Last week in Los Angeles (Sept13-16), Microsoft hosted PDC05… the11th Professional Developers Conference. The PDC is a conference to educate, inform and excite the developer community about the future of the Microsoft platform.  The conference was sold out, but there are still a number of sites where you can go to learn about what went on:

You can watch the opening keynotes on Tuesday, 9/13 hereYou can also see the rest of the show and view PDC presentations, newsgroups, videos, on MSDN and Channel 9. Finally, you can follow PDC blogs at http://pdcbloggers.net;

Additional future-facing sites to watch include the following:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic/future/: This page describes the future directions of VB and LINQ.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic/pdc05/: This site is a complete online version of the VB PDC 05 Resource CD that was handed out at the conference.  Besides combining all of the new PDC related material the CD also has a large section devoted to Visual Basic 2005 and VB 6.0 migration. 

Now for a little more content....  Here's a description, from our Corporate VP S. Somasegar, of some of the Developer Division technologies that were announced – Language Integrated Query (LINQ), “codename Atlas” and Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA).

"LINQ is an extensible set of language extensions currently available for Visual C# and Visual Basic.NET.  LINQ enables developers to query objects, databases and XML using a unified programming model because LINQ makes data transforms and queries first class NET citizens.  Historically, programming and data have been two different islands. The development of data-enabled applications has presented developers with multiple challenges in the past decade.  Developers have been asked to master multiple languages to build enterprise scale data-enabled applications.  With Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, specifically the integration of CLR into SQL, we took a first big step towards bridging these two worlds and empowered developers to easily build data-enabled applications.  There are still some key challenges primarily related to the semantic differences between the programming world and the data world.  I recently heard one of our RDs (Regional Directors) use a nice metaphor to describe the situation – “This is like using one language to order the drinks and another to order the main dinner”.  LINQ is going to move us ahead significantly in terms of bringing programming and data together.  

Atlas is a next generation Ajax framework for building rich web experiences in any browser, on any platform.  If you have used web applications like MSN Virtual Earth, Google Maps, Flickr or Outlook Web Access, you have experienced dynamic web applications that use AJAX – a web development technique that uses a combination of technologies like XHTML, CSS and XMLHttpRequest.  All of the pieces of AJAX -- DHTML, JScript, and XMLHTTP – have been available in Internet Explorer for some time.  ASP.NET 2.0 makes it much easier to write AJAX-style applications for any browser using asynchronous callbacks.  The ASP.NET team is working even further with Atlas to make it significantly easy for anyone to build even richer AJAX-style web applications to deliver rich, interactive, and personalized experiences.  Developers starting this week can go to http://atlas.asp.net and download an Atlas SDK and get started building these apps today.

Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA) is a .NET-based application customization technology designed to be embedded into applications to enable developers to create custom experiences on top of those applications.  It offers a full-featured interactive development environment (IDE), design-time, runtime and supports both VB.Net and C#.  This means that partners, typically ISVs, can license the VSTA engine and integrate it into their applications so that their customers can customize their applications using .NET programming techniques.  VSTA notably offers a significantly advanced environment for application customization and extensibility and is the result of over five years of effort and broad industry feedback."