azure. Although it is not required and it could be deployed on any PHP compatible hosting environment, this sample application showcases a PHP application running on Azure. You can view or download the source of this sample from the demo site: http://ogdiphpsample.cloudapp.net/
The OGDI Service demonstrates some of the possibilities of the Azure platform and you can try the OGDI interactive SDK http://ogdisdk.cloudapp.net to understand how it works, as it features a similar data browser developed in .NET.
This sample application illustrates how you can simply create applications leveraging data and platform interoperability (PHP & .NET). The Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services makes it easier for PHP developers to interoperate with .NET, including Azure which supports multiple internet protocols, including HTTP, REST, SOAP, and XML. This scenario is just one among many we are working on using RESTful architectures. Stay tuned, more to come soon!
Finally, here’s a recap of related resources:
For more information on Microsoft's Open Government efforts and participation at the Government 2.0 Summit, check out: FutureFed, the voice of Microsoft's Federal division.
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere - Sr. Technical Evangelist
[Update - March 16, 2010: the toolkit is now called "OData SDK for PHP", and "ADO.NET Data Services" is now called "WCF Data Services". Check related posts on OData ]
Today, I’m excited to announce that we are releasing a new project that bridges PHP and.NET. More precisely, we are releasing today the Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services which makes it easier for PHP developers to take advantage of ADO.NET Data Services, a set of features recently added to the .NET Framework. ADO.NET Data Services offer a simple way to expose any sort of data in a RESTful way. The Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services is an open source project funded by Microsoft and developed by Persistent Systems Ltd. and is available today on Codeplex: phpdataservices.codeplex.com
You can see an overview and quick demo of the toolkit in the following Channel9 video with Pablo Castro (software architect of ADO.NET Data Services) and me:
ADO.NET Data Services (formerly known as Project “Astoria”) is a technology used to expose a wide range of data sources through a RESTful service interface. Data sources can be relational databases, XML files, and so on. ADO.NET Data Services defines a flexible addressing and query interface using a URL convention, as well as the usual resource manipulation methods on data sources (it supports the full range of Create/Read/Update/Delete operations).
There is full support for ADO.NET Data Services in Visual Studio 2008 SP1 as well as in the upcoming Visual Studio 2010; this includes direct support for both creating and consuming data services directly from the development environment. You can find more information about ADO.NET Data Services here, (I recommend the “How do I…” videos).
You should consider two aspects of the PHP Toolkit:
In the following steps we assume that you have already created the ADO.NET Data Services on top of the Northwind sample SQL Server database (check this “How do I…” video). The service I created exposes data like this, through a simple URL:
The next step is to use the PHPDataSvcUtil.php utility that is part of the toolkit, and point it to the URL of the Data Service. It will read the Data Service metadata and create the PHP proxy classes (called northwinddb.php in our example):
The code generated (northwinddb.php) looks like this:
At runtime, you simply include in your code the northwinddb.php files and the URL of the data service:
And then you can start writing your PHP code to access the data collections. Note the first highlighted line: it defines the query over the data service. Many options are available, the full description of the query format can be found here.
And here is the result:
I hope you enjoy reading this quick introduction to the Toolkit for PHP with ADO.NET Data Services. Feel free to check the project site on Codeplex phpadodataservices.codeplex.com. As always your feedback is welcomed!
Claudio Caldato, Senior Program Manager, Interoperability Technical Strategy team.
O’Reilly OSCON (Open Source Convention) has been an opportunity for Microsoft to make significant announcements and unveil new projects. For sure, Microsoft’s participation did not go unnoticed :), in fact it has been a busy week for us.
First we announced the release of Linux Device Drivers, to enhance the performance of Linux when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. The source code has also been submitted to the Linux Community. Read Peter Galli’s post on Port25: Microsoft Releases Device Driver Code to the Linux Community) and check the Channel9 interview.
The next announcement was the Live Services Plug-in for Moodle, a free download released under the General Public License v2 that integrates Microsoft's Live@edu services such as email, calendar, instant messaging and search directly into the Moodle experience. Read more on the “Microsoft On the Issues” blog: Microsoft Develops Plug-in for Moodle to Aid Teachers, Students and check out the Channel9 interview:
Then Vijay Rajagopalan, Principal Architect for Interoperability Technical Strategy team presented a session titled “Interoperability - Build Mission Critical Applications in PHP, Ruby, Java and Eclipse Using Microsoft Software + Services” where he discussed our approach to interoperability & open source and illustrated this with three (Eclipse4SL, PHP Application development in Azure & .NET Services) of the open source initiatives that enabled bridging Microsoft Software + Service & Open Source Technologies. Finally, Vijay unveiled progress made on PHP SDK for Azure & tooling in Eclipse. He has demoed a prototype earlier this year at MIX. This time Vijay showed us how you can do "create, read, update & delete" (CRUD) operations on Azure Storage from the Eclipse IDE, leveraging the PHP SDK for Azure, screenshot below:
Stay tuned, we’ll be able to say more about this in a few weeks.
Vijay’s presentation is available for download (PDF & PPTX).
It’s been an exciting conference, and I hope you can appreciate all the activities and projects that Microsoft is driving to show openness and interoperability in action.
By the way if you want to follow us more closely on these topics, check out OpenAtMicrosoft twitter line.
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere, Sr. Technical Evangelis
Last week I had a chance to attend a live webcast “Connecting PHP to Microsoft Technologies” presented by my colleague Sumit, where he demoed the PHP projects (samples toolkits, frameworks and SDK) that we announced in May (Announcing PHP SDK for Windows Azure… and much more!).
These projects enable PHP developers to easily extent their web applications using some of the Microsoft technologies. Here’s a recap of the current projects:
Sumit also introduced new project during the webcast:
The offline recording is now available for download at http://www.phparch.com/conferences/webcasts (there are a couple minor glitches in the audio, just skip ahead for a few seconds when it happens ;-) and you’ll find bellow a zip containing Sumit’s presentation (PDF and PowerPoint PPTX)
This webcast is part of CodeWorks 09 summer series organized by PHP|Architect website. The series touch a number of PHP related topics including two additional sessions focused on PHP and Microsoft technologies interoperability. Please mark your calendar:
In addition you might want to check out the free May 2009 issue of php | architect magazine which focuses on running PHP on Windows, and additional technical details on how to use some of the Microsoft products with PHP.
Last week under gaze of the Great Pyramids on the Giza Plateau, the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, I was fortunate to participate in the final ceremony of the Imagine Cup 2009 competition, called the World Festival and the announcement of our Interoperability Award winners. Before I go there I wanted to provide a brief recap of the proceedings of the event.
