Microsoft this week released the ASP.NET 2.0 Provider Toolkit for developers who need to customize ASP 2.0 to work with non-Microsoft systems. The move came in San Diego as part of O'Reilly's Open Source Convention, an event that Microsoft and its representatives have taken part in during recent years.
While Microsoft has not endorsed open source as it is represented by Linux, Apache and other prominent source-code distribution models, it has released some software using a so-called "shared source licensing." The ASP.NET 2.0 Provider Kit is another step on that path. It includes source code, documentation and program samples.
The ASP.NET 2.0 Web platform is an apt target for such providers, as Web-centric systems have to tap into a variety of databases to provide authentication, personalization, transactional and other capabilities.
The kit is part of Microsoft's effort to extend ASP.NET 2.0, which, in many organizations, must work with a variety of other systems, noted Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft, product manager, Web Platform and Tool division.
"With 2.0 we put a lot of work into assuring our developers have the ability to bend it. To look inside the 'black box,' Goldfarb said.
The first toolkit in this program contains the source code for Access database providers and educational material that explains how developers can extend the provider model of ASP.NET 2.0 for enterprise environment. The educational material describes providers – sometimes known as connectors, or pipes – that link ASP.NET 2.0 with back-end environments such as MySQL, DB2 and Oracle. Samples for SQL and AD/AZMan providers are anticipated for a future kit release that will coincide with the November release of Visual Studio 2005.
"The kit," Microsoft's Goldfarb said, "will enable businesses and developers to extend ASP.NET to work for them. Over time, the kit will add more source code and core guidance to make developers successful in any enterprise."
The providers Microsoft describes in the kit, said Goldfarb, are based on Provider patterns. These are methods – or best practices – for designing programs that have become popular among architects looking to connect diverse systems.