Friday, 14 April 2006

On April 12th I presented Genome at Persistence Day in Karlsruhe, Germany which was organised by dotnetpro, a German .NET development publication. Persistence Day is quite interesting, as it is a full day event concentrating solely on two topics:

  • Object-relational mapping for .NET
  • Object-oriented databases for .NET

While the latter is more of a niche in today’s enterprise development market (still, quite an interesting one), there is a huge demand for object-relational access for the .NET platform. The event hosted nearly 200 people and was booked out quickly. The fact that a one-day event with a 99€ price tag that attracts only a regional audience (no one would travel further than a few hundred kilometres for it) was so rapidly booked out (and would have been so even if the event had been planned for 500 people, according to the organiser) amply demonstrates that the .NET developer community is starving for solutions to this problem.

Still, O/RM is an exotic thing on the .NET platform, while it is widely accepted in the Java world. When I attended a software architect workshop in Cortina this February with a group of Java and .NET architects, the Java people just yawned when O/RM topics were proposed for discussion. So how can it be that this topic is widespread on other development platforms but so underdeveloped in .NET?

I see two main reasons for that:

First of all, Microsoft contributes a lot to this situation. They announced Object Spaces twice (PDC 2001, PDC 2003) but never released it. Except at PDC (and on some rare occasions at TechEd), you will never hear about O/RM from Microsoft. It's very funny to read through Microsoft’s current Patterns & Practices chapter on “Designing Data Tier Components and Passing Data Through Tiers” without encountering the word “object-relational mapping” once. I understand that Microsoft does not endorse any specific products, but concealing an entire product category shows Microsoft's attitude to this topic quite well.

Another reason is the .NET development community itself. With few exceptions, many people are advocating against the use of O/RM. They already spoke against it some years ago and they still do. I don’t want to dispute their arguments here, but looking at the number of comments those people receive on their O/RM related posts clearly tells me what an important topic O/RM is for the .NET community after all.

Posted by Chris