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Volta aims to ease multi-tier client application development

Microsoft Live Labs has released a toolkit for developing multi-tier applications targeted to Web browsers or to the CLR.

Microsoft Live Labs has released a toolkit for developing multi-tier applications targeted to Web browsers or to the CLR (Common Language Runtime). One stated goal is to ease the process of creating software as a service applications.

This tool, named Volta and available as a technology preview, offers a compiler that will, once a .NET client application has been built, create cross-browser JavaScript for the app's client tier, Web services for the server tier and "boilerplate code to tie the tiers together." This code, as described on the Volta home page, handles areas of concern such as communication, serialization, synchronization and security.

As the Volta development team put it in its blog entry called Announcing Volta, "In effect, Volta extends the .NET platform to further enable the development of software + services applications, using existing and familiar tools and techniques."

Volta is available for download from its Live Labs site. To use it, developers need Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5, plus IE 6 or above and Firefox 2 or above for integrated debugging. In the server tier, Volta applications must use ASP.NET and IIS 6 or 7. On the client tier, applications should target either .NET 3.5 or "standards-conformant Web browsers with JavaScript support."

The site also includes a set of Volta sample applications, a Volta FAQ page and a series of developer guidance and "recipe pages," the latter of which cover common tasks necessary for developing with Ajax and other JavaScript implementations.

MSDN, meanwhile, has launched a Volta forum.

The release has some speculating that Microsoft aims to take on Java -- more specifically, the Google Web Toolkit and its so-called "cloud programming" model for Java.

NewsFactor Network's story Is Microsoft's New Volta a Java Killer? offers a bit of insight into Microsoft's potential to challenge Sun.

Meanwhile, Mary Jo Foley has posted on her All About Microsoft blog some thoughts from Erik Meijer comparing Volta to the GWT. The biggest differences, not surprisingly, are centered arounf programming languages and availability -- the GWT has been out for about a year.

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