I hope you guys enjoyed the August CTP of ADO.NET vNext. As we make progress on the Orcas release of Visual Studio, the various teams –including ourselves- are working hard at integrating everything in a single product, Visual Studio Orcas. For the ADO.NET Entity Framework this means that you won’t see component-specific CTPs any more for Orcas, and instead you’ll see Orcas CTPs that have all these technologies incorporated. We may still do separate CTPs of related technologies if we see that it would help at some point in time.

Also, since the ADO.NET Entity Framework is in the Orcas builds, we don’t need the generic “vNext” token for it; from now on we’ll refer to it simply as ADO.NET Orcas, which will include the ADO.NET Entity Framework and LINQ to ADO.NET in its various flavors (LINQ to DataSet, LINQ to SQL and LINQ to Entities).

The Orcas October CTP includes an updated version of ADO.NET. The API and the XML file formats for mapping and schemas changed a bit from the August CTP, and the one you’ll see now should stay stable for the most part (we do have a few changes coming, but they should not be very disruptive).

Now for the fine print: the October CTP contains a newer version of all the internal machinery of ADO.NET Entity Framework/LINQ to ADO.NET, but some of the things that go on the top of the stack won’t be there. Specifically, LINQ to Entities will not be supported in this CTP (just timing, waiting for the right compiler to come in, etc.) and the tools that go with the runtime will not be complete by then. You’ll still see VS integration for creating items and setting up projects so they work with ADO.NET and stuff like that, but automatic generation of model/mapping from a database, as well as visual editing of EDM schemas and mappings won’t be there.

Since we won’t have support for generating schemas and mapping files automatically in this CTP, in order to help you get started with these bits we’ve updated and extended all of the examples that we included in the August CTP so they work in the new CTP. You can use these examples as a starting point for your own applications. You can download the samples here.

I know that not having a visual editor is a bit painful; don’t worry, our tools team is working hard at tools to make sure you don’t have to go through the “fun” experience of hand-editing mapping and schema files directly in XML. (and no, the nice tools that we shipped on top of the August CTP will not work with the October CTP, because we’re including our very latest bits there and we don’t have tools that go with them yet).

Which CTP should you be using?

  • For people who just want to get an understanding of how the ADO.NET Entity Framework, LINQ to Entities and LINQ to DataSet the best bet for now is still the August ADO.NET vNext CTP.
  • For those who want to see the very latest in the Entity Framework runtime and can live without the tools integration that you get in the August CTP, check out the October 2006 Orcas CTP and download the ADO.NET Samples.

As always, feedback is very welcome.

Pablo Castro
ADO.NET Technical Lead