After a long trip for many of the competitors, judges and the Microsoft staff. My role was captain and finals judge for the Interoperability award and that started with a briefing for all participants, the judges and the competitors plus the ability to tour the competition rooms. After the housekeeping was done with, we all filed for a tour and our opening ceremony at the Citadel in Cairo, a major landmark there housing a beautiful and grand Mosque, a fort and museums. We had a great ceremony in the courtyard with a cool breeze that cut the heat and a beautiful sunset.
We then started the proceedings with a bunch of keynotes and the highlight of the evening was definitely the presentation from Ray Ozzie, our chief software architect at Microsoft who pepped up the students about how they can shape the future through technology, innovation, and creativity with his own personal anecdotes of starting in the world of software. Joe Wilson, senior director of Academic Initiatives at Microsoft, then inspired and gave some advice to our students on the competition, and with all our keynoters joining him onstage started the competition off with a grand laser light display that made our historical venue show off grandly.
I had a spectacular set of judges for our award, the judges pictured here with me, from left Tiago Cardoso from Institute for the Development of New Technologies (UniNova) in Portugal, Rob Miles from University of Hull in the UK and Dennis Anderson from Pace University in New York. They all have great credentials, had an eye for interoperability and were very fair in scoring our teams. We all seemed to be very in sync on how we gave out points. They’re also a fun bunch of guys :) The criteria we used and the points percentages was 10% for Architectural Design, 20% for Innovation, 30% for Interoperability, 20% for Coolness and 20% for Presentation.
The final awards were presented at the World Festival by Jon Perera, General Manager for Education Strategy and Audience Marketing, All of these teams have spent numerous hours perfecting their solutions and highlight a disparate set of technologies and multiple platforms to showcase Interoperability.
… and the winners are …
Third Place, winning US$3,000, went to Team ECRAM from Jordan, with their Elder & Children Remote Mobile Application. Their application allowed for a mobile phone to be remotely control by another client, typically another mobile, especially in the use of elder or child care. It was particularly interesting that it came from a real world problem that one of the team members was facing with his grandmother who wanted to place calls and speak to family members but had difficulties using the phone and required the help of her grandchildren. Being a busy student he was not always available and so thought of solving the problem using technology and software. The system utilized multiple different systems including mobile carriers and web services to solve the problem. Here’s a picture of the team speaking to S. Somasegar, senior vice president of Developer Division at Microsoft
Our Second Place, winning US$4,000 went to Team FteamS from Poland, with their Universal Solution for Remote Education, Eduko. These guys were innovative and cool in the use of disparate technologies on multiple platforms and devices to create a system that enabled teachers and students to interact using a virtual whiteboard system that was enabled on the desktop and even projected on any surface. What was particularly interesting was the use of a WII controller as a camera for their custom IR marker. It served as a very captivating presentation tool. The team also were very smart in the use of mobile devices sending things like text and coursework via SMS and MMS. Very little payload for a lot of information, did you know a single MMS message can send 15 pages of documentation? The guys also put together a very well rehearsed presentation with every team member participating and that impressed our judges too.
Our First Place winner, winning the US$8,000 went to Team Proativa from Brazil, with their Virtualized and Social Education system ProLearning which is designed to maximize the experience of distance learning. The use of an immersive virtual reality environment, where students exchange experience and study together the interaction between tutor and pupils dynamic and communal. they utilized social networks to keep students interested in the learning process and engaged continually not just during a lesson. It was a holistic system that facilitated the learning process end to end and that impressed the judges who were all teachers themselves and whom felt they could use it today in their classes. The students had also the capability of using mobile devices to personal and automatically update students on schedules and prompting their network for activities when doing distance learning. It was also novel that they integrated the social networks, mobile devices and voice over IP to get students who were friends or classmates to engage with each other for lessons making the learning experience a team based activity. The main reason that the team won this award however was that they had built a piece of software on the server that brokered different services that didn’t necessarily plug in with each other serving as a technical bridge of sorts. This proved to be the differentiator that help them cinch the award. They had a rousing fanfare by their Brazilian teammates at the finals by being the first prize recipients of the night and helping their country grab the most awards at the competition this year.
Here are the teams videos entries:
First place Proativa Team from Brazil
Second place FteamS from Poland
Third place: ECRAM from Jordan
I would like to thank all the competitors who participated in the awards, their mentors, Academic Developer Evangelists, family and friends. Congratulations to our final three winners on behalf of the judges, the Interoperability Strategy team and all of us at Microsoft. I know a lot of work and sweat went into your entries and I want to share how much we all appreciate your contributions! I hope that you all will join me again next year for the Interoperability Award at Imagine Cup 2010. See you in Poland!
Jas Sandhu Senior Technical Evangelist, Interoperability Strategy Team Twitter@jassand, FriendFeed@jassand
[Update: Maarten Balliauw has posted some samples. You'll see how easy it is to use the SDK: PHP SDK for Windows Azure - Milestone 2 release]
I am pleased to communicate the availability of July Technology Preview of PHP SDK for Windows Azure. As part of Microsoft’s continued commitment to interoperability, we announced the open source PHP SDK for Windows Azure in May in collaboration with our development partner RealDolmen.
There are two key activities that I am excited about in this release:
We received good feedback in the past couple of months and have addressed a few defects in the blob storage as well.
Submission of PHP SDK for Windows Azure to Zend Framework
Microsoft & RealDolmen have decided to make PHP SDK for Windows Azure available as part of Zend Framework. By extending support for Windows Azure through Zend Framework, millions of PHP developers that use Zend Framework can build web applications seamlessly targeting Windows Azure. Realdolmen has formally submitted the July CTP repository to Zend Framework’s laboratories to begin the review and approval process. Upon approval, Zend Framework will publish a technology preview package of the SDK on the Zend Framework website. We will continue to work closely with Zend to ensure consistency across the standalone and Zend Framework versions of the PHP SDK for Windows Azure.
I worked with Zend when we demonstrated information card interoperability on PHP based web applications through Zend Information card (read this to see it in action) and continue to enjoy the great working experience. I look forward to the release for PHP Support for Windows Azure in Zend Framework.
Support for Table Storage.
The Windows Azure Table service offers structured storage in the form of tables which contain a set of Entities, which contains a set of named Properties. A Few highlights of Windows Azure Table are
The Table service exposes a REST API. The PHP classes for the Table service provide developers with an abstraction upon the REST APIs for CRUD and Query operations. Some of the features supported in this milestone are:
Detailed usage scenarios of Table Storage can be found here
Please note that you need to have the May CTP of Windows Azure to take advantage of the features in this release of PHP SDK for Windows Azure.
