SQL Server 2008 and occasionally connected client support

For those of you that don’t already know, SQL Server 2008 was released last week. It has been a long wait, and as soon as the .NET framework 3.5 SP1 has been released for Visual Studio 2008 (later today), developers can then start to program against this new SQL server version. I will be adopting SQL 2008 immediately, as there is a plethora of goodness which I will blog about in the forthcoming weeks and months, including the new reporting services.

One key feature introduced (especially for n tier applications) is the ability to have a SQL database – “local” or in “the cloud” – populate a local SQL Compact Edition (CE) database with information that scarcely changes, or does so every once in a while. Think of a suppliers or employees table in a database. These are commonly used as lookup tables, that are frequently used in applications, so the ability to cache them locally then synchronise them when something changes or when the application re-connects back to the cloud, does really improve performance, and reduce the amount of hits on the database server.

This should all happen in the data access layer (if your application is well architected) so does not matter whether you use Windows Forms or WPF. This outlines for me why for business applications one certainly wants to elect disconnected datasets as opposed to “new kids on the block” Linq to SQL and ADO.NET Entity Framework ORM’s. It will be some time before this type of support is available as Linq to SQL Compact is currently unsupported.

To see how this works, a short and concise screencast is available here that is well worth a look. The SQL compact team have almost made it too easy, visual studio integration is fabulous, making utilising the new change tracking feature available in SQL Server 2008 a breeze.

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