BDC Definition Editor vs. BDC Meta Man
As many of you already know, this week Microsoft released a free tool for creating application definitions in the Business Data Catalog. Some people feel that this spells the end of BDC MetaMan from Lightning Tools. I couldn’t disagree more.
First, for full disclosure purposes, let me say up front that Nick Swan is a good friend of mine and my company, BinaryWave, promotes BDC MetaMan to our clients and partners. Nick has devoted a tremendous amount of time and effort to making BDCMM a killer tool and, having looked at the BDCDE from Microsoft, I don’t think he’s in any danger of being eclipsed by the big boys from Redmond. Nick spells it out pretty well on his blog but here are my thoughts:
1. A free tool from Microsoft isn’t necessarily the best tool or the right one for your organization. Lots of people use VMWare instead of Virtual PC even though VPC is free. They just find the features in VMWare to be better suited to the way they work. The same can be said for numerous Visual Studio plugins and Office add-ons.
2. Microsoft doesn’t seem to be committed to the BDCDE as a separate SKU. By releasing it as part of an SDK, they are essentially saying ‘here is a free tool, go have fun with it’. If they were committed to owning this space it would be a stand alone product with a dedicated team. One quick glance over the UI will convince you that this is not the case.
3. Regardless of point #2 above, even if MS were to commit to this space, how responsive are they going to be to creating new features just for you? Not very – they’re a giant organization with many customers to satisfy. Ask Nick to add a justifiable new feature to BDCMM and he’s all over it like slither on a snake. And if you really need something custom, he’ll do it for you on a consultative basis (and if he doesn’t have time, we’ll do it for you).
4. BDCMM is now the standard. Microsoft has to measure up to it, not the other way around. If they miss a key feature or promote something else to a higher priority they’re going to fall way behind. I know that Nick stays up late at night thinking about how he can make BDCMM better, what new features to add, how to increase its value, etc. so the folks in Redmond better pack a lunch sack full of gumption to keep up with that Englishman.
All in all, I don’t think there’s anything for Nick to worry about. A little competition is good for everyone and just because the competitor is a massive organization doesn’t mean they’re going to win out in the end (remember that Google started out as a small underdog to the Yahoo giant – they were actually a very late comer to the search party). And kudos to Microsoft for doing something to satisfy the demands of their customers even if they already knew there was a better alternative out there.
So Nick, if you’re reading this, press on, Brother. We’ve got your back. And if you are a BDC MetaMan Fan, be sure to speak up about it and let other people know why you like the tool. Nothing sells like some good ‘ol honest word-of-mouth.