Microsoft Announces Sync Framework

Early this week, Microsoft officials announced the first community technology preview (CTP) of the Microsoft Sync Framework. Developers can use the Sync Framework to create applications and services that enable collaboration and offline data management, according to Anthony Carrabino, senior product manager for SQL Server.

Applications built with the Sync Framework can easily synchronize any kind of data with any other kind of system, he added. The Synch Framework will work with servers, peer-to-peer connections, or even a jump drive. Moreover, very little code is needed by the developer to enable it.

Microsoft has used a similar kind of synchronization capability with applications such as its Outlook e-mail and scheduling software. Outlook synchronizes with Microsoft Exchange Server, but the process is transparent to the user. However, for developers to do that sort of synchronization with other applications can be difficult, and that's what's so important about Microsoft's new Sync Framework, Carrabino explained.

"We've had to create synchronization technologies for various applications," Carrabino said. "And we've realized, 'Wow, this is hard stuff.' And every time you do this, it requires resources -- a lot of time and energy to do this right. So rather than having to roll your own synchronization on every technology you develop, we realized we needed a real synchronization framework -- not just for us, but for developers too."

The Sync Framework removes all of the boundaries with the data you are trying to synchronize, he added. You can use any kind of transport call with it. And you don't have to have a particular network configuration to support synchronization.

With the Sync Framework, developers don't have to roll their own synchronization technologies into every application, he added. The Sync Framework is reusable and extensible, so, as a developer builds one solution, he can use the same synchronization technology for another application.

Currently, Microsoft Visual Studio enables synchronization via offline scenarios, where data are cached to the local machine. However, doing that takes some coding and work on part of the developer. The Sync Framework promises to automate this effort. It will enable rapid development on "Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, NTFS file systems and removable drives," according to Microsoft literature.

"What the Sync Framework does is it takes it to another level," Carrabino said. "It says, 'We're not only going to take your data offline -- we're going to enable the developer to synchronize the data back up to the server automatically, without initial code.' And then if the server in the background is SQL Server 2008, and they have change tracking enabled, now the data can be synchronized automatically, with no code changes whatsoever to the back end either."

Carrabino added that the Sync Framework is not just for databases.

"We really want people to understand that this is a general purpose synchronization framework that can handle any kind of data," he said.

The Sync Framework can support other platforms besides Microsoft Windows too. However, at this point, at the CTP level, Microsoft is just looking at getting feedback from other companies on the technology, Carrabino said.

More information on Microsoft Sync Framework can be found here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.