Microsoft Donates RIA Services Code to Outercurve Foundation

Microsoft announced the donation of its RIA Services code to the open-source Outercurve Foundation to launch a new Open RIA Services project.

Microsoft donated its RIA Services codebase to the open-source community to help launch a new Outercurve Foundation open-source project called “Open RIA Services.”

Open RIA Services will simplify the development of cross-platform ASP.NET applications for the Web and be supported by community involvement, Microsoft said. The Outercurve Foundation is an open-source foundation that provides IP management and governance to open-source software (OSS) projects and open-source developers.

RIA Services is a framework for building line-of -business and other n-tier applications. It provides the client/server interactions that are necessary to deliver rich desktop-like functionality. The project enables developers to write business logic on the familiar ASP.NET platform and reuse the same code for “thick” client user interfaces such as Silverlight or HTML5 applications.

Microsoft announced what it initially called .NET RIA Services at its now-defunct MIX conference in 2009. In a blog post from back then, Brad Abrams, formerly a high-ranking Microsoft Web developer and now a product manager at Google, said, “The RIA Services provides a pattern to write application logic that runs on the mid-tier and controls access to data for queries, changes and custom operations. It also provides end-to-end support for common tasks such as data validation, authentication and roles by integrating with Silverlight components on the client and ASP.NET on the mid-tier.”

The project allows developers to spend more time focusing on their own application requirements and less time implementing communication protocols between the client and server due to the unit-of-work operations and deep validation functionality. RIA Services automatically composes libraries for each tier of the applications, such as client, server and tooling.

Microsoft said the server-side libraries provide prescriptive patterns for business logic classes to communicate with data access libraries to define validation rules that apply on both the server and the client. The client-side libraries provide the underlying capabilities for the application client to communicate with the server and build the unit-of-work that will be sent to the server. The tooling libraries perform code generation to expose the server side entities and operations to the client with a rich and domain-specific programming model.

Meanwhile, the Open RIA Services open-source community has already created a road map of bug fixes, enhancements and new releases for the project. Colin Blair, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) who has focused on RIA Services for several years, is serving as the project leader, Outercurve officials said.

“With Open RIA Services, we have a three-version road map planned out,” Blair said in a statement. “While the first version will primarily focus on bug fixes and minor features, the next two major versions will bring significant changes, including an emphasis on cross-platform clients. We aim to provide a smooth transition to Open RIA Services from Microsoft’s WCF RIA Services. Microsoft’s donation of the RIA Services codebase is really what makes Open RIA Services possible.” The project road map is available on the project Website.

Jeff Handley, Microsoft’s development lead for WCF RIA Services and NuGet—another Outercurve Foundation open-source project, is managing Microsoft’s contributions to Open RIA Services, the company said.

“The RIA Services community has been clamoring for the project to become open-source, and it’s a relief to finally be able to deliver on it,” Handley said in a statement.

In a blog post from July, Handley announced that RIA Services was being open-sourced and would be donated to Outercurve.

“Microsoft will collaborate with the Open RIA Services project to ensure it gets off to a strong start and developers are able to successfully transition if desired,” Handley said in the post.