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Erich Gamma (Eclipse) joins Microsoft to work on JavaScript tools

06.16.2011
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If you have ever read the “Gang of Four” book on design patterns [1] or worked with the Eclipse Java IDE (and platform) then you are probably familiar with the name Erich Gamma who was deeply involved in both. Recent news was that Gamma had left IBM and stopped working on Eclipse [4]. Now Microsoft announces that he will join them [source: Heise via Ludwig Adam]. Quote:
[Erich Gamma] was one of the key technical leads of the Eclipse project and he has lead the Eclipse Java Development tools. [...]

Erich will continue to live and work out of Zurich, Switzerland where we will be opening a small Visual Studio development lab with Erich as the lead.

Now the big question is: what language will those tools be implemented in and what language will they be implemented for? Quoting from one of the job descriptions:
  • The Visual Studio Zurich Lab [...] will be focused on [...] next generation tools and experiences for developers focused on cloud and browser applications.
  • This is a great job for someone who is eager to apply the latest web development technologies to create a new generation of development tools.
  • Key Responsibilities: [...] Support to grow a user community around the new set of tools.
  • Job Requirements include: [...] Familiarity with JavaScript and web client programming preferred.
This all suggests that the tools will be both programmed in, and apply to, JavaScript. With Visual Studio, one would expect extensions to be written in C++ and based on COM. But apparently that won’t be the case. However, JScript running on the CLR would not contradict the quotes above.

Things really have changed at Microsoft, starting with them shifting their focus on the web from Silverlight to HTML5 [2], continuing with new Windows 8 apps being written in JavaScript [3] (though other ways may follow).

Related reading:

  1. Design Patterns” [amazon.com] by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides.
  2. Microsoft: Our strategy with Silverlight has shifted
  3. Windows 8: Microsoft restarts its operating system efforts (an analysis)
  4. Dr. Erich Gamma muss seinen Vortrag leider absagen « Architecture Day

From http://www.2ality.com/2011/06/erich-gamma-microsoft.html

Published at DZone with permission of Axel Rauschmayer, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Mark Unknown replied on Thu, 2011/06/16 - 11:53am

Wonder if he actually used Visual Studio before making the decision?

Ian Skerrett replied on Thu, 2011/06/16 - 12:25pm

> Recent news was that Gamma had left the Eclipse Foundation. Erich never worked for the Eclipse Foundation and hasn't actively worked on Eclipse projects for the last couple of years. Erich was working at IBM. Ian Skerrett Eclipse Foundation

Honey Monster replied on Thu, 2011/06/16 - 6:33pm

Please, can we lay of the "dropped Silverlight" contention already? Microsoft made *no* such comment. Reckless speculation has embellished on the refusal of a Microsoft employee to comment on the technology and roadmap of another team. It is all fueled by Microsoft detractors eager so see a controversy in a unholy alliance with reckless click-baiting bloggers.

Microsofts announcement about Windows 8 and "tiles" was that HTML5 and JavaScript was going to be the preferred way to develop the *tiles*. The tiles! Which makes a lot of sense if you have actually been following MS work on webslices and pinned sites with IE9. The reason why HTML5 and JavaScript will be the preferred way to create tiles is that Microsoft want to make it dead easy for websites to mark up a section (think webslices) and use that as a tile for that website. This is integrating the web and the OS even further and gets rid of the silos that is the current app craze. Microsoft is coming late to mobile and even though their marketplace is the fastest growing atm, they are lagging behind in numbers and (more importantly) mind share. Allowing websites to appear front on users' desktops with their own tile with a minimum of effort may just be the break MS needs.

Silverlight is still at the center of Microsofts mobile strategy. Silverlight and C#/.NET still does a lot of stuff easier and better than HTML5+Javascript. Just think asynchronous/parallelism, LINQ etc. For a lot of applications SL will be what MS pushes. That said, expect MS to allow websites to integrate with Windows 8 also without SL.

I am a big fan of GoF. I am looking forward to see what will come out of Erics tour at Microsoft.

Axel Rauschmayer replied on Thu, 2011/06/16 - 9:57pm in response to: Ian Skerrett

True. Fixed.

Axel Rauschmayer replied on Thu, 2011/06/16 - 10:08pm in response to: Honey Monster

I edited the text a bit for clarity. The information I have on Windows 8 is that indeed new (complete) *apps* will be written in JavaScript. Additional APIs are rumored but not yet confirmed (to my knowledge). If you have other information, I’d love to know about it!

The CLR is indeed nice technology and C# has many language features that have no match in JavaScript. But JavaScript (ECMAScript.next is shaping up to be awesome) and HTML5 are evolving very quickly. We’ll see what happens. I think Microsoft’s new focus on the web is clever, because neither Apple (which relies on Cocoa apps) nor Google (it is doubtful that Chrome OS will ever become very popular) can match this step. It’s the first time after many years that I’m excited about MS technology again.

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