If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll probably remember my pithy blog post where I stated that "It all depends..." to the question "Which Data Access Should I Use for Silverlight 3?" The reality is that much like the similar question I am confronted with at user groups for the past decade ("What data access should I use in my .NET app?"). The reasons for picking a strategy are wide and varied so I will not try to analyze all possible outcomes, but I think the different strategies need to be explained better.
The three major candidates in Silverlight 3 are Web Services (WCF/ASMX), ADO.NET Data Services and RIA Services. In any situation, any of these will work. But they are suited to different styles and requirements. Here's the abridged differences between the stacks:
I've been looking at RIA Services for a long time now. I had the lucky pleasure of being given early access to the bits for what was then called "Alexandria". As most readers of this blog have read, I have had some issues with how RIA Services works. In the mean time Brad Abrams and the team have certainly responded and have made changes to the way that RIA Services works and much of it is for the better. I can see pretty simply how you can use RIA Services to build applications that are really architected well, with true separation of concerns. But there is blood in the water.
The goal of Project Niagara is to democratize the validation support. The project wants to help developers add validation support to ADO.NET Data Services as well as Web Services in Silverlight. In addition, it has the goal of allowing multiple ways to supply the validation metadata to the different data access strategies. As it is my opinion that there are scenarios where attributes are not the best idea.
As RIA Services is plodding towards a release, many people are looking at it to help them with validation of data in Silverlight. Using this validation in Silverlight 3 is pretty straightforward but there are some caveats. I want to show you under the covers so you understand what is happening. In this first part of the series, let's look at what it means to use validation from the outside.
Back when Dynamic Data was being developed, a set of attributes was created to help tell the Dynamic Data folks about validation and other metadata so they could create smart scaffolds. These include:
As regular readers of my blog know (RIA Services Concerns Squashed), I have been a lukewarm supporter of RIA Services for Silverlight. As many of you know, Brad Abrams and company have come through with their latest release (RIA Services Preview July '09) with lots of changes I've been hoping for. Honestly I haven't had time to look at the new build (probably this weekend), but I am hopeful of its overall direction. I am still somewhat tentitive about some of the basic behavior of the framework but I will hold my tongue until I have more time to dive deeper into the code.
What really concerns me is that I've talked to students and others and many are opting to building systems with RIA Services right now. This only concerns me because RIA Services is not part of Silverlight 3 and is not released. Actually, the July version is a "Preview" (something like a CTP) which means they haven't even reached Beta with RIA Services. Now many these developers are working on very long time lines and can wait until RIA Services releases, but while investigating it makes a lot of sense (and I encourage everyone do that), building production code against a framework that is still in transition is a risky venture in my opinion.
It all depends...
If you've never had the chance to visit my sister site (http://www.silverlightdata.com), now's a good time. I've updated my examples there to include my MVVM, Prism and Declarative UI examples (to go with the skinning/switchable Astoria example). Take a look if you're doing Silverlight data-based applications.
I've said much about my opinion of Silverlight data access. Currently this is Web Services, WCF Data Services and WCF RIA Services. Let's talk about Data Services and RIA Services and how they are related:
WCF Data Services
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