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Microsoft Introduces .Net RIA Services

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Yesterday, Microsoft released .Net RIA Services which used to be called the "Alexandria" project, which was mostly in stealth mode until now. In his presentation at MIX 09, Nikhil Kothari, a Software Architect at Microsoft, commented:

 n-tier development and architecture is hard and un-natural. Our goal is to bring ASP.NET / RAD style productivity to RIA development

Nikhil's team is focusing on end-to-end scenarios and solutions. He explained that there are a lot of problems common to all solutions such as handling errors, or supporting off-line operations. With SilverLight, some of the presentation layer business logic moves back from the server to client. .Net RIA services is about simplifying this process as this type of architecture creates redundant code, for instance domain validation rules.

Nikhil demonstrated how the .Net RIA team added metadata to the programming model to create Data Transfer Objects from Domain Objects. The programming model does not require that the DTO classes be explicit. Data is directly marshaled from the domain objects to the presentation layer based on the metadata definition.

Dinesh Kulkari commented on his blog:

in the good tradition of the LINQ project, we also have a great walkthrough in the MSI and a good set of quick starts on the download page.

With SilverLight, Microsoft is reclaiming the "client" space which Web applications had commoditized. RIAs and the technologies built to support them are returning the center of gravity of innovation from the server to the desktop. This time around, product managers understand that RIAs will only be rich if the "clientr" programming model is aligned with the one of the "server", unlike in the 90s. .Net RIA Services is only a preview and the team is working towards an aggressive set of features to help developers focus on Domain and Application logic, not the plumbing. 

The .Net RIA Services Preview can be downloaded here. We will publish an interview with Nikhil Kothari in a couple of weeks.

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