Testers give Microsoft's Entity Framework a no-confidence vote

Testers give Microsoft's Entity Framework a no-confidence vote

Summary: A number of testers who've been dabbing with the first version of Microsoft's ADO.Net Entity Framework are unhappy with the direction Microsoft has taken with the technology -- so much so that they've created a "no confidence vote" petition to make their gripes public.

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A number of testers who've been dabbing with the first version of Microsoft's ADO.Net Entity Framework are unhappy with the direction Microsoft has taken with the technology -- so much so that they've created a "no confidence vote" petition to make their gripes public.

As of June 24, more than 150 testers had signed the petition, including several Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs).

The ADO.Net Entity Framework is a layer of technology that originally was slated to be part of Visual Studio 2008. Microsoft ended up cutting the Entity Framework out of its tool suite, promising to make it part of the first service pack for .Net Framework 3.5.

(Here's how Microsoft defines ADO.Net Entity Framework: The framework "allows developers to define a higher-level Entity Data Model over their relational data, and then program in terms of this model.  Concepts like inheritance, complex types and relationships (including M:M support) can be modeled using it. VS 2008 SP1 now includes built-in designer support to help with this modeling.")

Microsoft isn't dropping the controversial Entity Framework Version 1 in spite of tester complaints. Instead, the company is committing to making some feature adjustments and some process changes -- designed to make the development of Version 2 of the framework more transparent and more agile. Version 2 of the Entity Framework is expected to be incorporated into the next version of Visual Studio (whenever that hits).

Timothy Mallalieu, Program Manager for the Entity Framework, acknowledged the no-confidence vote and outlined Microsoft's subsequent plan of action in a blog post.

"The unfortunate reality is that these are scenarios that we care deeply about but do not fully support in V1.0. I can go into some more detail here. One point to note is that the choice on these features were heavily considered but we had the contention between trying to add more features vs. trying to stay true to our initial goal which was to lay the core foundation for a multiple-release strategy for building out a broader data platform offering. Today, coincidentally, marked the start of our work on the next version of the product and we are determined to address this particular developer community in earnest while still furthering the investment in the overall data platform."

Roger Jennings, of OakLeaf Systems Blog fame, outlined for me where he believes the major pain points are in Entity Framework version 1:

1. Domain-driven design (objects-first) is today's hot design pattern for enterprise apps and requires starting with optimal design of business objects and relationships, not from the schema of a relational database whose only job is to persist (store) the objects. Microsoft has always had a data-centric (data-first), forms-over-data approach to pseudo business objects. Data-first can lead to suboptimal business object design.

2. Persistence ignorance requires Plain Old CLR Object (POCO) because it enables separation of concerns, which is de rigeur in today's layered/tiered software designs. (Persistence ignorance won't be part of the Entity Framework until Version 2, Jennings noted.)

3. Test-driven design (TDD). MSFT came late to the TDD and Agile Programming table and is trying to catch up. However, no one on the Entity Framework team worried about testability during the design phase. The problem is that performance of unit tests with business objects connected to databases is terrible.

Another Entity Framework tester, who requested anonymity, noted that the no confidence vote shouldn't be interpreted as across-the-board dissatisfaction among .Net developers with Microsoft's course.

"The best thing that happened in response to this latest action is that the Entity Framework team responded to it immediately," the tester said.

Topics: Software Development, Data Centers, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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15 comments
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  • Sounds like the testers and MS are doing good work

    [i]The best thing that happened in response to this latest action is that the Entity Framework team responded to it immediately[/i]

    Good for the testers for demanding better, and good for MS for responding immediately. This is the only way that things will improve. Good for MJ for creating a headline that will surely get a lot of ABM responses from people who have no idea what any of this actually means. 3-2-1... GO! :)
    NonZealot
    • Counting responses so far...

      NBMers - 1
      AMBers - 0

      Looks like the numbers aren't supporting you so far.
      jasonp@...
  • RE: Testers give Microsoft's Entity Framework a no-confidence vote

    Mary-Jo,

    I'm the principal author of the open letter to Microsoft in regards to the ADO .NET Entity Framework and our Vote of No Confidence.

