Treating data at a higher level of abstraction
Looking to assist developers in building business applications, Microsoft published a second beta version of ADO.Net Entity Framework this week and a community technology preview of tools to work with the framework.
The goal of the ADO.Net Entity Framework is to eliminate the impedance mismatch between data models and languages, saving developers from having to deal with these. An example of such a mismatch is objects and relational stores.
Automation of complex processes is critical to the framework.
"Today, when a developer builds an application, they have to write code that fills in the gaps between the way the data is stored in however many databases they interact with and the way they want to manipulate the data in their application," said Britt Johnston, product manager for data programmability tools at Microsoft. "Generally, what they do is create an object model that they write their code against."
Developers might write an application that manipulates a CRM system with data for customers stored in 12 different tables, said Johnston.
"With the Entity Framework, you can automate the process essentially of bringing all that data together and presenting it to the developer as a single entity so they can interact with it at a higher level of abstraction," Johnston said.
Key new features in the framework beta release include events to customize code generation, complex programming types and entity key serialization. A key is a unique identifier for an entity, such as a customer ID. Metadata annotations and better support for LINQ (Language Integrated Query) also are included. LINQ features extensions to the .Net Framework to encompass language-integrated data query, set and transform operations.
Developers can access the framework on Microsoft's Web site. ADO.Net Entity Framework is due for general release as part of .Net Framework 3.5 in early 2008. Most would get it as part of an operating system update.
The ADO.Net Entity Framework Tools Community Technology Preview for August features an early version of the ADO.Net Entity Designer, enabling users to visually design model and mappings using the Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 release. The tools preview is accessible on Microsoft's download page with the tools to be part of Visual Studio 2008.
With the framework, developers could focus on the needs of an application instead of the complexities of bridging disparate data representations. The framework consists of a data model and design-time and run-time services that allow developers to describe application data and interact with it in a conceptual level of abstraction appropriate for business applications, according to the company. This helps isolate the application from underlying logical database schemas.