We are very excited about .NET 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and what this update means for developers who use ADO.NET for data development. This beta marks the entry of the ADO.NET Entity Framework and ADO.NET Data Services (aka project Astoria) as part of the overall .NET/Visual Studio beta install. This public release is also the final beta before the RTM of these two technologies. In addition, we have a revision of LINQ to SQL that introduces the new date time functions for SQL Server 2008.
In the space of a few short months developers have been able to experience a wave of innovation in the .NET data programming space. We began with the introduction of LINQ in .NET Framework 3.5 for providing a compile time query experience over in-memory objects, XML and relational data, and now we’re adding the Entity Framework runtime and graphical entity designer into the mix. The Entity Framework extends the reach of ADO.NET, providing a new data model that will be the foundation for a range of data services moving forward. We’ve also enhanced the common ADO.NET provider model enabling a LINQ programming experience against 3rd party databases. The Entity Framework designer in Visual Studio works with 3rd party databases as well and enables developers to visualize the data model being used by the application.
Over the last year or so we’ve seen a growing trend in the way people build services. They tend to either be operation-centric with a focus on actions occurring on either side or they are resource-centric, where the focus is on working with the data or resource on either side. For operation-centric services the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow (WF) teams have done a bunch of work in .NET 3.5 to make it easier to build these action oriented service interfaces as a workflow. On the data-centric side, the Data Programmability team has been working with the WCF team to deliver ADO.NET Data Services. This is one of the most exciting new additions to the platform in some time, providing the foundation for building the next generation of data-driven applications and services today. These data services build on the WCF classes to provide an end-to-end experience for building data-centric REST based services in .NET. They have a REST based query model, a means of exchanging metadata (in terms of the Entity Data Model) and client and mid-tier API’s that let people build rich data services and clients in a way that is easier than ever before. Developers can start with the Entity Framework and expose relational data via the Data Services Framework, they can expose non-relational data using a custom provider, or they can use some of the existing services that already expose these protocols.
In summary, it is an exciting time to be working with data on the .NET platform. The team is looking forward to your feedback. We invite you all to download this beta and start using these technologies today.
General Manager, Data Programmability