- Vijay Rajagopalan
I’m Claudio Caldato, Senior Program Manager in the Interoperability Technical Strategy team here at Microsoft. I’m going to talk about the work Microsoft did with Xandros in response to feedback from Interoperability Executive Customer Council (IEC) member NATO gave us, asking for heterogeneous system management scenarios.
One of my key activities is to follow up on feedback provided by the Interoperability Executive Customer Council. Recently a few members of the council, and in particular NATO, raised the issue of the complexity in managing multiple heterogeneous systems across a large distributed network environment from a single point of access and the need to aggregate status information and alerts to other management applications. This is quite a broad topic, in retrospect!
To narrow down the scope we worked with NATO to define a specific scenario and this scenario formed the basis of the “Multi-Platform System Management” lab. The lab comprised the following Applications and Services
· Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007
Because of the heterogeneous nature of the components, we choose to work under the Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA) with Xandros (a fellow IVA member) to create the following architecture:
The goal for the lab was to demonstrate the following functionality:
We were able to build the lab and, in so doing, are able to demonstrate to others how to solve the interoperability challenges that this sort of environment creates. One of these challenges was how to enable the System Center Operations Manager to manage applications running on Sun Solaris machines. The solution to this challenge came from Xandros in the form of the Xandros Bridgways Management Packs. This management pack is engineered to extend the capabilities of the System Center Operations Manager to applications of both Windows and non-Microsoft platforms, providing us with an ideal solution to the problem at hand.
From a technical perspective, the lab included several other very interesting aspects that I encourage you to discover for yourself. These have been documented in the white paper that’s available on the IVA website under the Multi-Platform System Management Lab. The good news is that we were able to successfully address the specific needs expressed by the IEC Council’s feedback. I find it personally rewarding that we’re able to meet the expectations of our customers… particularly, IEC Council member NATO who commented on the outcome of this lab (quote extracted from the white paper):
“NATO employs a diverse set of hardware and software and has to work with vendors that are committed to work on interoperability, said Detlef Janezic, NATO CIS Services Agency (NCSA) when participating in the Interoperability Executive Council sessions in 2008. NCSA mentioned on behalf of NATO some of the interoperability challenges experienced between Microsoft System Center and HP OpenView product lines. Based on these concerns, Microsoft engaged in an initiative geared to resolve the stated interoperability challenges. This solution was presented to NATO on 24 Mar 2009. The initial assessment of NCSA and the NATO C3 Agency (NC3A) on the chosen approach and its implementation is that the presented solution shows great potential. The two NATO agencies very much appreciate these Microsoft efforts and intend to implement & test the provided solution in its IT environment as soon as possible.”
The Interoperability discussion related to system management does not end here. We continue to work with partners like Xandros, whom I’d like to thank for their help and contribution on setting this interoperability lab up.
Claudio Caldato, Senior Program Manager
As the co-owners of the Microsoft portion of the project, Kent Brown and I would like to thank everybody for their support and share our excitement over the future of the Stonehenge project.
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Microsoft keynoting at JavaOne, and what it could mean to the Java world. Well, now we know that the announcement will be made: Sun has now agreed to participate in the Stonehenge project and will be contributing the Metro-based StockTrader application code. Steven Martin has just posted a note where you’ll find more details on the keynote, and on the new agreement with Sun.
I’d just like to highlight the goals of Stonehenge : “While industry efforts like WS-* make interop possible, it still isn't always obvious or easy to figure out how to configure different products so that they actually interoperate […] Stonehenge will help us complete the “last mile” of interoperability between today’s standards-based infrastructure and tomorrow’s service-based applications.”
I’m really thrilled and looking forward to working with Sun on developing new Stonehenge interoperability scenarios.
Also, as I had hinted in my previous post, the M1 release of Stonehenge incubator project was reached last night. Congratulations to everyone on the Stonehenge team and a warm welcome to our friends from Sun Microssystems.
Additional Stonehenge materials:
Kamaljit Bath, Principal Program Manager
[Update 06/09: JavaOne Radio episode (20 min audio) is available: Chris Mellisinos talks to Steven Martin of Microsoft after the Microsoft General Session keynote address at JavaOne ]
At the RSA Conference 2009 in April, Microsoft’s Scott Charney included a video from a project for the Lake Washington School District in his keynote. The project features a very interesting identity interoperability scenario between the Lake Washington School District’s internal Active Directory and Intand’s Tandem for Schools SaaS application. The key challenges were to manage effectively identities while preserving the security of the users and the system.
The project combines Microsoft code name “Geneva” (the “Geneva” Server and Windows CardSpace “Geneva”) and Intand’s PHP-based Tandem for Schools application that uses the Zend Framework’s information card support for interoperability.
The project is based on upon the use of Microsoft code name Geneva Server, Windows CardSpace Geneva and Intand’s PHP application using the Zend Framework’s information card support for interoperability.
To get deeper and learn more about this exciting project, watch these videos:
Finally I wanted to point out other open source interoperability work our team has been contributing to around information cards for heterogeneous web applications. This includes information card support for Java , Ruby on Rails and a generic C module.
A few weeks ago Microsoft’s Kerberos team participated in the Kerberos Interop Workshop organized by the MIT Kerberos Consortium, being hosted here at the Microsoft campus here in Redmond. I had a chance to spend some time with the Microsoft folks (Michiko Short, Jeremy Viegas, Larry Zhu and Yi Zeng from the Microsoft’s Kerberos team) who participated in the event to discuss what happened. We thought it would be interesting to share a quick summary.
This sort of interoperability workshop is an effort to gather developers together in a single location, to actually plug them into a network environment together and help each other work through the interoperability challenges associated with their current development efforts. In attendance were representatives from Cornell University, Centrify, Microsoft, MIT, Safe Mashups, and Sun Microsystems.
A bit of background…
For those of you that aren’t familiar with Kerberos, it is a network authentication protocol developed by MIT as part of a joint project with Digital Equipment Corporation and IBM designed to produce a campus wide distributed computing environment in 1983. Kerberos provides a mutual authentication system, and a high level of encryption, both designed to ensure network and data security. Kerberos was accepted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as a standard in 1993. Since its creation Kerberos has become the most widely deployed system for authentication and authorization in modern computing networks.
In September of 2007, MIT founded the MIT Kerberos Consortium to help establish Kerberos as the universal authentication platform for the world’s computer networks and many organizations joined since then (full list here). The consortium hopes that by opening up ongoing development of Kerberos to other interested parties, it will be possible to expand the scope of work being performed, enhance the evolution of Kerberos, and to help engage potential adopters. The MIT Kerberos has also a group on Facebook.
