I don't know if the presentation has yet occurred at MIX07, but the latest offering from Microsoft's data programmability team is now visible on the web. This is the thing I saw at the preview, "SDR" a few weeks ago.
For a while now they've been developing an entity-relationship data model (as I've remarked on here more than once - this stuff grew from the remnants of WinFS) plus query language(s). On the other hand, the web's a little hard to ignore. Join the two together, you have (codename) Astoria :
Astoria exposes "data services" that enable applications to access and manipulate data over regular HTTP connections, using URIs to identify pieces of information within the data service, and simple payload formats such as XML and JSON to represent the data exchanged between the client and the server.
What they've got is in many respects isomorphic to some of the Semantic Web technologies we all know and love. It's closest to the scruffy RDF as simple data model approach, I doubt you'll find the word ontology mentioned anywhere. This is all designed to mesh well with Microsoft's existing programming and data tools, and points of direct contact between Astoria and the W3C semweb specs are a little limited. It would be easy to see this as MS doing semweb in their own proprietary fashion.
But , I don't think that's a useful way of viewing this development. They've totally gone to town on URIs and HTTP access - very much leaning towards REST. What's exposed is proper web stuff. There's a fair bit of innovation there that looks useful, it'll be interesting to see what RESTafarian gurus make of it. So the insides will be good for MS-heads - great, anything that encourages building web-friendly services has to be a good thing.
Focus on data, not on formats
Astoria uses minimalistic formats to represent data, and supports more than one format to accommodate as many client agents as possible.
The default representation format is XML. This is not a specific format; it is a fixed mapping of the entity structure to XML elements, with some added semantics to make use of the information provided by the EDM schema.
(From the Overview, MS doc format)
For developers there's a "Community Tech Preview" to download and an experimental online service. Although this stuff is still all early access, I think we might soon see some very interesting services coming from the MS community.
Thanks again to Alex Barnett for getting me invited to the SDR (as well as MIX, though I declined because of its proximity to WWW2007).
PS. Alex has an overview walk-through including the novel query-in-URI trick, and has also posted a video interview with Pablo, along with links to to various responses. Shelley has a wrap-up of the various announcements at MIX.Â ( I'm with Shelley an John Musser on this, despite the blogosphere response, Astoria and the dynamic language material is all far more interesting than Silverfish, and mid/long term could have a much greater impact).@en