Microsoft has donated the RIA Services codebase to help launch a new Outercurve Foundation open source project which will be called "Open RIA Services".
RIA Services is a framework for building line-of-business and other n-tier applications (i.e., those distributed to exist among three or more separate computers), delivering client/server interactions for rich desktop-like functionality.
Both Microsoft and Outercurve are hoping that the new Open RIA Services will simplify the development of cross-platform ASP.NET applications for the Web. Equally, there are big hopes for community involvement and support.
Developers will be able to write business logic on the familiar ASP.NET platform and reuse the same code for "thick" client user interfaces such as Silverlight or HTML 5 applications.
Wider hopes here hinge on the future health of the project such that developers will be able 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.
NOTE: RIA Services automatically composes libraries for each tier of the applications (i.e., client, server, and tooling).
According to Microsoft and Outercurve, "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."
The Open RIA Services open source community has already created a roadmap of bug fixes, enhancements, and a number of new releases for the project.
Colin Blair, a Microsoft MVP who has focused on RIA Services for several years, is serving as the project leader. "With Open RIA Services, we have a 3-version roadmap planned out," Blair explained. "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." The project roadmap is available on the project website.
Blair also commented on the initial goals of the project. "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."