On its Learning ADO.NET page, Microsoft defines it as "a data-access technology that enables applications to connect to data stores and manipulate data contained in them in various ways."
Right now, of course, ADO.NET is optimized for the .NET Framework 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005. Like everything else in the framework, though, it is getting a makeover when Visual Studio "Orcas" emerges within the next year or so.
Paul Gielens, a member of the ADO.NET team and an active blogger, has, over the past few months, put together a seven-part series highlighting the "future directions" of the technology. Below we link to each installment of the series and highlight some of what Gielens and the rest of the ADO.NET team are talking about.
Part 1: Spans to pre-fetch data, dynamically defining entity attributes at runtime and moving the Entity Data Model to the server.
Part 2: Syntax "sugar" for the store schema (to reduce ambiguity), extensibility interfaces and disconnected entities in scenarios such as multi-tier systems and the reconstruction of ASP.NET states in between page hits.
Part 3: An Enumeration type, auto-generated fields and an Entity Mapper, which would use a GUI to create and edit mapping.
Part 4: This focuses on what ADO.NET vNext will not support -- namely, an entity base class, the re-generation of the Mapping and Store schema after changing a database, and locking hints.
Part 5: Support for stored procedures, abstract entities and the XML data type.
Part 6: Metadata infrastructure and the integration of serialization with Windows Communication Foundation.
Part 7: An edm.exe tool, more information on stored procedures and, "most likely," support for Oracle databases.
Part 8: Support for spans, data manipulation language (DML) support for Entity SQL, and a lack of support for multiple data sources, as this apparently "breaks the fundamental principle that query processing is executed in the database, not on the client."
If you want to give ADO.NET vNext a spin, the following downloads should be of interest:
ADO.NET vNext CTP
ADO.NET Samples for Visual Studio "Orcas" CTP
ADO.NET vNext Entity Data Model Designer Prototype CTP