Continuing on its self-proclaimed quest to simplify the programming of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), Microsoft has rolled out a first tech preview of its .Net RIA Services technology.
.Net RIA Services, codenamed "Alexandria," can be described as "RAD (rapid application development) for RIA," said .Net Developer Platform Software Architect Nikhil Kothari in a blog post on the subject. Microsoft officials took the official wraps off .Net RIA Services at the company's Mix '09 Web development conference in Las Vegas last week.
.Net RIA Services is designed to bridge Microsoft's ASP.Net platform, its Silverlight Flash competitor and (ultimately) its Azure cloud-computing infrastructure, Kothari explained. The .Net RIA Services technology will be able to take advantage of Silverlight 3's "out of the browser" functionality, allowing users to still work in offline and intermittently connected scenarios.
The overarching goal of .Net RIA Services is to bring together the .Net programming model with Silverlight by allowing developers to write middle-tier application logic that controls access to data for queries, changes and custom operations. Kothari explained more in his March 20 blog post:
"As we looked at Silverlight planning, we realized RIA development is simply hard. There are too many moving pieces to manually stitch together between the client and the server. There are too many things that are un-natural, yet the norm, starting with the forced n-tier (many developers are used to writing 2-tier apps), async (when sync is the norm), dealing with latency (doing so incorrectly has the potential to break end-user experience), figuring out how to be less chatty, dealing with validation, conflicts, disconnected or occasionally connected scenarios, performing authentication and sharing user state across client and server, the list goes on and on...
"We wanted to simplify RIA development... and bring back productivity for mainstream development, in much the same way that ASP.NET 1.0 provided client app developers a productive platform for developing Web apps. The pendulum has swung, and it is time to simplify RIA-style client development."
The downloadable March Community Technology Preview of .Net RIA Services is available now.
From what you've seen and heard so far about RIA Services for .Net, what do you think of Microsoft's latest RIA programming concept and approach?