Microsoft’s collaborative efforts regarding MIT and the Kerberos Consortium are nothing new. Microsoft was one of the original sponsors, and is represented on the board of directors by Microsoft’s Director of Development Slava Kavsan. To help standardize the testing processes for Kerberos developers, Microsoft contributed the GSS Monger interoperability testing framework to the consortium. It is now available on Codeplex using MS_PL, as an ongoing open source project.
You may not know, but Microsoft has been using Kerberos as the default authentication package since Windows 2000. You may actually be using Kerberos authentication today in your solutions without even realizing it since it is part of negotiated authentication.
Back to the interoperability plug fest…
How does an interoperability plug fest like this work? Each participant prepares a desired test plan based on their own current projects and challenges, but beyond that the lab is very ad-hoc. All of the participants bring systems with their code/applications to the event; then everybody hooks up to the network and starts testing out scenarios against each other’s applications using MIT realms or Microsoft domains. This collaborative environment allows participants with different implementations of the same standard to test their interoperability in a real world environment, helping to identify and solve the road blocks that might otherwise cause them problems.
One of the scenarios for the plug fest consisted of MIT & Microsoft collaborating on testing efforts for their next release. MIT has developed an implementation of a new Kerberos RFC (jointly defined by MS/MIT, and the IETF standards body). Since it was the first implementation there were no other implementations to be tested against. So, the Microsoft team developed a second implementation for the event for validation/comparison/interoperability testing.
Cornell University came prepared with two scenarios to investigate. The network environment that both scenarios operate under consists of a mixed MIT realm with an Active Directory domain. This results in certain complications when it comes to integrating a Single Sign-on solution. The first of their scenarios was built around integrating CUWebAuth, the open source, Kerberos based, web authentication application they have built, with key IIS services that are connected to a central Active Directory. This integrates single sign-on for Microsoft applications such as Outlook Web Access with other campus web services that require a login. The second of their scenarios centered on integrating WebDav with the Kerberos based login across their network. Complicating matters, the systems used across this network are very diverse and heterogeneous, including desktops running Windows, Linux, and Mac. The Cornell University team has had trouble implementing Kerberos with WebDav on Windows machines that are not part of a domain. Initially, they were uncertain that support for the desired functionality was even possible for Windows based systems. The Microsoft developers attending the plug-fest were able to provide the necessary insights regarding how the problem could be solved on Windows Vista and higher machines.
Peter Bosanko of Cornell University had this to say about the event:
“At the KC Interop we worked side by side with an impressive group of Kerberos experts from MIT and Microsoft. This was extremely fortunate for us because our interoperability issues were all about tying together Microsoft systems with an MIT KDC. By the end of our first day we had already accomplished more than we expected to accomplish over the three day Interop.”
“At the KC Interop we worked side by side with an impressive group of Kerberos experts from MIT and Microsoft. This was extremely fortunate for us because our interoperability issues were all about tying together Microsoft systems with an MIT KDC. By the end of our first day we had already accomplished more than we expected to accomplish over the three day Interop.”
What’s in it for Microsoft and other participants?
Interoperability is a key pillar for the Kerberos team. Knowing that many customers are going to have a heterogeneous environment, ensuring that Microsoft’s implementation of Kerberos works with other implementations is considered a key to success. By getting all the people together at events like this gives developers an opportunity to really dig into how we work together in an efficient way, solving problems in real time. Also it allows us to see how our applications interoperate with all sorts of other systems and applications that we normally don’t get the opportunity to see. Finally, it allows us to help explore, expand on, and develop standards while learning from a diverse group of experts.
We were delighted to see the turnout for this event, and wanted to extend a thank you to the MIT Kerberos Consortium for putting this together, and to the Kerberos team here at Microsoft for sharing it with us. With any luck the collaborative efforts of the participants will enable the ongoing development work on the various Kerberos implementations to proceed unhindered.
[05/18- Update: this translator is highlighted in today's Document Interoperability Inititice (DII) event that just happened in London ]
The OpenXML Document Viewer project idea came from the discussions with the participants of the Document Interoperability Initiative (DII) workshops (in particular last year’s Cambridge event). The point was to find a way to simply be able to view Open XML files as HTML. Following up, Microsoft provided funding to start the Open XML Viewer project, an open source project developed by MindTree Limited. The first beta version was unveiled at the last DII in Brussels, giving a first peak of the viewer (see a demo here).
Today I’m excited to announce the version 1.0 of Open XML Document Viewer. It provides direct translation for Open XML Documents (.DOCX) to HTML, enabling access to the information in the Open XML format from any platform with a Web browser. The project, which already includes a plug-in for Firefox IE7 and IE8 and now also offers a plug-in for Opera, allows users to view Open XML documents (.DOCX) within the browser on Windows and Linux platforms without the need to install Microsoft Office or other productivity products. Check out the demo my colleague Jean-Christophe Cimetiere has recorded to see the Open XML Document Viewer in action from the end user perspective:
For more detail on the supported features go visit the project site http://www.openxmlviewer.com
In principle, the functionality of the viewer is simply to translate OpenXML files into HTML for direct consumption in a web browser.
Here’s a scenario (the sample document is attached):
· You have an Open XML document (.DOCX). Let’s view it in Office Word 2007 first:
· Then, let’s say you email this file to your friend who’s using OpenSUSE Linux. Your friend saves the document on the desktop and drags & drops it into the Opera browser:
· The Open XML Document Viewer kicks off and creates the HTML that’s displayed by the browser:
The experience is similar with Firefox on Linux and and with Internet Explorer 7/8, Firefox 3.0.x, and Opera 9.x on Windows:
Next let’s examine the high level architecture:
The core of the project is the Translation Engine that does most of the work, meaning opening the .DOCX document, reading, mapping and transforming to HTML. The Translation engine is exposed as a client side browser plug-in with support for Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer, and as a cross platform command line translator for use in server side applications.
The result is a translator that enables Open XML document (.DOCX) visibility within browser applications without the use of any of the usual office productivity or word processing applications, across multiple platforms and environments, as either a server side application or as a client side end user solution. Developers, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), Solutions Integrators & Mobile Solution providers can use these tools to enable their customers to view Open XML documents on heterogeneous platforms and browser applications. Be sure to check out the Demo web site. It showcases server side document processing scenarios that represent very typical use cases.
We’re very excited with this new version and look forward to your feedback.
