Data-Focused Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 SP1 Betas Released

On Monday Microsoft released the Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 beta bits for public download.

In addition to the usual performance enhancements, bug fixes and stability improvements, the SP1 betas offer widely anticipated data access technologies.

The .NET 3.5 service pack includes key components promised by Microsoft, namely the ADO.NET Entity Framework 1.0 and ADO.NET Data Services 1.0 (formerly code-named Astoria), a framework for building on-premise REST-based data services. 

Entity Framework first appeared in Orcas beta 1, then was quickly moved out of band just days after the beta release. The object relational mapping framework, based on the Entity Data Model, is still a work in progress. Some problems will not be addressed in EF version 1 such as "persistence ignorance," according to  Roger Jennings, developer and principal at OakLeaf Systems in Northern Calif.

"One issue has been resolved," Jennings commented in an interview today. "You can now pass complete entities across tiers with Windows Communication Foundation, which is an important feature that allows you to use Entity Framework components with Service Oriented Architecture."  VS2008 SP1 provides an Entity Framework Designer.

The .NET 3.5 Service Pack also includes LINQ to Entities, the LINQ data source for Entity Framework. "Everybody has been waiting for that," observed Jennings.

Developers will also get a better glimpse of tooling for ASP.NET Dynamic Data, the data scaffolding framework for building data-driven Web apps against a LINQ to SQL or LINQ to Entities data model. For compatibility with VS2008 SP1, Microsoft advised developers to download the latest version of ASP.NET Dynamic Data.

The VS2008 service pack is the first release to provide "full support" for SQL Server 2008, according to Microsoft. SQL Server 2008 is still in beta, with the final release slipping until the third quarter of this year. VS2008 SP1 supports the new Date and Time data types to LINQ to SQL but it doesn't have broad support for spatial data types, such as geometry or geology, according to Jennings. 

Other highlights include new functionality for the WPF designers, WCF, ASP.NET AJAX, Visual Studio Team System, C# and VB enhancements, the new MFC Office 2007 Ribbon and installation improvements such as the .NET Client Profile Setup tool.

The final releases of VS2008 SP1 and .NET 3.5 SP1 will be available this summer, according to a blog post by Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president for Microsoft's .NET Developer Division. Check out his post to get the complete laundry list of fixes, new technologies and tools in SP1, and to find out what you need to know before installing the beta.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards ([email protected]) is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.