Now that VB 2005 Beta 1 has shipped, the time has come to start doing some “long lead” work on versions beyond the 2005 release. What this means is that while 98% of the team remains focused full-time on finishing the current product, a few people get to start spending some of (though hardly all of) their time thinking about the kinds of big issues that we might want to solve in the next version(s). A good way of thinking about it is that before a version ships we try to lay some of the groundwork for the next release so that when the rest of the team is ready to engage on the next version down the road, we can hit the ground running. (Other teams are also starting to do some of this work, too.)
At the moment, I’m spending my long lead time thinking about two major things. One is: what can we learn from scripting languages? We sort of discussed this back in March, and now I’m returning to the question, both in terms of the question of development environment and in terms of the question of dynamism. (Which is also interesting given that the CLR hired a scripting language implementer specificially to work on making the CLR better for dynamic languages.) The other is: what can we do to improve data access? This is something that other languages are thinking about as well. My interest stems not just from the fact that people find it difficult at times, but from the fact that my first job at Microsoft involved working a lot with SQL and data access (I worked on the query designer in Access) and I’d like to see us improve in that area.
Those are just the two things that I’ve started with, but there’s certainly room for other things as well. What other things would you like to see? I’m not talking about features (you can go submit those requests here and the product teams will see them), I’m talking about big picture areas like the ones I mentioned above. What areas do you think we could do better in? What areas do you think there is untapped potential? Can’t promise I’ll look at everything, but I’m curious to see what people might be thinking.
(Since we MSFT bloggers often get dinged for talking only about the future and never about the present, I should add the disclaimer that I don’t plan on talking too much about this long lead work for the forseeable future. This blog is still going to properly remain focused on VB 2003 and VB 2005, not on random ideas about the future that may or may not ever come to fruition. There’s been way too much of that at Microsoft in the past.)