Microsoft made available for download on December 9 a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of "Astoria," the technology now officially known as ADO.Net Data Services.
Pablo Castro, Technical Lead on ADO.Net, has taken to describing Astoria as "a REST interface for data." Astoria is designed to enable applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by Web clients within a corporate network and across the Internet. Astoria is one component of Microsoft’s “data-in-the-cloud” strategy.
As former Softie Alex Barnett explains -- in somewhat more layperson-like terms:
"Astoria is also the codename for an incubation project started some months ago attempting to answer the following questions: if you could provide a dead-simple way of programming against a relational data store that resides on the internet, what should the programming model look like? Could it be simpler than SOAP-based data access programming?"
(By the way, if you want to understand the real reason that enterprise software/topics aren't as sexy as consumer ones, Astoria is a great example of why. It's relatively easy to understand what a cell phone is/does. It's much harder to explain to average folks why they should care about a programming model for a relational store on the Web. The majority of folks writing about technology want to write the easier/sexier/more clickable stories.)
Rant over. Back to sexy Astoria.
Microsoft made the newest Astoria CTP available as part of a broader set of "ASP.Net 3.5 Extensions" that the company is planning to add to ASP.Net 3.5 and ADO.Net. While Microsoft's Data Programmability team rolled out a couple of previous CTP releases (in May 2007 and September 2007) of Astoria, the December build is "the first CTP of the production version of Astoria." According to a post on the Astoria team blog:
"We call this the first CTP because all the releases of Astoria prior to this point were based on a prototype code base which we used to iterate very quickly and explore the requirements of data services on the web. As we discussed in previous blog posts and in our online forums, we have since started from scratch, engineering the product from the ground up using the lessons and requirements learned from our proof of concept releases."
At the November Strategic Architect Forum held in Redmond, the Astoria team shared its roadmap for the technology. The team said to expect an official "beta" of Astoria in early 2008, with the final release pegged for mid-2008.
Does Astoria sound useful to any of you Web developers out there?