Popfly, Microsoft’s Innovative Mashup Programmer, Cancelled

From John Montgomery comes word that Microsoft’s Popfly project has been cancelled. I was bullish on Popfly, predicting that it would become the power-user’s entrance to Silverlight.

I have had a history of wishful thinking about “restoring the bridge between power users and programmers.” I think Microsoft’s Powershell is incredible and it absolutely boggles me that it’s not gotten more traction.

Is it possible that I’m just clinging to an outmoded value? That these potential bridges don’t get traveled because people aren’t interested in the destination?

4 thoughts on “Popfly, Microsoft’s Innovative Mashup Programmer, Cancelled

  1. Maybe powershell isn’t powerful enough?

    I use basic Unix fork / join / pipes in Cygwin for trivial parallelism & concurrency all the time, and it’s a very important part of my slower-running scripts, in particularly, cat / sort / uniq for set operations, greps, cuts and pastes, for 500MB or so text files, with I/O optimized by alternating temporary files from one disk to another.

    Powershell pipelines are single-theaded. The object orientation doesn’t buy me much more than I already get with e.g. tab-delimited and fixed-width text data. And I also get portability across Win32, Mac, Linux and Solaris (for my ZFS fileserver), which is not to be sniffed at – having a familiar and powerful environment everywhere I go is great.

  2. Cygwin and standard shell techniques may be better at processing large amounts of files or text data, but they have been optimized for this purpose over many many years so this is not surprising. Powershell is a paradigm shift and still a bit new, with many of Microsoft’s own applications only recently jumping on the band wagon. I still think that Powershell is at least one order of magnitude more powerful than classic shell scripting techniques, especially when you consider tasks that do not involve 500MB text files. If you ever have to write a batch script that needs to determine a computer’s IP address or do any other sort of complex data collection/analysis, then the use of an object orientated pipeline is invaluable. I haven’t done any multi-threaded scripts in powershell yet, but my guess is that the Background Jobs API (PSJobs cmdlets) added to Powershell V2.0 are just as easy if not easier to work with and understand than forks and joins.

    The lack of cross platform compatability is one major issue with Powershell, but in some aspects Powershell is able to overcome this by supporting modern communication technologies such as web services, database connections, and xml processing as first class citizens. Sure, Powershell is not able to execute on Mac or Linux, but it is very capable for accessing or managing Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, or any other web based application or platform. Even the VMWare community has started to embrace Powershell for deploying and managing virtual machines.

    I think it will be very interesting to see how IronPython and IronRuby affect the adoption or evolution of Powershell, as in my mind they are very formidable opponents for scripting languages integrated with .NET.

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