When Microsoft employees talk about LINQ publicly, we haven't tended to emphasize how much time you can save by using it. This is perhaps because we don't want LINQ to be labeled as simply another RAD tool designed to save time. Nevertheless, it is becoming clear to me that shorter development cycles may be one of the first major benefits of LINQ to be widely recognized by the community.
I first began to notice the importance of this issue a month or two ago at a customer visit in San Diego. I asked if anyone at the company we were visiting was using LINQ. Only one person raised their hand. I asked him about his experience, and one of the first things he said was that he was able to get a lot of work done very quickly. DBA's at our session immediately chimed in with the usual objections about moving queries out of the database and into a codebase, and from there the discussion wandered off on a predictable tangent. Yet since then I've remembered that user's experience with rapid development, and the obvious enthusiasm he had for his subject.
The subject came up again during other stops in Southern California. The same point was raised by several developers I spoke with at Tech Ed, and again in a recent MSDN article by Dr. James McCaffrey. He said that LINQ reduced the time it took him to write test procedures by 50 percent. He added that LINQ to SQL made his test code "much shorter, much cleaner, and therefore easier to create, modify, and maintain."
Of course, LINQ has many other benefits. It provides a single unified query language that can be used across multiple data sources including SQL and XML. It is integrated into the C# language, allowing you to harness the power of .NET and the Visual Studio IDE when writing queries. It is both transformative and composable, allowing you to combine queries from multiple data sources in myriad ways. It uses a succinct and elegant declarative style of programming, and it is extensible so that you can run LINQ queries against any arbitrary data source. Yet sometimes it is simplest just to think of LINQ as a fast, elegant way to get a lot of work done quickly. In this day and age when we are all struggling to work with huge amounts of data, and to complete complex tasks in a short period of time, anything that will simplify our lives is welcome. LINQ is one of those things that just makes it easier to get work done quickly.