Flying back from the recent Visual Studio .NET launch gave us time to reflect on the state of our industry. It's been a tough couple of years, we all know it. A lot of people have been struggling to get by, waiting for things to pick up again. When we departed for San Francisco and the launch event, we felt somewhat unsure how Visual Studio .NET would be received at the show, and what the future would bring to the industry.
It only took a couple of hours on the show floor for us to come away thinking that things were on the way up for real. There's more excitement around .NET than we've seen since the advent of Win32 back in the early 1990s. We're not going to sit here and tell you that it changes the way that you think about the world. Maybe it's the Kool-Aid they offered during breaks at the show, but we firmly believe that Feb. 13, 2002 was the first day of a long-term upswing in the fortunes of programming concerns everywhere. There's so much you can do with .NET, and so many opportunities to come, that we expect to see a robust third-party solutions industry spring up in the next year. Now that larger companies that "only work with released products" are looking at it, adoption rates will take off pretty quickly.
There are several measures we use to tell whether a product will be a hit in the real world. One is the existence of independent user groups. One of the great things about following the arc of ASP over the past few years has been watching dedicated communities spring up to meet the interest levels that the product was generating. When we first heard about ASP.NET, we worried that it would short-circuit some of these efforts. On the contrary, .NET has spawned even more groups, all dedicated to common goals. And why not? We've never heard from anyone who hates .NET and wishes they could just go back to the old days of fishing out API headers from a massive Win32 programming guide. This is why .NET is here to stay, and third-party excitement is palpably real.
Speaking of here to stay, you might recall that some months ago, we asked readers to come up with a new name for George Shepherd's ASP column. Well, as we've documented, we got a lot of suggestions. After careful deliberation back here at the office, we realized that none of them quite worked. Even the best names—ones like "Response.Write"—had the problem of not explaining what the column was about when you saw its title (if you didn't already know). So we're pleased to announce that we're ditching the whole idea and just calling it "The ASP Column" after all. We'll select someone at random from our folder of everyone who replied to us and send them the mug and T-shirt.
And speaking of mug and T-shirt, we're revamping our Web site with some new features that will make your surfing easier. We've set up a new index for each current column in MSDN Magazine at http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/columns/default.asp. Astute subscription holders may remember that many of our columns predate the magazine, so this index will do the same, stretching back to the glory days of MIND and MSJ (1996). Now, when your boss runs in and shouts, "Jenkins! I suddenly need a list of all Matt Pietrek's excellent Under the Hood columns," you can simply go to the Column Archive page and click the Under the Hood link. Almost instantly, Matt's life flashes before your eyes.
But that's not all we've added to the site! Since its quiet launch, one of our most popular Web-side features has been the .NET Article Index. Sure, there's lots of .NET interest out there, but we haven't forgotten that there are other areas of interest to our readers—things like Visual Basic, data, Windows CE, and ASP. In response to reader inquiries, we've designed an all-new search by keyword on our site (http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/find.asp). Now, when your boss runs in and shouts, "Jenkins! I suddenly need lots of information on Windows CE programming," you can just go to the MSDN Magazine Article Index page, and type in the keyword "CE." Within seconds, a complete list of articles is in your palms...er...hand-shaped appendages.
If you're like us, you read the magazine from back to front. This is reflected in the lack of care we give these Editor's Notes. (We're going to press in an hour! Who can write 800 words without a profanity?) If you do read from the back, you may have noticed a new feature, Resource File, on the back page. Each month we'll be using it to update you on some of the latest offerings from MSDN and beyond. There's lots of new stuff coming out to help you take advantage of .NET this year—everything from training courses to Microsoft Press books. This is one way we're helping our readers get all the information they need to succeed today.