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Orcas and SilverLight Betas Debut
by Bill McCarthy

June 13, 2007

Visual Studio Orcas Beta 1 is now available. Beta 1 is not feature complete; you'll have to wait until at least Beta 2 before Microsoft gets close to that milestone. The documentation is improved compared to the March CTP, and Beta 1 provides support for other items such as the SilverLight tools, Entity Framework tools, as well as the Jasper and Astoria downloads.


Download Beta 1 from http://tinyurl.com/2oeabv and the VB and C# 101 LINQ samples from http://tinyurl.com/357a8r.

If you are an MSDN subscriber you can also download from the MSDN Subscriber site. The MSDN Subscriber downloads are as ISO images, but be aware they are larger than what will fit on a standard DVD (you'll need a dual layer). However, you can mount the images using a virtual DVD drive tool like Daemon tools (http://tinyurl.com/7nx83) or MagicDisc (http://tinyurl.com/b3295).

The Entity Framework team announced a schedule change for the Entity Framework tools: The tools are no longer scheduled to be released with Orcas; rather, they will be released later in the first half of 2008. This is most likely going to coincide with the release of SQL Server 2008 (Katmai), which features the Entity Framework in its datasheet. The good news is that work surrounding the Entity Framework, unlike its predecessors (Object Spaces, WinFS), seems firmly entrenched, and it gives us all a couple more months to digest LINQ and LINQ to SQL before diving into the more complex Entity Framework.

To use the Entity Framework in Orcas Beta 1 you'll need to download the updated wizard from http://tinyurl.com/353ltv. Note that I've found I need to have projects saved in a file path that is as short as possible for the designer to work, such as C:\Test1.

The Jasper and Astoria CTPs are a pair of interesting downloads based on the Entity Framework. The Jasper CTP (http://tinyurl.com/35zdwl) provides dynamic data layer generation and data binding: The focus is on "quick and clean data access for Rapid Application Development." A key part of Jasper is the Dynamic Language Runtime (Python, VB, and JScript). The initial announcements caused some confusion as to which version of "VB" was being referred to as "dynamic" or VBX. The answer is Visual Basic .Net 10.

The Astoria CTP also builds upon the Entity Framework to build data services that are available over regular HTTP using standard HTTP verbs GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE to retrieve, create, update, and delete entities. (http://tinyurl.com/34w939)

SilverLight has also been released as a 1.0 Beta and a 1.1 Alpha. 1.0 supports only Jscript coding; 1.1 adds support for cross platform .NET coding (for Mac and Windows, at present).

The SilverLight .Net framework is a much smaller factored framework than the entire .NET framework. You need to download several items to get a good sense of this piece of technology, including the Orcas Beta 1 (http://tinyurl.com/2oeabv); SilverLight 1.1 Alpha runtime (http://tinyurl.com/3a3dq5); SilverLight tools for Orcas (http://tinyurl.com/2mg6lp); and Expression Blend 2 May CTP (http://tinyurl.com/3yzykh). You might also want to install the SilverLight SDK (http://tinyurl.com/2py2uw), which provides documentation and samples, as well as the ASP.NET Future tools (http://tinyurl.com/33cruh).

About the Author
Bill McCarthy is one of the foremost .NET language experts specializing in Visual Basic. He has been a Microsoft MVP for VB for more than eight years and interacts regularly with the Visual Basic development team, where he sits in on internal development reviews and helps to steer the language's future direction. He is an independent consultant based in Australia. Read his blog at http://msmvps.com/bill.

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