Join us at http://www.codeplex.com/OpenXMLViewer
Sumit Chawla, Technical PM/Architect, Microsoft Interoperability Team
[05/18- Update: Apache POI project is highlighted in today's Document Interoperability Inititice (DII) event that just happened in London ]
When developers are tasked to deal with document file formats it might be challenging to do the right thing if you don’t have a good experience with a particular format, and need to crack it open and understand all the details.
For Java developers and Microsoft Office file formats there’s a very interesting solution with the Apache POI project, which provides a Java API to access Microsoft Office formats. Last year Microsoft and Sourcesence announced that they would collaborate to add support of the Open XML file format to the Apache POI project, and the resulting Open XML support has been integrated as part of POI 3.5 beta 5.
The end result: Good news for Java developers who need to manipulate the Office Open XML files (.XLSX, .DOCX, .PPTX), because it really makes it easier for them to do the job!
To illustrate the point, let me walk you through a demo scenario that uses Apache POI Java Libraries and actually combines it with the PHPExcel project (for PHP developers) and the Open XML Format SDK 2.0 (for .NET developers). My goal is just to give you a sense of the type of scenarios you can easily develop using multiple languages and multiple platforms.
We will make that demo available with more explanation in an article on http://openxmldeveloper.org/. Before we get into the demo itself I want to thank Julien Chable and Maarten Balliauw for their help in building this demo.
For now, let me walk you through the scenario. For the sake of our demonstration we are going to show how raw data can be consumed by a Java web application using the Apache POI, to create an .XLSX file from scratch. How that file can then be accessed and modified by a PHP application (with PHPExcel). And finally how the resulting file can be digitally signed and finalized via the .NET framework using the Open XML Format SDK.
Here’s the data flow:
Step 1 of the scenario starts in the Java Web applications:
Once the “Create Spreadsheet” button is pressed, it creates the files:
And does some processing to inject the initial XML data and formatting. The result looks like this:
Most of the Java code required to do this fits in this code snippet:
Step 2, moving to the PHP application, the UI is similar:
This step adds cell protection, renames the .XLSX file, changes cell formatting, and inserts additional content formatting. The result looks like this:
And the code to accomplish it looks like this:
Step 3, finally, from the ASP.NET web applications using the Open XML Format SDK:
Where the code for adding the digital signature looks like this:
Easy, don’t you think? Stay tuned, as I said earlier, we will follow up on http://openxmldeveloper.org/ with a more detailed article.
Additional background on PHPExcel and the Open XML SDK:
The PHPExcel project is an open source project available on Codeplex. It consists of a set of classes for PHP that enables PHP applications to read and write to various file formats. These formats include HTML, PDF, and the relevant one for our demonstration…Excel 2007’s .XLSX format. This class set supports features such as setting spreadsheet meta data (author, title, description ...), multiple worksheets, different fonts and font styles, cell borders, fills, gradients, and adding images to spreadsheets. In parallel to this project, there is also the sister project PHPPowerPoint, which is intended to operate along similar lines as the PHPExcel application but with a focus on the .PPTX file formats. Both of these projects are built around the OpenXML standard, and the PHP framework. Read this nice article: Use PHP to create Open XML Spreadsheet reports
The Open XML Format SDK provides methods for .NET developers to access and manipulate XML content, including XML data contained in OXML document formatted files. It provides strongly typed part classes to manipulate Open XML documents. The SDK also uses the .NET Framework Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) technology to provide strongly typed object access to the XML content inside the parts of Open XML documents. The April 2009 CTP release also adds support for the validation of Open XML documents.Read Brian Jones' blog to go deep on Open XML SDK.
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere - Sr. Technical Evangelist
I’ve just arrived at TechEd India where I’m going to talk about interoperability in my sessions “Build Mission Critical Applications on the Microsoft Platform Using Eclipse, Java & Ruby” and “Developing PHP Applications using Microsoft Software & Services”. In addition to presenting the on-going activities that Microsoft is driving to strengthen interoperability, I’m excited to be able to demo a new set of interoperability projects related to PHP. I’m going to give you a glimpse of these projects in this post for those that are unable to join us in India.
The first PHP interoperability bridge that we’re announcing is the PHP SDK for Windows Azure. This SDK is the result of an open source development project by RealDolmen, for which Microsoft is providing funding. I’d like to personally thank Maarten Balliauw of RealDolmen for his work on the project. The goal of the SDK is to provide high-level abstractions that enable PHP developers to interoperate readily with Windows Azure.
Keep in mind that the Azure Services Platform has been designed to be open, standards-based and interoperable.
The Azure Services Platform’s support for XML, REST and SOAP standards means that any of the Azure services can be called from other platforms and programming languages. To facilitate the interoperability between the Azure Services Platform and non-Microsoft languages and technologies, Microsoft has provided funding for two other SDK projects that support 3rd party programming languages: Java SDK for Microsoft .NET Services and Ruby SDK for Microsoft .NET Services
The PHP SDK for Windows Azure focuses on REST and provides the following core features:
Windows Azure is the foundation of the Azure Services Platform and it includes the services hosting environment for the platform. At MIX 2009, Microsoft announced the inclusion of FastCGI in Windows Azure’s hosting environment. The FastCGI protocol enables developers to run web applications on Windows Azure that were written using 3rd party programming languages including PHP. This opens up new options for PHP developers to deploy their applications. For example, in the context of the PHP SDK for Windows Azure you have the 2 following options for deploying your PHP web applications:
A Technology Preview of the PHP SDK for Windows Azure will be released by RealDolmen under a “BSD” license. This version of the SDK supports interoperability with Windows Azure blog storage. A functionally complete version of the SDK – additionally supporting tables and queues - is expected to be available from the download project site by the fall of 2009. Of course you're welcomed to try out and provide suggestions & feedback to the project by joining the user forum.
The second piece of announcement, I’m excited to make is the launch of a series of third party projects that offer samples and toolkit that enable PHP developers to easily include in their web applications the following Microsoft technologies:
Features for PHP developers
Embedding Silverlight in PHP
Include Silverlight controls in PHP web applications
Web Slices and Accelerators in PHP
Include IE Webslices & Accelerators in PHP web applications
SQL CRUD Application Wizard for PHP
Automatically generated a simple “Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD)” PHP application from a table in SQL Server
Virtual Earth Integration Kit for PHP
Include Microsoft Virtual Earth maps in PHP web applications
Microsoft is providing funding for a series of projects, of which this first batch have been developed by Accenture. The third party projects are available on Codeplex.com under a BSD license:
More to come; stay tuned and once again I encourage you to take a look. Feedback is very welcomed.
