I've seen the future...

Software pioneer Dan Bricklin, inventor of the first spreadsheet software (VisiCalc) says that when he would demonstrate the software to accountants back in the day they would start shaking– “That’s what I do all week! I could do it… in an HOUR!” and then shove their credit cards in his face.

Well, that was my reaction to a demo of ASP.NET 2.0 (Codename: Whidbey) by Microsoft Program Manager Susan Chory. (This was a great demo– she was funny, extremely knowledgable, and a good sport when the crowd asked dumb questions.) Great demo or not, this looks to be excellent technology that does an eerily good job of nailing market requirements.

Seriously– this is a really big update. The area that excited me most was the notion of the “Building Block APIs” for things like membership, personalization, database caching, site management, etc. These are going to cut the amount of time spent building the basic foundation of many web applications from weeks to hours… and if the work they’ve done in terms of server controls for the login stuff is any indication, they are really serious about building tools that make your job easier without sacrificing flexibility. This is good stuff, folks.

One of the developers who was attending the event crystalized what I was thinking perfectly when he said to the presenter “Thanks for making my life suck for the next 6 months.” He’s exactly right– it’s going to be hard for me to write ColdFusion or ASP.NET 1.1 applications knowing how much time I’m wasting compared to what the same functionality would take to build in ASP.NET 2.0.