Still updating my Mix 09 Silverlight 3 + RIA Services talk with more fun stuff.  This time I take up a challenge from Mr. Wildermuth.  Shawn recently raised a very interesting issue with RIA Services development.  He works with a lot of large enterprises that need to have separate solution files for their client and server projects.  Generally we recommend the RIA Services Class Library projects for this sort of thing.  But there are some cases where even more flexibility is needed.  To take up this challenge, I have factored my (now famous?) SuperEmployee’s app into two solutions: one from client and one for server. 

You can see the full series here.

The demo requires (all 100% free and always free):

  1. VS2008 SP1
  2. Silverlight 3 RTM
  3. .NET RIA Services July '09 Preview

Also, download the full demo files

The first thing to understand about this scenario is that all of the codegen from RIA Services actually done with MSBuild tasks that can be used outside from the VS IDE… this is important for build machine scenarios or more complex project structure (as we will see here).  There are really two steps here… first we build out the web server solution, then we build a separate solution for the client.     Thanks to our development manager, Jason Allor for working out these steps.. 

Build the Web Server:

  1. Open Visual Studio and create a new ASP.Net Web Application project. This results in a new solution containing just this server project.
  2. Add references to the RIA assemblies, including System.Web.Ria, and System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations


3. Add the Silverlight div to the default.aspx page..

    <div id="silverlightControlHost">
        <object data="data:application/x-silverlight-2," type="application/x-silverlight-2" width="100%" height="100%">
          <param name="source" value="ClientBin/MyApp.xap"/>
          <param name="onError" value="onSilverlightError" />
          <param name="background" value="white" />
          <param name="minRuntimeVersion" value="3.0.40624.0" />
          <param name="autoUpgrade" value="true" />
          <a href="" style="text-decoration:none">
               <img src="" alt="Get Microsoft Silverlight" style="border-style:none"/>
        </object><iframe id="_sl_historyFrame" style="visibility:hidden;height:0px;width:0px;border:0px"></iframe>

4. Hook in your back-end data source as I showed in past posts.. 

5. Author a DomainService class which exposes one or more query methods, insert and update methods, etc. Ensure that this class contains the EnableClientAccess attribute, again, just like i showed in past posts

6. Build the solution and ensure that it compiles without errors.

7. Close VS.

Build the Client:

  1. Open a new instance of Visual Studio and create a new Silverlight Application project. When prompted, uncheck the “Host the Silverlight application in a new Web site” checkbox. This also removes the “Enable .NET RIA Services” checkbox.
  2. Add references to the RIA and data assemblies, including
    System.Windows.Ria, System.Windows.Ria.Controls, System.Windows.Data, System.Runtime.Serialization, and System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations
  3. Save the solution.
  4. Right-click on the project node in Solution Explorer and select Unload Project
  5. Right-click on the project node in Solution Explorer and select Edit .csproj


6. Find the <LinkedServerProject> node in the csproj file. It will initially be empty. Fill in the path to the .csproj file from the web server project that you created above.


7 . Save and close the .csproj file.

8. Right-click on the project node in Solution Explorer and select Reload Project


9. Build the project.

10. Notice that the Generated Code folder shows up and RIA Services has built your client-side entity model for you. You can now consume your data on the client using the standard RIA Services patterns.

11. Now we need to copy the resulting XAP to the web app so we can run the app correctly, this is easy enough from the project properties.


Open the web solution in a separate instance of VS (it is fine to have both solutions open at the same time).. After a little work in the client, we end up with this: 


Notice, you can make changes to the client and rebuild, then just hit F5 in the browser and the new XAP will load.  

So, by setting up the client's LinkedServerProject property manually, we can have the RIA Services client and server projects in different solutions, and\or build them separately in a command-line based build system.  This gives you a lot of flexibility in how you manage large and complex build systems.  

Hope that helps!