Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Progress Software, SAP AG, and WSO2 have submitted a proposal to OASIS to begin the formal standardization process for OData. You can find all the details here, and OData architect Pablo Castro also provides some context for this announcement over on the OData.org blog. It’s an exciting time for the OData community!
OData is a REST-based web protocol for querying and updating data, and it’s built on standardized technologies such as HTTP, Atom/XML, and JSON. If you’re not already familiar with OData, the OData.org web site is the best place to learn more.
Many organizations are already working with OData, and it has proven to be a useful and flexible technology for enabling interoperability between disparate data sources, applications, services, and clients. Chris Woodruff has a blog post this week that lists many OData implementations, and as he explained in a post last week, “By having data that is easy to consume and understand organizations can allow their customers and partners (via the developers that build the solutions using one or more of the available OData libraries) to leverage the value of curated data that the organization owns.” Many organizations are already pursuing that vision – as Ralf Handl of SAP AG told us at a recent OData meetup, “my job is relatively simple: I want to put OData into all of our products.”
We support OData in many Microsoft products and services, and the list is growing longer all the time. This includes OData consumers such as Microsoft Excel (via the free PowerPivot add-in) as well as OData producers such as Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Windows Server supports OData, and Windows Azure provides OData support in many areas, including Windows Azure Storage Table Service, Windows Azure Marketplace, and ACS Management Service. We’re also making many Microsoft data sources available in OData format. For example:
- The OData feed from Microsoft Research can be used to query against publications, projects, events, and other entities.
- The Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket offers OData feeds for Business, Government, Health Science, Retail, and many other categories.
A variety of OSS technologies can benefit from OData support, and our team has delivered tools to make it easy for OSS developers to expose data as OData from a variety of platforms. Earlier this year we announced Open Source OData Tools for MySQL and PHP Developers, including the OData Producer Library for PHP and the OData Connector for MySQL. We’re continuing to work closely with various OSS communities on OData support, and we’ll be releasing information soon on new ways to provide OData feeds from popular OSS frameworks and applications.
OData’s query syntax is straightforward from a developer’s perspective. For example, here’s a query that you can use in any browser to return the count of the number of products in the sample Northwind database OData feed on OData.org:
In a typical application, that query would be generated behind the scenes, and the returned result would be rendered in a nicely formatted manner as appropriate for the particular application.
To enable those sorts of scenarios, developers need OData support for the languages, framework, and tools that they’re already using. Many developer tools already offer OData support. Here are a few examples:
- Microsoft Visual Studio offers comprehensive OData support through WCF Data Services.
- OData support is provided by OSS SDKs for iPhone, Android, and other frameworks.
- Telerik has developed a variety of developer tools and services for creating OData consumers and producers.
- ComponentOne offers OData support in their BarChart and LineChart controls.
- Validation is a critical step in creating robust OData services, and the Outercurve Foundation provides an OData Service Validation Tool that can be used to test implementations against the OData spec.
- The OData4j project is an open-source toolkit to help Java developers add OData support to their applications and services.
As you can see, the OData ecosystem is growing, and awareness of OData is growing with it. At the OData meetup earlier this year, we heard from many people who are finding innovative ways to use OData in their organizations to improve customer service, enable new scenarios, and increase efficiency. Anant Jhingran of APIgee stated in his presentation at the meetup that “if data isn’t your core business, then you should give it away.” It was a provocative statement, and for those who share that philosophy, OData is a great tool for making it easier to share data.
If you’re interested in implementing OData or contributing to the OData standard, now’s the time to get involved. You can work with the odata.org community to help drive awareness and share implementation experiences, or join the OASIS OData technical committee (OData TC) to contribute to the standard. The OData TC will be a vibrant and diverse group of people – just like the community who got us here today – working together to open up data sources in a standardized way. As Pablo stated in his blog post, the main value of OData is not any particular design choice, but the fact that enough people agree to the same pattern, thus removing friction from sharing data across independent producers and consumers. The first TC call will be in late July, so there’s still plenty of time to get involved if you’d like to be part of the team that will be helping OData evolve.
Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to get OData to this important step on the journey to standardization! We’re looking forward to working with the community to develop OData into a formal standard through OASIS.
Senior Technical Evangelist
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.
A subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation