Microsoft Oslo: a tool, a language, a repository

A couple of Microsofties are talking up the Oslo launch at the forthcoming PDC. “Oslo” is what Microsoft sees as the next generation of software development – I think.

Don Box and Douglas Purdy have just posted their own definitions. They should know, they’re working on it.

Box says:

With Oslo, we’re doing two things:

1. We’re making it easier for people to write things down in ways that make sense for the domain they are working in – the common term for this in the wild is modeling.

2. We’re making the things people wrote down accessible to platform components during program execution.


we have boiled down Oslo to three very simple things:

  • A tool that helps people define and interact with models in a rich and visual manner
  • A language that helps people create and use textual domain-specific languages and data models
  • A relational repository that makes models available to both tools and platform components

There will be a CTP for us all to try at PDC.

The last time the industry tried this I believe it was called UML 2.0; it excited a lot of theoreticians but made little impact on real-world application development. I’m sceptical about Oslo too; but let’s acknowledge at least that the goal is a worthy one.

Having said that, what do you think about this remark from Purdy:

For me personally, Oslo is the first step in my vision “to make everyone a programmer (even if they don’t know it)”.

I’m sorry, that “everyone a programmer” line brings to mind spaghetti-macros in Excel or some of those unmaintainable Access and Visual Basic applications which you still see sometimes if you hang around small businesses.

Still, there is a costly divide in development, which is to do with the fact that A is an expert is some particular field, B is a programmer; and somehow A’s expertise has to be expressed in B’s code. I think this is about bridging that gap.

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