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Microsoft Takes Wraps Off VSA Development Technology

Microsoft offered a preview today of a new technology to make it easier for developers to customize corporate and ISV Web applications without knowing anything about the underlying source code.

The technology, called Visual Studio for Applications (VSA), made its debut as a technology preview at a developers conference today in San Francisco. Microsoft positions VSA as fitting within its .NET Framework for developing applications on the Web.

“Today there are no easy ways to customize business logic on the Web,” says Robert Green, Microsoft’s lead product manager for Visual Studio. “That’s what Visual Studio for Applications provides,” Green claims.

What VSA would allow is business rule customization after an application, either homegrown or packaged, has been set up.

For example, a company running an off-the-shelf sales force automation solution might decide to create a discount program for its top 10 customers, Green says.

If the ISV VSA-enabled its application, a programmer at the company could use VSA to select the appropriate object and event and write the new business rule in Visual Basic without any input from the ISV or any understanding of the source code.

Microsoft plans a widespread beta for the tool in the spring when Visual Studio.NET enters the Beta 2 testing phase. VSA is expected to ship at the same time as Visual Studio.NET, which is currently scheduled for a second half release.

The initial version of VSA will support Visual Basic.NET, the next version of the widespread Visual Basic language. Subsequent versions are supposed to support customization code written in other Microsoft languages such as C# and common third-party developer languages supported by the .NET Framework including COBOL, Fortran and Perl.

ISVs and other developers interested in an early look at VSA can contact Summit Software Co., Microsoft’s sales agent for VSA, at vsainfo@summsoft.com. --  Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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