Microsoft posted for download on November 4 a first test build of what it's calling the Microsoft Sync Framework, technology that will allow developers to take their Web services and databases offline.
The new framework also provides P2P synchronization of "any type of file including contacts, music, videos, images and settings," according to Microsoft's download site. The framework provides built-in support for synchronizing relational databases, NTFS/FAT file systems and Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS/ATOM, according to Microsoft.
The WinBeta.org site posted links to the Microsoft Sync Framework, as well as to related white papers and other synchronization documentation on November 4.
Microsoft rival Google fielded earlier this year a browser-extension technology known as Google Gears that allows offline access to typically online services.
Microsoft has been working on a number of synchronization-specific projects for some time, including a sync platform code-named Ibiza and/or Harmonica. M
icrosoft officials did not respond by the time this post was published to my question as to whether Ibiza and the forthcoming Sync Framework were the same. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the Sync Framework is Ibiza/Harmonica.
Based on descriptions posted by Microsoft to its download site, the new framework will enable collaboration and offline capabilities for any application. It will roam and share information from "any data store, over any protocol, and over any network configuration," according to the company. Microsoft has built and is making available to interested testers a reusable provider for synchronizing the contents of file system directories on PCs and removable media, such as USB thumb drives, according to the Web site.
The new sync framework seems to have something to do with the Sync Services for ADO.Net technology that Microsoft has been developing to support "occasionally connected applications. As Microsoft explains in a white paper on the ADO.Net sync services that it has made available for download:
"The advantage of a synchronization-based solution is that users are no longer required to have a constant network connection to access their information. Since their data is stored locally they are given constant access to their data while offloading processing requirements from the central database. Furthermore, the user is no longer limited by the network speed and can now access the data at the speed of the device. "
The forthcoming Microsoft Sync Framework will work with Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Service pack 3. No word yet on when the Softies plan to release the final version of the framework or how they plan to package/distribute it.