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The Patterns & Practices team at Microsoft provides a collection of resources to help developers apply best practices to the development, deployment and operation of enterprise applications. Guidance comes in four primary forms: Software Factories, Application Blocks (including Enterprise Library), Reference Implementations and Guidelines.

Software Factories are configurable tools your architects and developers use to build applications. Application Blocks are reusable application components that implement software design patterns and are built with best practices for enterprise use. Reference Implementations are full, working applications that you can use as a starting point for your own applications, or simply use as examples. Guidelines appear as architectural and prescriptive guidance (wizards, how-tos, and documentation).

The Patterns & Practices code is available in source form so you can extend it, and there are active developer communities around many of the tools that offer additional guidance and support. Start using the tools today, join the communities, and become more productive as an architect and/or developer!

Software Factories Information  Software Factories Information Minimize

The Microsoft Patterns & Practices group has created a set of software factories that enable you to build applications that follow best practices faster and more consistently. The current lineup of sofware factories are as follows:

  • Smart Client Software Factory (SCSF) - wraps the Composite UI app block and Enterprise Library v2 (MS Outlook is an example of a composite app). See my SCSF focus page for more information.
  • Web Service Software Factory (WSSF aka the Service Factory) - create the server side of the web service equation. Supports both ASMX (.NET v2) and WCF (.NET v3). See my WSSF focus page for more information.
  • Web Client Software Factory (WCSF) - create distributed apps using the UI Process app block and Enterprise Library v2
  • Mobile Client Software Factory (MCSF) - create composite apps for portable devices

The current software factories are built using the Enterprise Library v2/3 components, and a set of technologies known as Guidance Automation. Architects use the Guidance Automation Toolkit (GAT) to create Guidance Packages with customized code templates and code generation recipes (actions). Developers use Guidance Packages to generate application solutions with the recipe wizards and guidance built into Visual Studio 2005.

On my Downloads page, find overview slide decks covering the basics of SCSF and WSSF, including an extensive list of resources, links, and tips & tricks.

As we near the end of 2007, more information is leaking out of the Patterns & Practices (and Acropolis) teams as to the direction their projects are taking. The Acropolis team appears to be ending their current effort, as their project is being integrated into future NET Framework releases. The Smart Client team now begins work on a new project called the WPF Composite Client that provides a bridge to the future Acropolis work. See the links to the left for current info.

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The Microsoft Patterns & Practices group developed the Enterprise Library, made up of a set of related Application Blocks. Application Blocks are reusable source-code components that implement recognized software patterns, and are built with implementation best practices developed by solving real-world development problems.

The v2 lineup of Enterprise Library releases and standalone Application Blocks are as follows:

  • Enterprise Library v2 (ELv2) - packages together the most popular Application Blocks for easy installation and configuration: Caching, Cryptography, Data Access, Exception Management, Logging, and Security. See my Enterprise Library focus page for more information on ELv2 and the other Application Blocks. ELv2 was released in January, 2006.  
  • Stanalone Application Blocks - individual reusable components include: Composite UI, Smart Client Offline, Updater, UI Process, Async Invocation and Aggregation Application Blocks.

Enterprise Library v3 is currently in Beta form - the most recent release is the December 2006 CTP. New components in ELv3:

  • Validation Block (VAB): create data validation rules in your business layer.
  • Application Block Software Factory (ABSF): create your own application blocks and providers.
  • The configuration tool is now integrated into Visual Studio (the standalone tool is still available).

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