Astoria Online Service –> SQL Server Data Services

Around a year ago in the Mix 2007 conference we announced Project Astoria, an overall initiative to understand how data is used on the web and what frameworks, tools and services could we create to enable new and better applications in this space. Several things resulted from that effort already.

One of these results is a unified pattern for exposing and manipulating data across various data-centric services using the Atom format and the AtomPub protocol, plus a set of common conventions for constructing URLs to point to resources. This pattern is shared by some Windows Live services as announced here and articulated in more detail here, and also by any services created with the ADO.NET Data Services Framework.

The ADO.NET Data Services Framework is another one of the results of this project. It’s a set of libraries and tools for the .NET Framework to create and consume data services over various data sources, from relational databases to XML content to arbitrary web services. These data services expose the same AtomPub-based interface and same URL conventions, so clients and tools equally apply to online services and to your own services, on the web or on-premises.

The other piece we discussed at Mix 2007 was an experimental online service. As we explained when we first announced it, this service wasn’t a real “online service” in the sense that it wasn’t backed by an internet-scale infrastructure and such. The goal of the service was to learn about data interfaces for online services.

Now, at Mix 2008, we announced our plans to offer a real internet-scale data service called SQL Server Data Services (SSDS). General information about SSDS can be found here, and you can also watch the talk that Nigel Ellis gave at Mix about it. SSDS is a real service that is being made available in a closed beta release. We are now taking registrations for participation in the SSDS beta program. Please go here to sign up. Customers are being accepted into the beta program on a rolling basis.

As part of our unified Data Services vision, we will provide a solution that enables seamless integration between on-promise deployments (software) and cloud based deployments (services).   We’re working on aligning aspects of SSDS and Astoria and this alignment will come over a series of updates to both Astoria and SSDS. For example, we will likely add AtomPub and JSON support to SSDS to match the results encoding of Astoria and are already working on extensions to EDM to incorporate the open content model of SSDS. We’ll be working to extend Astoria as needed to ensure it provides a great development experience over the SSDS service.   It’s also worth noting how the Microsoft Sync Framework can be used to tie multiple deployments together – Nigel covers this in his talk. Stay tuned for more details.

Given that we have SSDS out there now, in the next week or so we will take down the experimental service we’ve hosted at for the last year. That service uses an old interface (it’s not even compatible with the current Astoria patterns), and it’s not meant for real use anyway.

Having a service out there with sample data is really handy though, so we’re exploring options to host a few read-only services somewhere for everybody to access for experimentation and demo purposes.

Are we done? Absolutely not. You’ll see more coming from Project Astoria over time. An example of things we’re exploring for the future is synchronization/offline capabilities for services and service clients, as we demo’ed in this Mix session (Astoria-related stuff starts at minute 35 or so, but the whole talk is really interesting).


Pablo Castro

Software Architect

Microsoft Corporation

Comments (12)

  1. Steve A says:

    I am kinda dissappointed to hear all of what is going on with SSDS while I see the potential at the moment Silverlight is the buz but only on the presentation side.  To create a real line of Business CRUD app in SL is still not there yet (not in a future proof MS architectured way) and from what I can work out from all the various blog posts around SQL Data Services is going to be that missing link, it’s going to be what enables us to create real world Line of Business apps in SL.  So I am dissappointed that we don’t have this SL component yet and it’s seems the teams focus is more on SSDS and therefore will this delay our much required and anticipated SL component ?

  2. Steve: I can guarantee you that we’re making a huge effort to have a great Astoria-Silverlight story. We had to wait until all the pieces necessary to enable the scenario were in place in the Silverlight platform. We’ll post to this blog as soon as we have concrete news.


  3. BenHayat says:

    Pablo, thank you for your comment to Steve’s post. The only thing that has stopped me going forward with SL, is Astoria for SL. So, I’m very glad this is a top priority on your agenda. Please keeps informed how Astoria for SL is coming.

    Oh BTW, is the next release of Astoria for SL (and beta 2 of SL) going to support LINQ2SQL fully (with update)?

    Thank you Pablo!


  4. Ben: hang in there…we’ll have an SL client for you guys 🙂

    Regarding LINQ to SQL: we won’t have support for it out of the box, although you could implement the update interface yourself. Given that we have full support for Entity Framework/LINQ to Entities (which gives us access to SQL Server and also other databases), there isn’t much motivation to also do LINQ to SQL…


  5. Mark says:

    Hey there,

    Nothing new here but I would echo the comments above, that we are very eagerly awaiting the SL 2 Astoria client.

    Our architecture story was complete with WCF and home grown domain objects and the Enterprise Library.  That’s now changed and we’ve taken a leap of faith with EF and Astoria.  At this point the productivity impact of not having a SL 2 client is forcing us to consider a rollback.

    Any bits you can release even in raw shape will at least minimize rewriting service consumption / presentation layer binding.


  6. Register Now for SSDS Closed Beta

  7. BenHayat says:

    Hi Mark;

    I think you have made the right decision to wait for Astoria. writing (your own) middle tier server can take a lot of resources. I have great faith in Astoria team and I’ve decided to wait for them. Just my two cents!


  8. Mark says:

    By the way – just to comment on the actual thread topic 🙂 …

    For a SaaS shop, is SSDS really a sensible option?  It seems this would be years and years away, and way too much of a gamble in terms of features, accessibility, and performance.  

    With Astoria however – it conceivably kills two birds with one stone for us.  Feeds the RIA, and also exposes integration points.  Beauty.

  9. Daniel says:

    I think that leaving LINQ to SQL behind because EF is already supported is a shame. Many people use LINQ to SQL, but not EF. L2S, today, is a better RAD tool with better support for persistence ignorance.

  10. christi parks says:

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  11. christi parks says:

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