    The signatories list represents leading developers, architects, and practice leads within the Microsoft community. The representation of the signatories as testers is misleading and inaccurate.

    We would appreciate an immediate retraction and correction of this misrepresentation.

    I would be happy to answer any further question you have about the letter, the issues with the ADO .NET Entity Framework that it outlines, as well as the history of the feedback and relationship between the community of experts and the Entity Framework team going back to April of 2007

    Thank you,
    Scott Bellware
    Microsoft MVP
    sbellware
    • testers

      Hi Scott.

      I used the word "testers" here because you are all "beta testers" of the ADO.Net Entity Framework. I understand that you are all members of the Microsoft developer community.

      Thanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • I'm not a tester

        I've never installed nor tested an Entity Framework beta, but I signed the vote of no confidence.
        odenni
        • I'll vote without info

          How can you vote on soemthing you haven't tried?
          Sparkley
    • Dude, its a waste of time

      MJO (never ever to be mistaken for JLO) would put a negative slant on the oxygen in Redmond, if she could actually see it; it would somehow be a too Microsoft-ish Oxygen. Most of the technologist that pay any attention to anything said on ZDNET don't really give any creditibility anymore to anything MJO says. Without any real insiders to tell MJO anything, one can only speculate to get headlines. Don't be offended. MJO can't not slant or spin everything MS any more than a snake can't not bite you. One is what one is. Once you expect it and see it as consistently as it is shown here, it won't bother you anymore. You just learn to disregard it.
      andrej770
    • That would require actual journalism.

      Scott, That would require real journalism and skills only a reporter would poses. Mary Jo just googles the would Microsoft and regurgitates whatever she fines.
      ea01bg
  • Why bother?

    Scott,

    These blog postings are not about accuracy or anything resembling that. It is about luring the many clueless AMB trolls that lurk on ZDnet looking for anything with "Microsoft" in the title. So your attempt at getting the blog corrected is most likely going to be fruitless.

    The headline has been posted. Trolls are gathering. That is all that counts.

    On the other hand, the very first post did probably fend off some of the trolls, as they were made aware of the fact that they'd look stupid for commenting on this story anyway.

    What a screwed up blog this turned out to be...
    Qbt
    • Don't Blame The Messenger

      A vote of no confidence is a vote of no confidence. Don't blame Mary Jo for Microsoft bungling.

      Just because your in love with Microsoft doesn't mean others can't report the facts. You act like a jilted lover.

      Sheesh!
      chessmen
      • You should say to blame REAL messenger.

        MJO is not a messenger. She's the spin doctor. Anything for a headline. Anything to get attention one can't otherwise get in any spectrum of life. :-)
        andrej770
  • RE: Testers give Microsoft's Entity Framework a no-confidence vote

    Thanks for the clarification, Mary-Jo.

    I hope to see this clarification reflected in the title and the body of this article.
    sbellware
  • RE: Testers give Microsoft's Entity Framework a no-confidence vote

    There are a substantial number of us, outside Microsoft, who are (a) as experienced in these matters as Scott and the signatories, (b) feel that Entity Framework v.1 is a good choice for many customers (issues not withstanding) and (c) believe the petitioners overstate their case.
    <br/></br>I'm of this camp and you can see what I think in my <a href="http://is.gd/F9k">blog post</a>.
    <br/></br>I note with amusement the comment from "odenni" who will never be tainted with the "tester" label because he boldly signed the anti-EF petition having never tried it. The word "clueless" comes to mind.<br/></br>
    However, we should not let the strange hangers-on distract us from the serious concerns raised by Scott and friends. They score points ... but I do not share their conclusions.
    wardb
  • What's up with this???

    Why does a two year old post about a non-issue (oooooo ... V1.0 of software needs more work?) get on the "Today's Must Read" list??

    Now, if you'd followed up with info on the changes to Entity Framework and how that's changed developer acceptance - or not - that might have been a relevant story.
    aureolin
  • RE: Testers give Microsoft's Entity Framework a no-confidence vote

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