During the latter half of 2006, I spent a little time getting to know Django. I was impressed – especially by the automatic admin functionality. The challenges of using Django for real, however, were so substantial – the abandonment of a known, tried and trusted environment being first on that list – that the interest never developed further.
So, when I saw the Dynamic Data feature of the ASP .NET 3.5 Extensions Preview, I felt compelled to give it a go. After a false start trying to use the latest CTP of SQL Server 2008 – this is only preview software, so I’d expect that SQL Server 2008 will be supported in a future version – I switched to the already installed SQL Server 2005 Express and followed the example in Scott Gu’s blog. It boils down to three steps:
- Create a project
- Add LINQ to SQL Classes and drag the tables you want onto the designer.
- Modify the web.config file to enable Dynamic Templates.
Then you run it. And it just works. Really. The whole thing took me less than 5 minutes. And you can customise the look and feel easily. This will be a great way of rapidly creating data entry screens that can be used for admin functionality or for facilitating data entry while the main application is being built. Prototyping and creating real functionality that can be used and can evolve over time are other uses of this framework. And being built on ASP .NET 3.5 and LINQ, it’s built on technology that you (will) know. My only worry is that it doesn’t have a cool enough name. (For what it’s worth, I’d suggest Aspen – ASP Extensions.)