My family and I like to visit large bookstores together. We tend to drift apart shortly after arriving only to come together again for coffee and treats in Starbucks. I tend to head over to the science and technology section and the computer-related bookshelves, my wife to the novels, my eldest son to the gamers area, and my youngest son to the culture studies section.
One thing I like to do while perusing the computer books is to predict trends in information technology. What programming languages are getting a lot of coverage? What certifications are taking off? What popular trends are emerging in web services? What databases get the most press?
This week, I had fully intended to attend a regional Microsoft event entitled The Exciting Adventures of the Microsoft Application Platform Developer not just because it was intended for both developers and IT managers, but because I was curious about what trends were emerging in Microsoft products for data-driven applications and web sites. Unfortunately, I felt too ill to attend the event. But it still got me thinking and wondering about the future.
Why is it, for instance, that I see so little on the bookshelves about a product like SQL Server Express? I bought Rick Dobson's Beginning SQL Server 2005 Express: Database Applications with Visual Basic Express and Visual Web Developer Express, From Novice to Professional some time ago, believing that I should become conversant with a product that seemed ready to infiltrate small to medium-sized businesses who had outgrown Microsoft Access. But I haven't seen it on the shelves recently, nor any of the many SQL Server Express books available online. Based on the books lining the shelves in Chapters, I'd have to say there isn't much of a future in store for SQL Server Express.
But maybe it's just a matter of timing. Maybe it's a matter of my being interested primarily in small and medium-sized businesses. Maybe Microsoft needs to do a little more marketing. Or...just maybe Microsoft Access still can fulfill most of the requirements for departmental databases, for small- and medium-sized databases without worries about the .NET CLR, XML data types, etc. Certainly the Chapters bookshelves look more promising for Access than SQL Server Express.