Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Data Dude" Licensing changed; better development environments for all

One way or another, I've been fighting the lack of integration between "backend" and middle-tier (or client-tier) development environments for decades now. 

About a year ago, I was fairly thrilled with the introduction of the "Database Edition" of Visual Studio, A/K/A "Data Dude". I was immediately disappointed by the restrictive licensing and the cost. I've been using Data Dude tools for nearly a year. I think that they can be an abolute boon for developers of new applications or ones that are in "maintenance mode". Unfortunately, any discussion of Data Dude always involves it's cost.


It often seems like the cost of everything in the computing universe drops except for bandwidth and Microsoft products. It wasn't always this way.


Some of my earliest professional IT work involved writing programs with QuickBasic 3.0 (and, later, with Microsoft BASIC using the "Professional Development System" A/K/A "PDS Version 7.0). I taught myself C using QuickC and a Microsoft Press book. (I still remember getting my first linked list to work, back in 1990.) All of this software was rather inexpensive. I think that QB was around $50. Even PDS, with the serious, "grown up" compiler, was only a few hundred dollars, IIRC. The pricing of many of the Visual Studio SKUs make a few hundred look like "free" and, unlike c# or vb.net, there is no Express Edition of Visual Studio for Databases.


Sure, Visual Studio is much more feature-packed than those old products. But "cheap" is what drives technology into every nook and cranny of the world, not "fancy". "Cheap" is what allows people to experiment with new things. If the cost of an experiment is low, people are much more likely to try it and the payback for a successful experiment is multiplied. If powershell wasn't a free add-on, I probably would either be fiddling with bash, ruby or python. Lots of smart people use python.


When I got to the office this morning, I was delighted to see the change in licensing that allows all developers to start using "Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition" along with "Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition". To me, this is almost better than the release of SQL Server 2008. I wish that Microsoft would have done this with Visual Studio 2005. Letting this go until Visual Studio 2010 was released would only produce another two years of unnecessarily sub par applications.


It's my hope that this change in licensing will lead to wider adoption and better applications. "Better" being cheaper-to-build, more-efficient-to-run and more-reliable-to-use.

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