I've been sort of under a rock for a while, but I thought I'd come out for a minute to celebrate. Today we made available .NET 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1. There are two components in the release I spent a bunch of time on, which interestingly enough have very different origins and get to RTM through very different processes. One is the ADO.NET Entity Framework, which has been cooking for several years and survived controversies, comparisons with non-shipped previous attempts and other natural disasters; the other one is the ADO.NET Data Services Framework or Project Astoria, which was built, well...fast.

I won't go into details of the release, folks have discussed the Astoria, Entity Framework and general data-related features in the release already.

Why have I been under a rock? In the last few months I've been spending time working on various things related to Astoria, online services and data interfaces. Some I can discuss, some will need to wait a bit until the stakeholders are comfortable to talk about it publicly.

Moving Astoria as a framework forward: we were ready (modulo bug fixing and last minute tweaks) some time ago, and we've been thinking about the next steps for the Astoria framework. In Mix 08 we mentioned that we were working on "Astoria Offline" and showed a prototype. We've been working hard in that topic. There is also a bunch of features we want to take on for the next release. I'm sure we'll post something in the Astoria blog at some point about our thinking and give a change for folks to give feedback.

Online services: as you can imagine there is a number of things going on around online services these days, and a number of them involve Astoria one way or the other. I've been working with several of them, varying from providing guidance all the way to writing custom "v.next" versions of Astoria to experiment with their needs. An example of these efforts is the work we're doing to align SQL Server Data Services and the ADO.NET Data Services framework. We would like to see them as the "service" and the "framework" pieces, both using the same HTTP interface, same client interfaces, etc., so we've been spending a bunch of time exploring how to bring them together.

Anyway, there, a bit of a celebration.

-pablo