Build a managed compiler in less than an hour

Very much enjoyed Joe Duffy and Joel Pobar’s session on “Build a compiler for managed code in less than an hour.” Basically, they stepped through the classic compiler stages (scanner, parser, code gen), but then went into how, in the .NET world, the System.Reflection.Emit libraries work. It might have been a little too ambitious in scope – if you carefully go over “what a scanner is,” then you might not even mention type coercion or autoboxing half-an-hour later. But it was a very well-attended session, they had good energy, and I think it was probably really good for many, many people. Heck, I’ve never seen all the .NET pieces in a single, easy-to-digest place before.


WPF/E: Avalon graphics on devices?

WPF/E was also shown at the PDC. This is a XAML + JavaScript (!) solution for delivering Avalon-like graphics on devices. I’m scanning the catalog to see if there are classes available on this, which seems like a startlingly odd combination of technologies.


200 million PCs per year are shipped

According to Bill Gates, 200 million PCs were shipped last year (are going to be shipped this year?). +12% growth. This builds into the point that in the few years after Vista ships, 500 million PCs will be purchases, 200 million of which will be “capable of being upgraded to Vista .” (Note they didn’t lay down an estimate as to what % will ship with Vista installed.)


Superfetch will use flash drives as virtual memory

Superfetch is Vista ’s an enhancement to the virtual memory manager that handles the swapping of application RAM in and off the disk. Superfetch looks like a good idea, it basically seems to look at usage patterns over time and use this knowledge to pre-cache the most commonly-used DLLs. A surprising part of the demo was when Jim Allchin plugged in a flashdrive, which became usable as virtual memory! Is flash memory over the USB bus really faster than disk access or was that just an attention-getter?


Office 12 reactions

Microsoft showed Office 12 for the first time in public during the keynotes. The most obvious thing is that they’ve gotten rid of dropdown menus; choosing a high-level menu now puts a taskbar in a tabbed interface (I think is how it works – it was difficult to comprehend). No sign of ink, as a matter of fact, the only sign was that the “ink comments” button in Word is still there, hinting that there’s not any further suport.


Outlook will have built-in support for RSS reading, including synchronizing content for offline viewing (additionally, of course, in Vista there will be a unified RSS store). Outlook will automatically preview attached files – let’s see how long that lasts before some hacker figures out how to use it as a route towards hacking the system!



Touch-Screen Tablets

Hilton Locke has revealed that Microsoft is okaying OEM’s to ship Windows XP Tablet PC Edition with touch-screens rather than active digitizers. (Not that active digitizers will die, not that active digitizers aren’t infinitely better than touch-screens, but touch-screens are cheaper.)