(this post was originally posted here)

Since announcing our ADO.NET vNext plans at TechEd last week, the team has been on the lookout for your feedback on where we heading with the next release. This post is a round up of some of the comments / feedback we've heard. It's certainly not all of it, but should give you a flavor of what we are hearing. Some of it positive, some if it less so, but all very valuable...Lots of good questions and clarification being asked for.

TechEd

Let's start with Andres Aguiar. He sat through Dave Campbell's session on Microsoft's Data Platform Vision (I'll post a link to the webcast once it's up. In the meantime, Kent Tegels has some useful notes).

Andres enjoyed the Entity Framework news:

"It was a good session. I totally buy MS's Data Vision. The most interesting stuff for me is the Entity Framework. At last there will be a conceptual data model that all MS products will share (Reporting, Replication, Analysis Services, ADO.NET). This is a big and important improvement in the way we used data. The 'Data Dude' tool looks cool. If they manage to integrate it with the Entity Framework, it would rock."

Pablo Castro, technical lead on ADO.NET also presented at TechEd. He provided a talk called 'Next-generation Data Access in .NET Applications with ADO.NET vNext' (summarized at DevX here, Kent's notes here and Jason Coyne's notes here). We had good face time with customers giving us plenty of feedback after the talks. While at TechEd, the team also had meet up with a few ADO.NET friends and gurus.

(Dave Sceppa and Pablo also presented 'Integrated Innovation: Using ADO.NET 2.0 with SQL Server 2005'. You can view the webcast here - registration required)

This week

This week, Pablo followed up TechEd with this post providing an outline of the planned improvements with links to more detailed documentation. He asked for more feedback - you've been keeping us busy by providing lots of it on your blogs and comments at Pablo's post.

Techworld covered the news too:

"Entities will help improve communication between business people and developers, said Lyn Robison, an analyst with the application platforms group at the Burton Group. "It will raise the level of abstraction so that you can begin to think of data from a business perspective, not just from a rows-and-tables-in-a-database perspective," Robison said."

Some of the early feedback on the documents included this post on Ayende Rahien's blog on the topic of LINQ for Entities, specifically: many-to-many relationships; the extensibility of the data model; and Indexed and Custom collections. You can read Pablo's response in the post's comments. Wagnerblog also had some thoughts to share in the context of ADO.NET Entities and ORMs. Tim Mallalieu (a PM on the ADO.NET team) also blogged his thoughts on Entities, sparking off some further discussion there.

A recurring theme of some of the feedback is summed up by Andres Aguiar.

"OK, it actually happened. We'll have two mapping technologies in .NET v.next.

LinQ for SQL, previously known as DLinQ is the 'simple' mapping technology.

LinQ for Entities, will be on top of the new ADO.NET Entity Framework, and will be the 'complex' (we could say 'real') mapping technology.

Now, does this make sense? How will someone decide to use one or the other?"

Ayende again:

"Oh joy! Three ORM frameworks. Linq to SQL, Linq to DataSet, Linq to Entities."

This was echoed by David Hayden and others. Clearly we have work to do in this area - this point was acknowledged by Somasegar (VP of Microsoft's Developer Division) where he blogged this week about LINQ and ADO.NET Entities:

"Our teams are busy working on the next version of Visual Studio and incorporating these technologies in a consolidated way to ensure the very best experience for our developers."

Another common question we heard was about the ADO.NET vNext CTP and its timing. In this Forum post by Lance Olson, the ADO.NET Group PM, he provides an August 2006 target date. This was later blogged by Erwyn Van Der Meer and Alex at Base4 after the team confirmed it.

Getting more into developer experience, Shyam posted up a 'great' screencast showing ADO.NET vNext in action, again prompting yet more feedback and questions.

More feedback

As we move toward the CTP later this year, we want to make sure we have a systematic, scalable process around capturing your feedback (Bugs, Suggestions and Other) on the bits we release. We also want to provide you with status on these as the product development goes on. We'll be using the Microsoft Connect platform developed for beta programs at Microsoft (IE is one of the many teams using it). Using Connect, the feedback provided goes directly into our team's bug tracking and development systems. It has recently been upgraded to replace the Product Feedback Center (Ladybug). Look out for more info with respect to ADO.NET vNext later in the year.

In the meantime, keep the feedback coming!

Oh, and don't forget to check out the new Data blog. If you want to get your thoughts heard by Sam Druker, Product Unit Manager (PUM) for Microsoft's Data Programmability team, then this is the place to do it.

Thanks!

Alex Barnett, Community PM