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LINQ Skeptic

Anyone who has spent more than a few hours in front of late-night TV has seen the unintentionally funny commercial for the Hair Club for Men. You know, the one where the company president proudly announces: "I'm not just the president, I'm also a client."

Well, Paul Kimmel, longtime enterprise application developer and author of the new book LINQ Unleashed for C# (Sams Publishing, 2008), has had a hair club moment of his own. Only in Kimmel's case, it's over the Language Integrated Query (LINQ) data access technology introduced as part of .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008.

Kimmel, you see, was more than a little skeptical about LINQ when he first heard of the technology. To his mind, LINQ couldn't fix what was already wrong with SQL, which he felt lacked the simplicity and consistency of natively object-oriented code. But when he set to work to write LINQ Unleashed for C# (in part, he said, to get a "continuing education"), something funny happened.

"I just decided to give LINQ a second look, and as I started to explore and use it, I realized it was a well-conceived extension of the architecture and tightly integrated," Kimmel said. "They really didn't just glom this on here. It was really an evolutionary progression of features and capabilities."

Today, Kimmel is using LINQ in a limited fashion in some of his enterprise development projects for Electronic Data Systems (EDS). But he expects that we'll all be seeing a lot of LINQ in the future. The benefits, he said, are just too great to ignore, especially when developers are struggling with so many different data access approaches.

"Once you know how to do a left join or how to use aggregation or something like that, it is pretty much the same, regardless of the technology you are hitting," he said. "That homogenization of knowledge, where I have to learn one set of grammar for all these different technologies, is a tremendous lever for what I need to learn to be productive in the enterprise."

Kimmel said it will be some time before LINQ gains widespread adoption. After all, the industry is still waiting for LINQ to Entities to emerge in its final form. But Kimmel thinks the technology could help attract developers to .NET.

"The LINQ technology has so many useful tools surrounding it that most developers are going to be interested, and it may be the thing that moves the VB6 guys to .NET," Kimmel said, noting: "Nothing is going to get the FoxPro folks out."

Are you a LINQ skeptic, and if so, why? E-mail me at [email protected] and let me know what you think is wrong -- or right -- about LINQ.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 07/31/2008

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