Just Released: GAT and GAX, February 2007 CTP
After a false start a couple of weeks ago (when it was still February), we're pleased to announce that we've finally released the February 2007 CTP of the Guidance Automation Toolkit and the Guidance Automation Extensions. These technologies are increasingly important to patterns & practices, and to many of you, since they form the foundation runtime and authoring platform for our software factories. You can download the new releases of GAT and GAX from here. But first, here's what you need to know.
What's New in this Release?
The February 2007 CTP is a minor maintenance release over the previous June 2006 CTP - internally we are calling this our 1.2 release. While it does not contain any brand new features, we have fixed quite a number of bugs that many of you wil have experienced. The full list of fixes is included in the release notes, and copied here for your convenience, but the key fixes are:
- Support for Windows Vista
- Guidance Navigator performance and display improvements
- Handling of read-only .gpstate files
- Use of standard system colors in wizards and dialogs
- Fixes to registration recipes
Do I need to upgrade?
If you're happily using the June 2006 CTP without any major issues, there is no need to upgrade immediately since there are no critical fixes in the new release. However all of the small fixes do add up to a considerably better experience, so upgrading is definitely recommended. If you are using Windows Vista, you should definitely get the new release since there are a number of known issues with the previous release under Vista.
How do I upgrade?
Now for some bad news - if you already have an older release of GAX and want to upgrade to the new version, you'll need to uninstall or unregister all of your existing guidance packages (including GAT), and then uninstall the old GAX, before it will be possible to install the new GAX and reinstall the guidance packages. Believe me, we know that this sucks - but unfortunately it's something we're going to have to live with for now. Normally it should be possible to uninstall all of your guidance packages cleanly, but if you run into any problems (like losing the source code for a package you registered using GAT), a while ago we wrote up some tips to manually clean up rogue packages.
Will existing guidance packages and software factories still work with this release?
Yes, with a but. Let me explain. We did a lot of work to make sure that guidance packages built against the June 2006 CTP of GAX will continue to work unchanged with the February 2007 release. This is the case for guidance packages shipped in p&p's software factories, as well as any guidance packages you build yourself.
However, while our software factories do run with the new GAX, a couple of our original MSIs did not believe this, and they will refuse to install unless the June 2006 CTP (exactly) is installed. Here's the state of each of our factories and what we've done to support the new release of GAX and GAT:
- Smart Client Software Factory
- June 2006: Original MSI will work with the June 2006 and February 2007 CTP of GAT/GAX
- Web Client Software Factory
- January 2007: Original MSI will work with the June 2006 and February 2007 CTP of GAT/GAX
- Web Service Software Factory
- July 2006 (C#): No longer available to download. Original MSI will install only with the June 2006 CTP of GAT/GAX. You should upgrade to the December 2006 (refresh) release.
- July 2006 (VB): Original MSI will install only with the June 2006 CTP of GAT/GAX. A refreshed MSI (same factory, new installer, labeled July 2006 (Refresh)) can be downloaded from here.
- December 2006 (C#): Original MSI will install only with the June 2006 CTP of GAT/GAX. A refreshed MSI (same factory, new installer, labeled December 2006 (Refresh)) can be downloaded from here.
- Mobile Client Software Factory
- July 2006: Original MSI will install only with the June 2006 CTP of GAT/GAX. A refreshed MSI (same factory, new installer, labeled July 2006 (Refresh)) can be downloaded from here.
One more thing to note: while guidance packages built against the June 2006 CTP will continue to work with the February 2007 CTP, the reverse is not true. All current patterns & practices software factories support the June 2006 CTP, however in the future we may drop support for this release and require the February 2007 CTP.
Why is this still branded a CTP? What's next for GAT and GAX?
Like the previous releases, this new release is still labeled a Community Technology Preview. This is because the deliverables are still unsupported, and we can't promise to maintain compatibility as we continue to evolve the technologies. Keep in mind that both GAX and GAT are only designed to run on development machines, not production servers, so even if something does blow up, it's not going to blow up your production systems. That said, we've gone through the same quality gates with GAT and GAX as we do with any other p&p release, and we are confident we have a high quality release. Since all of our factories will depend on this technology, we need to be!
We really are very excited by the potential of this technology and of Software Factories, and we are continuing to work on enhancing the infrastructure, authoring environment and the factories themselves. While we don't yet have a solid product plan that we can commit to, we are working to significantly enhance these deliverables and integrate them much more deeply into Visual Studio and Team System. The goal is that eventually the capabilities you see in GAX and GAT (and in the DSL Tools) will be absorbed into future releases Visual Studio.