Microsoft releases programming tool betas

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday released updated beta versions of its programming tools for building Web services and workflow-enabled applications on Windows.

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) is a framework that aids developers in creating next-generation Web services; Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) is a workflow engine, programming model and set of tools for building workflow-enabled applications.

The tools are part of the upcoming Windows Vista operating system's WinFX programming framework, an object-oriented, managed API that works with Microsoft's .Net programming platform and replaces the Win32 AP.

Slated for final release later this year, these 'Go Live' releases of WCF and WWF have been through additional reliability testing for developers who want to deploy applications now, said Ari Bixhorn, director of Web services strategy for Microsoft. 'We want developers to really kick the tires,' he said.

Bixhorn noted that Microsoft is using these parts of WinFX internally to build upcoming versions of Sharepoint and BizTalk Server.

Mark Emerson, a lead systems architect at St. Louis-based Emerson Process Management Inc., said his company has been using WCF for a year and a half to help write code that controls the industrial machinery it sells.