DevConnections Spring 2007 Day 0: ScottGu, AJAX++ & Entity Frameworks

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DevConnections 2007 kicked off tonight with Keynote presentations from Scott Guthrie, Mr. ASP.NET himself, and Christian Kleinerman, Sql Server Relational Engine Group Program Manager.

Scott was up first, and he focused principally on some client-side technologies. After the standard ASP.NET AJAX dog & pony (Northwind + GridView + UpdatePanel for the uninitiated), he demoed some features of the ASP.NET Control Toolkit. He did mention rather emphatically that Microsoft was very happy with how the Toolkit’s development turned out, both by splitting the project with a stable, MS-developed base (ASP.NET AJAX) and a more fluid layer providing loads of functionality (ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit). They are also very pleased how the combination of Microsoft developers and community contributions has conspired to keep Toolkit development rolling. And he indicated that they plan to use this design and development pattern on upcoming projects.

After the walk down ASP.NET AJAX lane, Scott walked through some of the key features of Visual Studio .NET Orcas. Yes, children, JavaScript debugging is very real. It also appears that many of the technologies developed for the Expression series of design tools have been migrated into Visual Studio. In any case, stay tuned for a new CTP coming in “a few weeks.”

But the highlight was the demo on “AJAX++”, or, more properly, WPF/E—Microsoft’s attempt at creating a flash killer. It has a few key differences—mainly the ability to interact directly with .NET code. The platform is very powerful—just get the plug-in and point your browser to While the site is in Slovenian, the online Vista clone is pretty slick in any language. According to Scott, we can look forward to RTM of WPF/E in the summer.

Christian covered a lot of ground. In the “really cool stuff that I never heard of” category, he mentioned the Sql Server Performance Dashboard. When used in conjunction with Sql 2005 SP2, it can integrate many common database performance reports into your Sql Server Management Studio. The second item is the Sql Server Best Practices Analyzer V2 (not yet avaliable), which, well, analyzes your Sql Server setup to ensure it conforms to published best practices. Pretty handy as Sql 2005 configuration is a bit more involved than Sql 2000 and it is always good to have a sanity check & audit on things. Finally, Christian hinted that they were significantly tightening up the Sql Server development cycle and that the initial CTPs for Katami—the next version of Sql Server—was not too far off.

Finally, Brian Dawson, the Program Manager for Sql Server ADO.NET, did a brief teaser about the Entity Framework—part of Microsoft’s ORM approach. Technical difficulties prevented the planned demo, but I will definitely be checking out those sessions tomorrow. Stay tuned for more.

Wyatt BarnettWyatt Barnett
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