Had a meeting at work today with QBT and Corillian about the future of our enterprise applications. The meeting was very illuminating, but I'm not going to talk about it.
Instead, I'm going to talk about how I got to meet Corillian's CTO, Chris Brooks, who is also a blogger. He is an amazing CTO who seems to be as comfortable with code as he is with business. He took everyone at the meeting on a whirlwind journey into Microsoft's .NET framework as it relates to Web Services. I had not investigated Web Services past the SOAP stage and my XML knowledge had stopped at the DTD level because schemas were just coming on to the scene. Schemas were then thought to be a Microsoft-only implementation and so I wasn't interested one bit.
They've come a long way, baby! Schemas are now all about interop (at least the non-Microsoft ones are) and they're quite robust. He showed how easy it was to take a schema, run it through Microsoft's xsd.exe, and come out with a C# data object. I'm sure that the open-source community hasn't let Microsoft innovate in a vacuum, so I'll be looking for equivalents in the open-source world. Visual Studio.NET looks like it makes it easy to generate WSDL and consume it readily. My head was spinning towards the end because of the possibilities.
The eureka moment for me was when he showed how your C# code need never traverse a DOM to use the XML because of the facile serialization of the XML messages into objects. Wow! XML becomes the data transport, allowing rich data to be conveyed without loss or difficulty. I hope it doesn't come with any significant costs in performance, but Chris assured me that it didn't.
The best part of the meeting occurred immediately afterwards when Chris told me that he'd be happy to answer any questions I had about .NET or Web Services any time. Well, or his Chief Architect Scott Hanselman. I will assuredly take him up on his generous offer.