When Microsoft decided to participate in the Apache Stonehenge project our goal was to deliver guidance through practical applications that span languages and platforms and demonstrate how to achieve interoperability. As I mentioned a few months ago multiple implementations including .NET, Java, Php, Python & Ruby of the Stonehenge Stocktrader sample application have been committed to the repository (check the code here: http://svn.apache.org/viewvc/incubator/stonehenge/contrib/stocktrader/)
Since then we’ve been working and I’m glad to report that we’ve reached a key milestone: to deploy a first set of these samples and make them work together. The Stonehenge community is currently going through the final testing required for the “M1 release”, and it is taking votes on a release. From a simplified architecture point of view the Stonehenge Stocktrader application is built as follows:
So far we have been focusing on the .NET, PHP, and Java interoperability scenarios, and have deployed the three Stocktrader implementations in multiple configurations. If you want to reproduce the environment, you can get the installation and configuration steps for the .NET, PHP and Java versions at http://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/STONEHENGE/Index. The PHP and Java implementations were contributed by WSO2 using their Web Services Frameworks (http://wso2.org/projects).
Then we ran a series of tests mixing and matching the layers from the three implementations, playing with the configurations and leveraging the Web Services standards, including WS-Security, to provide message integrity and security.
In short (that’s only a partial view of the scenarios), the following diagram shows where we were able to achieve interoperability using Web Services (each arrow represents Web Service based dialog):
A detailed “interoperability walkthrough” explaining all the different configurations has been posted at http://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/STONEHENGE/Stonehenge+Interoperability+Walk-through
From the end user perspective whichever middle tier layer (Business Services or Order Processing) is activated during the scenario is completely transparent, since each of the implementations executes the same transactions. Even though the most interesting part of the interoperability walkthrough happens at the Web Services standard level, I wanted to give you a sense of how the scenario looks from multiple perspectives. In the following example, we are looking at the “Buy Stocks” transaction in both the .NET & PHP applications (the current Java version does not implement any UI):
Portfolio summary information
This new outcome from the Stonehenge project is very encouraging. With the implementation of the WS-* Standards, we get the benefit of distributed applications and platforms. We recognized that it is not always easy to achieve these goals, but I really feel this type of practical guidance will be helpful for these types of scenarios.
We’re very encouraged by the success of this first step, and we invite you to take a closer look to give comments and feedback. There are lots of roles for you to participate in the project, whether you are a developer or a user: developing code on your preferred platform, suggesting new scenarios and applications that will provide real value to people in your field, or even just looking over the code and documents to see if they address the challenges you might have had developing interoperable services.
We look forward to getting your comments and ideas about how to keep this project moving in a direction that meets real people’s needs.
In support of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to increase the interoperability of its various technologies, we have partnered with Dialogika to create a translator that converts the Microsoft Office binary file formats (.DOC, .XLS, and .PPT) into the Office Open XML standard format (.DOCX, .XLSX, .PPTX).
A majority of the world’s documents are available in the binary Office formats and, for developers working with these formats (including .DOC, .PPT, and .XLS.), Microsoft published the specifications under the Open Specification Promise (OSP) in June 2008.
A new version of the Binary to Open XML (B2X) Translator has just been released ; this version adds support for PowerPoint (.PPT) and Excel (.XLS) files:
Supported .XLS Features
Supported .PPT Features
(Detailed features http://b2xtranslator.sourceforge.net/architecture.html#mapping )
From an architectural point of view, the translator can be seen as a series of pipelines during which transformation steps are applied to translate from the binary to Open XML format:
(more details on http://b2xtranslator.sourceforge.net/architecture.html )
While it has been possible to manually convert documents between formats by opening the file in the relevant application and saving in the other format, before the release of the translator there was no software tool to automate this task as a stand-alone application, or in a batch mode.
So from the end-user point of view the translator offers two options:
While using Windows’ context menus to translate the files is self-explanatory (right-click, convert to…) doing so from the command line warrants a bit more study. The command line utility consists of three separate executables, one for each file type (ppt2x.exe for spreadsheet, doc2x.exe for document, and xls2x.exe for presentation). The executables use the same command line syntax, and support the usual basic command line options: This includes the input filename, output filename, and the level of debug verbosity. The resulting command is easy to include in automation scripts, and batch processes.
The command-line architecture allows the translators to be integrated into existing systems such as document management systems running on a server.
Using the source of B2X translator (ppt2x.exe, doc2x.exe, xls2x.exe), you can rebuilt them using the .NET Framework on Windows or Mono on Linux, thus ensuring portability across operating systems and platforms.
As an open source project, the Translator is a solid foundation for engineering work around the Office binary format. Dialogika’s development team has put together a few “how to” guides, including the Freeform Shapes in the Office Drawing Format guide, that helps to explain the specification and give some valuable tips. For developers and ISVs the code of this translator can be reused in their own applications enabling a wide range of document interoperability solutions.
We’re excited by this latest release making the translators more functional and addressing practical document conversion scenarios. Of course, there’s still work ahead of us! We are currently in the planning stage for the next version. In addition to the goals outlined above, it is very important to us that the translator adequately addresses practical user scenarios. To this end, we would love to hear feedback on this release as well as your feature requests for the next version. Please provide your feedback on the Sourceforge site.
Service Pack 2 for the 2007 Microsoft Office System that has just been released includes the ability to open, edit and save documents in version 1.1 of the Open Document Format. The Open XML / ODF translator on Sourceforge will continue to be the solution for Office 2003 and Office XP users who wish to Open & Save ODF documents.
The open source Translator project was started in July 2006, when Microsoft worked with partners (Clever Age, Dialogika & Sonata) to demonstrate pragmatic interoperability between Microsoft Office and Open Office documents. Today, after multiple releases of the project with more than 2.5 millions downloads, the translator is a mature project and version 3.0 was released in March 2009 (read the blog post).
Version 3.0 focuses on improving the overall fidelity of the translation between Open XML and ODF as well as the performance. The previous version (2.5) of the Translator introduced ODF compatible “Templates” intended to provide greater visual fidelity during the translation process:
Here’s a demo of the Translator created by my colleague Jean-Christophe Cimetiere with version 2.5, but from the end-user perspective version 3.0 is identical:
From a technical perspective, the translator consists of a set of XSL transformations between the two XML formats (Open XML and ODF), along with some pre- and post-processing to manage the packaging (zip / unzip), and some advanced processing (complex transformations). The following diagram is a high level architecture of the Translator:
The translation engine at the core of the Translator may be used independently and hosted by a back-office server application or incorporated into hosted services or batch processing. In the latter case, Translator includes a command line interface.
