Chris Sells takes Oslo to Portland

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The other night Chris Sells gave a cool talk on Oslo for the Portland Area .NET User's Group. His recent podcast interview on .NET Rocks was fascinating, in an abstract, intellectual sort of way, but I never grasped what this Oslo thing was actually for. I hoped attending his presentation would help me grok this stuff better. But to me, Oslo still looks like a hammer in search of a nail.

When I first heard of Oslo I couldn't keep the phrase "architecture astronaut" out of my head. It sounds like an interesting concept, maybe even a useful platform, but what's the killer app? What, specifically, can I do with this that makes me ten times more productive? I think I'd find it most useful for creating domain-specific languages. He demonstrated how easy it is to define a grammar, create a parser, and generate abstract syntax trees that you can process in C#. This would save a lot of time in creating "little languages" but it feels like the proverbial howitzer vs. mosquito.

Here's what I want to know: Is Oslo meant primarily for developers or business people? Is it about helping programmers and business people communicate? Is it hoping to evolve into a grand, unified theory of languages and data?

I'm going to give the Oslo guys the benefit of the doubt for a while. Too many people love to take a cursory look at everything new coming out of Redmond and declare it a big steaming pile. Sometimes they're right (Vista anyone?) but they often look like fools later. My very first reaction to .NET was "this is just a cheap clone of Java" and I couldn't have been more wrong.

Truly game-changing advancements always look crazy at first. My gut tells me they're onto something important.

3 comments:

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

I need to find the "Edit" link next time...

If Oslo is anything like Vista, it will have a rocky start then, after about a year, it will be rock solid and better than its predecessor. However, I won't even pretend to know what Oslo is or how it works.

Vern Eastley said...

Ryan, my example of Vista was poorly chosen. Leading up to Vista's release I was really excited about the improvements to the kernel, the new aero glass, etc. I chose to stick with XP due to the driver nightmare others were having with my bleeding-edge NVIDIA card.

But I think Vista mostly choked by catering to the big media and corporate players and totally losing sight of what individual people actually care about. Call me a sucker, but I'm very excited about Windows 7 because, from what I've heard, they're doing a lot of cool things to improve MY experience, ie stealing more great concepts from OS X. ;-)

I downloaded the Windows 7 beta last night, and I can't wait to install it... in Virtual PC. I may be adventurous but I'm usually not outright insane.

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