Canadian developers and independent software vendors traveled south to Microsoft Corp.’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles this month, looking for the latest word on where the software company is going and for tools to make their jobs easier.

Joe Bains is senior software developer for Squirrel Systems, a Vancouver-based developer of IT systems for the restaurant industry. Since many workers in the sector do not have a large base of computer experience, and since high turnover rates make extensive training infeasible, Squirrel focuses on making its systems as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. Bains said he sees Vista’s visually appealing graphical user interface (GUI) being a help there.

On the programming side, Bains said a lot of development time is spent reinventing things that should be included in the development suite or OS, or sourcing and configuring third-party applications to do the job. That was a problem he wanted Microsoft to solve.

“I think Microsoft is finally starting to address that, and they’ll get a lot more support in the community if they make the programmer’s job simpler, so we can concentrate on the business needs of their customers,” said Bains. “Let us hone in on quality.”

Patrick Lok, a senior technical specialist with Haba