As an open source project, the Translator could be a great foundation for engineering work around document interoperability. ISVs can use the code as the basis for additional translators and programs and create a wide range of interoperability solutions that bridge Open XML and ODF. Novell has incorporated the translator into its implementation of OpenOffice for SUSE Linux, and others have taken the translator and integrated it into the Ubuntu Linux Open Office version.
The Open XML / ODF Translator project is hosted on Sourceforge, where you can get the installers (7 languages are supported) as well the source code: http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/
Well, it came as no surprise that interoperability was a big part of the discussion at MIX09… at the keynote, in the breakouts, on the blogs, on Twitter, etc. Of course interoperability is a key consideration any time that you talk about cloud computing. Let’s be clear: Interoperability between the services platforms, the identity providers, the mashable services, the social networks and so on is now an integral part of the landscape.
MIX is a very special annual conference where Microsoft attempts to bridge the worlds of technology, design, entrepreneurship and business. Zooming into technology, we could draw much more interrelated circles, but my point is not to give a holistic view. Instead, I’ve highlighted a few sessions for you that are going deep into interoperability scenarios.
I’ll start with Vijay Rajagopalan’s session “Build Applications on the Microsoft Platform Using Eclipse, Java, Ruby and PHP!” where he presented:
Speaking about Azure, from the moment we kicked off our cloud computing effort, openness and interoperability stood at the forefront, we spelled it out clearly with Azure (see http://www.microsoft.com/azure screenshot below), and we mean it as this post illustrates.
The next session I’d recommend is Shaun Hirschman & Michael Joffe’s “Running PHP on Microsoft Servers and Services: Windows + PHP, explore the possible”
As Michael states in the opening, everybody is aware that PHP runs on Windows, but you don’t necessarily know all the legwork the Microsoft has been doing to enhance PHP on Windows, as well as all the interoperability touch points between PHP and Microsoft’s technologies. So in this session you’ll get the big picture. In particular don’t miss these demos:
Finally, I invite you to check out John Shewchuk’s session A Lap around Microsoft .NET Services, where he is doing “something a little wacky” as he said!
John demonstrates interoperability scenarios with .NET Services (which is part of the overall Azure Services platform) combined with different languages and platforms. John’s demos show how to leverage the Access Control Service & the Service Bus, with an application built using Python+JQuery running on the GoogleApp engine and using Yahoo as the OpenId provider. These are great scenarios involving notifications and federated identity across firewalls boundaries and heterogeneous systems.
Further down the talk, I also really liked the Facebook (PHP)/CinemaMIX (ASP.NET) application allowing users to invite friends to share (view/edit) your Netflix video queue. That’s cloud interoperability in action
This is only a short selection of the sessions tackling Interoperability. There are many other interesting sessions to discover, so get lost at http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX09 and have fun!
One more step for the Eclipse Tools for Silverlight (Eclipse4SL) project: the Customer Technology Preview (CTP) of Eclipse4SL with support for Macintosh is being delivered at MIX09, Microsoft’s conference for Web developers, designers, business and digital marketing professionals. With this plug-in, Mac developers using Eclipse can develop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) using the Silverlight platform.
If you’re new to Eclipse4SL, here’s a quick recap: “The Eclipse tools for Silverlight project, aka eclipse4SL, is an Eclipse plug-in that enables developers to use the Eclipse IDE to create applications that run on the Microsoft Silverlight runtime platform. Announced in October of last year, the project is led by Soyatec, an IT solutions provider based in France & China, and also an Eclipse Foundation member (Yves Yang, Soyatec President). Microsoft provides funding and architectural guidance (in particular my colleagues Vijay Rajagopalan and Stève Sfartz)” (read the full introduction at Eclipse and Silverlight, another interoperability journey has begun)
The CTP not only enables support for the development experience on a Mac but it also includes many new features also available for the Windows version. To get the plug-in go to http://www.eclipse4sl.org/download/.
The demo is also posted on Youtube and MSN Video.
If you are attending MIX09, I encourage you to go to Vijay Rajagopalan’s session “Build Applications on the Microsoft Platform Using Eclipse, Java, Ruby and PHP!” (Friday, March 20, 10:45 AM-12:00 PM).
Vijay will give an overview of how Microsoft has delivered multiple technologies that focus on interoperability with non-Microsoft and open source technologies.
And of course he will also show the Eclipse Tools for Silverlight along with other interoperability scenarios, like combinations of Java, Ruby and PHP with the Azure Services Platform and the use of claims-based identity in support of heterogeneous identity systems.
Going back to the Eclipse4SL plug-in, let me share a few screenshots showing the new features:
Finally, while the Eclipse4SL plug-in brings Silverlight development capability to Eclipse, it also preserves the project structure to retain compatibility with other Microsoft tools (Visual Studio and Expression Blend) enabling collaboration between Eclipse developers (Java, PHP, etc…), .NET developers, and designers:
Finally, if you have feedback, join the conversation at http://www.eclipse4sl.org/community/
Jean-Christophe Cimetiere - Sr. Technical Evangelist
Silverlight is a cross-platform browser plug-in that enables rich media experiences and .NET-based Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) within the browser. While Microsoft creates developer and designers tools, interoperability scenarios using other tools makes sense simply because in many situations there are development teams working in heterogeneous environments. Searching for ways to assist these teams is how Eclipse tools for Silverlight came to life!
The Eclipse tools for Silverlight project, aka eclipse4SL, is an eclipse plug-in that enables Eclipse developers to use the Eclipse IDE to create applications that run on the Microsoft Silverlight runtime platform. Announced in October of last year, the project is led by Soyatec, an IT solutions provider based in France & China, and also an Eclipse Foundation member (Yves Yang, Soyatec President). Microsoft provides funding and architectural guidance (in particular my colleagues Vijay Rajagopalan and Stève Sfartz).
Since the release of a new beta version in December, additional technical content for Java developers has been published on the project site, giving guidance on key interoperability scenario sought by developers: facilitate interoperability between Silverlight clients and REST and SOAP (JAX-WS/CXF) Java web services.
Even though the V1 of the project is not yet complete, Soyatec has done a great job of building the early pieces of this bridge between Eclipse and Silverlight. The interoperability scenarios this project enables are very interesting, as it provides more choices to Java/Eclipse developers and opens up new opportunities for Silverlight adoption.
So if you haven’t had a chance to see the Eclipse tools for Silverlight in action, take a look at this demo. It gives an overview of the developer experience of creating a basic Silverlight application in Eclipse, shows how collaborating with a designer could work, and finally you’ll see a sample Silverlight application talking to a Java web service, from the www.Youtube.com/interopbydesign channel:
If you want to try it for yourself it’s very easy, just follow the step-by-step installation guide on http://www.eclipse4sl.org/download/. The eclipse4SL plug-in can be installed directly from the internet with the Eclipse software update wizard (see screenshot below):
Then you can explore the Hello, world and DataGrid tutorials that my colleague Stève Sfartz has prepared for you. Also you might want to check this tutorial that has just been posted on Devx: Getting Started with Silverlight for Eclipse.
