Tech Ed 2007 Day 2: What a day! – ADO.NET Entities (EDM), LINQ, ASP.NET, and Data Mining, Performance Point, and a little WPF

  • Dynamic Languages

    There was supposed to be a chalk talk about this that John Lam was supposed to be at, but for some reason it got cancelled so I swung by their booth and had a good (but quick chat with them). It mostly involved talking about the DLR console written in Silverlight that is available. We talked about some of the challenges in trying to enable .NET on those languages while still allowing those languages to maintain the uniqueness that people like about them. In another discussion with the EDM folks (Entity Data Model or Entity Framework) they mentioned Jasper which is the codename for a project that allows dynamic languages to take advantage of the Entity framework (think a combination of NHibernate and Rails) such that you get NHibernate type of ORM mapping and when coupled with the ASP.NET Dynamic Data Control (which literally is a one line definition of the control) you create a complete web interface for administering your data. The reasoning behind this effort is to enable dynamic languages but without requiring the early binding that languages like C# do. The scenario presented was that you would pass a connection string to a method that connected to the DB and would pull back all the tables, etc… in your DB and allow you to program to them (remember you don’t have to have pre-defined them in languages like Python, Ruby, etc…) without them being explicitly created.

    As one of the MS guys said they have felt the pulse of the community around dynamic languages and are working to support the movement by the development community in that area.

  • ADO.Net Entities (EDM)

     

    This topic is covered extensively in Internet articles and so I will just highlight a couple of points – EDM will ship "out of band" from Orcas perhaps sometime March 2008. It represents an ORM-like implementation similar to NHibernate – I am not an NHibernate expert so I can’t comment on what is different etc…, but I would imagine that most of the major NHibernate capabilities are covered with some of the edge cases (or perhaps many) not covered which will likely cause great commotion when it comes out as people like their edge cases and get upset when they are not covered.

     

    Perhaps the one scenario that really stood out here is the opportunity to leverage this defined Entity Framework in other places. The example that comes to mind is in the Adhoc reporting arena. Say that you create an object model and use that in your apps that you write and then you maintain a report model (whether you do that for SQL Reporting Services or the Universe concept that Business Objects uses). Well now you have two models to maintain – which if you want them to be two is good, but if you don’t (and I would suggest that as often as you don’t want them to be the same you do want them to be the same) then that is bad. Well now if Reporting Services leverages the Entity Framework you can expose that model to both your programming and adhoc reporting users. I plan on dropping by the SQL Server Reporting Services booth and raising my voice that I want this type of integration.

     

  • LINQ and ASP.NET Dynamic Data Control

     

    Full disclosure – I love LINQ – it is really cool – I would like to excuse that by the fact that I like SQL as well, but the more I am around it the more I am convinced that it is not just me – LINQ is just cool. LINQ is well known so I won’t spend much more time on that – the Dynamic Data Control I referenced above in the Dynamic Language discussion, but in short it allows you to in one line define the control and map it to the Linq model that it will use to inspect your DB and then spit out the relevant web pages. It gives you an abstraction layer such that you don’t have to adhere to design/naming rules like Rails requires (I am not a Rails expert so if I am butchering things on Rails I apologize). The one thing I don’t know is if you have control over the styling of the output of the dynamic data control – I would hope so, but I don’t know for sure.

     

  • The guy does great talks – I wonder if the guys that work for him get mad because he gets to do all the cool demos? I think it is awesome that someone so senior still codes. I have the same kind of respect for Brian Harry as well. Not knowing them personally or how the people who work under them feel I guess it is an opinion from afar, but senior people who have to handle the management and technical together and seem to be staying on top of it are impressive to me.

     

  • Performance Point

    With KPIs available in Excel 2007, Analysis Services, SharePoint, and now in PerformancePoint (and I don’t know, but probably ProClarity as well) MS obviously needs to do some consolidation. From talks with them I think they realize that – one of the key messages to take away is if your KPIs are in Analysis Services then everybody seems them so at least there is a convergence point within the technology stack. We have been looking for a dashboarding type tool – I know that there are tons out there, but with the technology we have available to us due to MS licensing already PerformancePoint begins to look appealing. It is definitely something that we are going to take a longer look at when we get back from the Conference.

     

  • Data Mining

    I went to several Data Mining sessions two years ago and am revisiting them today – not much has changed in the server landscape and they haven’t said anything about changes coming in SQL Server 2008, but they did release Data Mining Extensions for the Office platform (2007) and they demo’d the Excel plug-in – it was very impressive and made it easy to running data mining algorithms across Excel data – the wizard that is used does a good job of hiding the complexities and enabling you to just get at the Data Mining results.

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