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Simplified SQL Server Aimed At Web Devs

Microsoft yesterday introduced WebMatrix, "a new lightweight Web development tool that ... makes it even easier for people to get started with Web development using ASP.NET."

This announcement came in Scott Guthrie's blog, where he previously introduced the three main components of the new beta tool: IIS Developer Express, ASP.NET "Razor" and the new SQL Server Compact Edition, an embedded database.

While it's been around for quite a while, SQL Server CE steps up from Version 3.5 to Version 4, which has been specially designed for Web development, said Guthrie, a vice president in Microsoft's Developer Division. In response to a reader's question about how the new version differs from the old version, Guthrie said: "The biggest improvement is that it now designed and tested to work in a multi-threaded environment.  Previous releases of SQL CE only worked in client apps and would corrupt/crash in server environments.  SQL CE 4 specifically supports server scenarios." Also he said, Version 4 handles shared hosting and medium trust scenarios and is more compatible with the regular SQL Server, allowing for easier migration to the full-featured database environment.

In the meantime, with SQL Server CE, Web developers don't have to install a database in their projects. You just need to copy its binary files into a specific directory, Guthrie said. Database files are stored on disk, after which SQL Server CE runs in-memory, which allows for much faster data manipulation and is the trend of Microsoft data-intensive products such as the new PowerPivot "self-service" business intelligence tool.

Other features of SQL Server CE 4 include:

  • Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Web Developer 2010 Express Support
  • Compatibility with existing .NET Framework-based data APIs
  • Support of shared Web hosting ("medium trust")
  • Support of development and production scenarios

In response to dozens of questions from readers, Guthrie indicated future enhancements of SQL Server CE would likely include:

  • SQL CE for Silverlight clients (and Windows Phone 7)
  • Support of geographic types
  • Support for databases larger than the current limit of 4GB
  • Providers to support ASP.NET membership and profiles

The blogosphere, as usual, supplied plenty of alternative takes on the announcement. One blogger referred to SQL Server CE 4 as "Microsoft's response to SQLite." Another offered up a comparison with Firebird Embedded. Another wondered about the possibility of using SQL Server CE 4 to offload work from a main database.

The WebMatrix public beta is available as a 15MB download (50MB if you need to install .NET 4).

Posted by David Ramel on 07/07/2010 at 1:15 PM


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