I don’t write a lot of code these days, but from a developer point of view I think it is cool to deliver interoperability at this level, and to extend the Silverlight development experience to Eclipse developers. For a nascent project, the eclipse4SL has been well received by the community and is currently in the top 10 “Top Rated” on www.eclipseplugincentral.com (a portal that helps developers find Eclipse plug-ins):
(Screenshot taken on 02/03/2009)
Of course, if you have feedback, feel free to join the conversation.
Hi, my name is Jas Sandhu and I am an evangelist on the Microsoft Interoperability Strategy Team. I manage our overall Document Interoperability Initiative community outreach, working with Doug Mahugh and many others in the Office team.
On Friday we published Office 2007 SP2 implementation notes for the ECMA-376 1st Edition (aka Open XML).
I invite you to read Doug's post to get more details.
This new drop follows the publication of the ODF 1.1 implementation notes in December. The implementation notes site is http://www.documentinteropinitiative.org/.
This is also an opportunity for me to shed some light on the goals of the Document Interoperability Initiative, which -from the website - are:
We will use this blog to report what's going on regarding these goals and to report more broadly on document format interoperability.
Progress is being made on working together as a community and we are keen to foster such collaborative work. Implementer notes are incredibly useful, but to understand interoperability issues, sometimes it requires stepping back and discussing different approaches with others who save similar goals.
This is what we're doing with the DII workshops that we've been running around the world since last year. The most recent DII workshop took place in Brussels. Some of the organizations that participated include Fraunhofer, Dialogika, SourceSense, Wygwam, RealDolmen, Fedict, IRIS, Getronics, Ovum and Microsoft. You can find more here on the DII website and also on the blog of the some of the participants: Martin Balliauw, Julien Chable. Here's the Network World story about the event. We also produced a 5 minute recap that will give you a good overview of what happened:
I am a Principal Program Manager in Jean Paoli’s Interoperability Technical Strategy Team. Among other things, I am also the lead for Microsoft’s participation in the Apache incubator project, Stonehenge. I am really excited about Microsoft’s participation in this effort and look forward to our continued involvement with it.
As Jean discussed in his post, Microsoft has been working on many open source projects but this is the first time that Microsoft is participating as a code contributor in an Apache project! This has been a very valuable learning experience for us here at Microsoft that will significantly inform and influence many future projects, I am sure.
In November, I wrote on port25 about ApacheCon and the Stonehenge incubator project. Lots of activities have taken place since then around Stonehenge. It was approved as an incubator project within Apache Software Foundation, and WSO2 and Microsoft have already contributed code for a web-services based sample application (called StockTrader) to this effort. Our code can be found here, along with the contributions from WSO2.
We have three committers from Microsoft on the Stonehenge incubator project. Most of the credit must go to Greg Leake, who wrote the original StockTrader application, and Drew Baird, who worked to get it ready for contribution to Stonehenge. Mike Champion is also going to play an active role in this effort, as he mentioned in his recent blog where he describes how “Stonehenge can help wire up the "last mile…"
Projects like Stonehenge are very important to enhance interoperability between different software implementations. Standards organizations do a great job and the roll out of various WS-* standards is a testimonial to the fact that they can work efficiently. But interoperability work doesn’t stop at the end of the standardization process… in fact, that is where it really starts.
It is important for customers and the industry to have multiple implementations of these standards and have the ability to choose the best ones for their scenarios and requirements. This will encourage competition and ensure the production of better quality software in response to market forces. Interoperability work within an open community generates both competition and collaboration. Customers will be able to get working code on multiple platforms and vendors will be able to catch bugs and test interoperability issues in an open manner.
Stonehenge has attracted some very prominent committers so far and I hope that the momentum will be sustained. I am looking forward to seeing code contributions from other folks and seeing the StockTrader sample application enhanced with new features. I also hope that new sample applications will be developed to cover other areas of the WS-* standards that are not best represented by the StockTrader application. I look forward to participating in this discussion with the Stonehenge community.
I also want to thank the folks at WSO2 inc. for their leadership and guidance in driving the Stonehenge project. Congratulations are due to Paul Fremantle, Sanjiva Weeravaran, Jonathan Marsh and their dev team for successfully launching and steering this project so far. We are happy to follow and work with other participants in making it successful.
I would like to hear comments and feedback on the Stonehenge project and also discuss ideas around other interoperability projects of similar nature. Looking forward to the conversation!
I am the General Manager of Interoperability Strategy at Microsoft, and I have been working across the company on many interoperability initiatives. It makes me happy to see so many interoperability projects coming out of Microsoft and, personally, having many of them based on XML makes me doubly happy. So I thought it was the right time to open this blog with the purpose of sharing with you activities that relate to interoperability at Microsoft and to start generating ongoing discussions. Here we will write about interoperability scenarios, the technologies enabling them, and important issues concerning the industry at large.
We recognize that we need to work more at engaging with the community in an open way on interoperability. This means being certain to listen to the community and to have open discussions with you in this blog about interoperability scenarios and technologies.
Interoperability has been a long-time focus area at Microsoft. Being a platform company, Microsoft has engaged in interoperability at many levels: product features, participation in standardization bodies, publishing technologies under open licenses, and working closely with customers, governments and partners to understand the heterogeneous IT landscape and to discuss practical interoperability solutions. These activities were formalized under the Interoperability Principles earlier this year.
My team has built several technical bridges and solutions for various products to enable interoperability with other platforms and applications. These are being run as open source projects and released under a broad BSD license, or other licenses such as MS-PL or Apache, so that our customers and partners can use them in many open and broad reaching scenarios. We have been working with many other teams at Microsoft and with both our customers and the community to develop these projects. We also run interoperability labs and plug-fests to test how Microsoft and Non-Microsoft products interoperate.
Many members of Microsoft, as well as members of my team, such as Vijay Rajagopalan, Sumit Chawla, Kamaljit Bath, Claudio Caldato, and Jean-Christophe Cimetiere will be posting on this blog, I would like to hear your comments and feedback and also welcome open engagement on what Microsoft should be doing for interoperability. I would also like to take this chance to thank the many third party companies and community members who have collaborated with us in our efforts to improve and expand the interoperability of Microsoft technologies, platforms and applications.
Jean Paoli General Manager of Interoperability Strategy