Kicking off the evening was DevEvening’s Alex Mackey with his nugget on Microsoft’s modelling technology Oslo. He explained that with it still being early days in Oslo’s life there wasn’t a great deal that individuals could play with right now. Since Oslo’s primary objective is to model a domain it tied quite nicely into last months talk on DSLs when Alex explained why a developer might wish to use Oslo.
After injecting a bit of humour into his nugget with a slide about Barry he carried on to explain the different methodologies used by people to describe the behaviours of a system and that although each have their own merits there is no universal method of achieving this at present.
With much of the tooling for Oslo only available on the PDC hard drives Alex was quite restricted so opted to show us a few screenshots of Quadrant before diving into Intellipad where he was able to create a model and got it to produce the associated SQL script for storing the model. He followed this up by demonstrating writing a new language using Oslo to represent a deck of cards.
Alex then covered how to compile and use the MGrammar files in Visual Studio touching on the file format a little and how this enabled third party vendors to create tooling to consume these files. All in all this is was an information rich nugget which was delivered confidently and clearly.
After the swag & super swag handouts it was over to Microsoft’s Eric Nelson to talk about Entity Framework with a sneak peak of what’s to come in version 2. He started with what an ORM is and what is does, followed by some of the other contenders in the market place. He also highlighted the key benefit you get from them… database independence. It became apparent early on, that in the months since the ORM battle he had come to appreciate the Entity Framework a little more, selling some of it’s features above the others. With the pizza and cola ready for consumption it was time for a short break filled with the normal interesting chat before continuing with the Entity Framework.
To set the stage a bit more Eric spoke about how Entity Framework and Linq-to-SQL fit in the landscape, why Microsoft are pushing forward with EF, and how they are “dog food”ing it internally. Dropping into some code demos he showed the raw power of Linq-to-Entities, Entity SQL and the runtime engine, only pausing briefly to slate the design surface provided with v1. Eric then showed some of the performance points that users of EF would need to be aware of and how to get around them, and took a dive into the entity data model showing the storage, mapping and concept parts and how they could be separated and edited manually.
To wrap up he showed what’s to come in Entity Framework 2.0 when it ships with .NET 4.0 such as pluralisation, foreign keys and stored procedures. From what he was talking about the main advances in EFv2 are around the design surface, aiming to bring it on par with some of the third party tooling available today. The number of new features being added in EFv2 was quite impressive and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it. When fielding the questions from the audience Eric showed his understanding of the subject matter and delivered his answers with no waffle, only being stumped by the more complex queries posed about stored procedure return value support.