Mark Quirk in our team is a top chap - he is also over at TechEd in Barcelona this week and has just sent back a great report. I don't think Mark blogs so I have taken the liberty of posting on a slightly edited version. Well worth a read. Thanks Mark.

The event info can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/europe/teched-developers/.  The link seems to direct you straight to the onsite video news reporting, much of which is lead by our very own Paul Foster :-) (me thinks cable tv beckons)

Marks report:

Stepping back a little (not easy to do in the typically detailed sessions) the magnitude of the new releases and technology coming along hits you (boing, thud).  Though not everything comes with the ‘by the end of November’ release of VS2008 and .NET Framework 3.5.

I’m struck by the big emphasis on working with data, specifically making it simpler for programmers to work with data without losing power and flexibility – here’s a sampling:

  • Language Integrated Query – Linq: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb397926(VS.90).aspx – gives .NET programmers a data query language.  “Surely, we’ve got one of these” I hear and yes we do via ADO.NET for example.  And with ADO.NET you typically write SQL queries and send them over to your database which looks at them and decides if it wants to execute them or not.  Linq brings the knowledge of queries right into your programming language.  (Hmmm, strange, I find myself convinced that Linq is great, but it isn’t terribly easy to describe why it’s so great in a sentence or two - it just is, so there ;-)
  • With the Microsoft Sync Framework: http://msdn.microsoft.com/sync we’re making it easier to write applications that work both online and offline; using a copy of the ‘server’ data when offline and synchronising it when connected.  This is key for many applications on the ‘Software’ side of our Software + Services strategy – its exactly what Outlook does for example when enabling you to read or write email whether you’re connected or not.

And in a future release by mid-cy 2008:

  • ADO.NET Entity Framework & Linq to Entities - one way of describing these is that the entity framework allows you to provide an understandable model of your data to program against, when in fact the real model is horrid and complex – a typical ‘enterprise’ issue.  This framework is also where we provide linq programming support for databases other than SQL Server.
  • Data services for the web (codename ‘Astoria’): http://astoria.mslivelabs.com/ is a way of providing a web ‘programming’ interface (actually simple HTTP calls) to data.  That way any application or web page can get and update data directly without database drivers or any database specific plumbing or goop; so even web pages using client side JavaScript running on windows/linux/mac/sinclar spectrum, whatever, can use the data.  We’re also experimenting with our own online service to host the data...  ‘data in the cloud’
  • And finally ASP.NET Dynamic Data controls are an new set of controls that automatically and dynamically build a web UI based on your database (even if you change the way your database looks, the controls are ‘dynamic’ so there’s no code required to pick up the changes)