July, 2009

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    July CTP of PHP SDK for Windows Azure Released and support in Zend Framework


    [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:

    • Submission of PHP SDK for Windows Azure to Zend Framework
    • Feature completion of Windows Azure Table Storage APIs in PHP

    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

    • Compile time type checking when using the ADO .NET Data Services client library.
    • A rich set of data types for property values.
    • Support for unlimited number of tables and entities, with no limit on the table size.
    • Strong consistency for single entity transactions.
    • Optimistic concurrency for updates and deletes.


    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:

    • SharedKey Lite authentication (for local table storage service from SDK)
    • Query, Create, Delete & Update Tables - Enumerates the tables in a storage account.
    • Query, Create, Delete & Update Entities - Queries data in a table.
    • Batch Transactions

    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

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    Interoperability Award Winners at Imagine Cup 2009


    Imagine Cup Interop award 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 ALB_1474_webstarted 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 CIMG0229about 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 …CIMG0311

    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

    CIMG0308  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 whichCIMG0312 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

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Second place FteamS from Poland

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Third place: ECRAM from Jordan

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    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

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    Webcast “Connecting PHP to Microsoft Technologies”


    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)

    sponsort 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:

    phparchmag 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.


    Jean-Christophe Cimetiere - Sr. Technical Evangelist

  • Interoperability @ Microsoft

    A busy OSCON for Microsoft on Interoperability and open source



    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

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