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Missing the Orcas Bus

It's barely spring, at least up here in the Northeast, and yet it seems like we've been talking about the next version of Visual Studio, code-named "Orcas," forever. That's why we're running a cover story on the first Visual Studio "Orcas" beta in our May 15 issue of Redmond Developer News, and it's why we've been keeping close tabs on the highly anticipated update to Microsoft's flagship IDE since the day we launched.

As we draw closer to ship (some time late this year or early next), we're starting to play the timeless game of Name That Missing Feature. You probably remember all the madcap hijinks around Windows Vista, as the development team tossed one function after the next off the floundering Vista boat in an effort to make shore. Now, I'm not saying Orcas is in anything approaching the rough shape Vista found itself in, but a few features may not make the final version of the IDE.

Foremost among them is the .NET Entity Framework, the advanced data-access technology built atop ADO.NET 2.0 that will enable programmers to develop against a conceptual domain model, rather than work against the relational database layer. As Senior Editor Kathleen Richards reports here the Entity Framework was baked into Orcas beta 1, but the Entity Data Model Designer that's needed to take full advantage of it wasn't ready. Microsoft says it plans to introduce the EDMD as a Visual Studio extension in the first half of 2008.

Microsoft contends that all is well and that we'll see the .NET Entity Framework fully implemented and accessible within Visual Studio Orcas. But a lot of folks are probably thinking...ObjectSpaces. The technology was supposed to bring object-relational mapping (OR/M) to the .NET Framework as part of Visual Studio 2005, but got scuttled along with the demise of WinFS.

Personally, I think it's too early to rush for the exits. Microsoft has a determined and strategic data access effort afoot in the LINQ Project, and other key LINQ components are in place. What do you think? Is your faith in Entity Frameworks shaken? Write me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/02/2007 at 1:15 PM


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