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Get RAD with ASP.NET Extensions

This month's featured downloads include the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions Preview, Visual Basic 9.0 language specification document and more.

The ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions Preview gives you a first look at some interesting paths ASP.NET might take in the coming year. The download includes the ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC), ASP.NET Dynamic Data and ADO.NET Data Services, as well as additions to AJAX and some Silverlight controls.

The MVC framework provides templates and a modified extensions library to include support for applying the MVC pattern to your Web apps. The Dynamic Data framework lets you create a rich customizable Web site based on your database, giving you a full portal to your data in just minutes. You can then customize the generated templates. This provides an extreme RAD experience for developing data-centric Web applications. The ADO.NET Data Services is a continuation of project Astoria, which exposes data over the Web through HTTP verbs such as Get and Put. The ADO.NET Data Services technology is reliant on the Entity Framework, a prerelease version of the Entity Framework that's included in the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions Preview download.

The Visual Basic 9.0 language specification document is now available here. Be aware that the document is not the final draft and still contains some minor errors.

XNA Game Studio 2.0 is available as a free download. While the developers of this technology have acknowledged hearing the pleas of Visual Basic developers who wanted to take advantage XNA Game Studio, at this time the tool supports C# but not VB. You can still create XNA studio games with VB, but there isn't the rich support from it in Visual Studio or any support for it from Microsoft. This release is new, but it's still based on Visual Studio 2005. The good news is that version 2.0--unlike its predecessor, which only worked on the C# Express versions of Visual Studio 2005--works on all versions on VS 2005 (presumably, other than the VB Express version). Download it here.

Microsoft Sync Framework CTP1 has been released under a couple of different guises: Microsoft Sync Framework v1.0 CTP1 Refresh and Microsoft Synchronization Services for ADO.NET v2.0 CTP1 Refresh. These two downloads are really the same thing. I'm sure there's a joke to be made about how the two aren't synced. The Microsoft Sync Framework provides a broad API for synchronization of data and files including Microsoft Live FeedSync. The sync services for ADO.NET provide managed providers for the sync services. At present, all the samples and documentation are online only. Be aware that this CTP is an early release and all the usual caveats about changes apply. Visit the Microsoft Sync center for updates and latest documentation.

The most interesting download this month for working with data is the ADO.NET

Entity Framework beta 3 and its associated tools. To install the Entity Framework tools for Visual Studio, you'll also need to download and install an undocumented patch for VS 2008 (KB945282). The Entity Framework signals Microsoft's long-awaited entry into the object relational mapping (ORM) arena. This release features better performance; it also introduces improvements for working with disconnected entities. The entity model designer in VS has also been improved and is close to being ready for final release. Overall, this beta provides enough basis to enable you to evaluate whether or not the Entity Framework is the right match for your ORM needs. Be sure to check out the upcoming feature story on the Entity Framework scheduled for the March 2008 issue.

About the Author

Bill McCarthy is an independent consultant based in Australia and is one of the foremost .NET language experts specializing in Visual Basic. He has been a Microsoft MVP for VB for the last nine years and sat in on internal development reviews with the Visual Basic team for the last five years where he helped to steer the languageā€™s future direction. These days he writes his thoughts about language direction on his blog at http://msmvps.com/bill.

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