Saturday, July 4, 2009

Learning RIA Services: It's Great to be a Silverlight Developer

I have built WCF integrations to SQL Server as part of building Silverlight applications. Having created the basic elements of a CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) using WCF (see Tim Heuer's blog on how to do this ), I had to ask myself if there wasn't a way to achieve the same result that required less code.

During MIX09 I saw Brad Adams' talks on .NET RIA Services (watch Brad Adams talk). On 3 separate occasions I worked through these examples until I began to understand how all the parts fit together. My basic feeling was that although these services are very powerful, they made a lot of assumptions about how I wanted to collect and consume the data. Too much magic going on behind the scenes for my purposes. Using the beta release of RIA Services, according to all the demos I could find on line, there was no way to loop through the returned records without binding it to the control.

The Problem Statement

I wanted to find out what I was doing wrong. Is there a way to just loop over the records returned from RIA services without binding to a control? I asked the question on Stack Overflow and in the Silverlight forums.

The Community to the Rescue

If I knew the answer, I would have asked a better question. Isn't that always the case? The members of the developer community offered answers to my ill-formed question:

No one gave me the exact answer. There was no code provided that I could just cut and paste, but I got great response in hours and their insight led me to the answer I was looking for:

Not long after I starting working on this problem, Silverlight 3 was released. RIA services have changed and I have not had time to investigate, but once I do I will add a new post.

It is Great to be a Silverlight Developer

I have been writing software since I was 18; I would have started sooner if I had access to a computer. Looking back over my 30+ years of programming, I am now having more fun than ever, and I think it is because of the times we live in -- Silverlight, the Internet, and the community of people who use them both. Silverlight has turned web applications into a rich and now, with OOB, sometimes even unconnected experience. Today's development culture is one of generosity and sharing. I am in contact with people around the world, Silverlight gurus and novices alike, and they all love to share. You get the sense that we are all looking to see how much we can accomplish together with Silverlight.

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