I just learned about the MOSS 2010 sneak peek site (http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/2010/Sneak_Peek/Pages/default.aspx), which shows some very cool screenshots of the upcoming version of SharePoint. There are a couple important points about this release which are exciting from a connected systems perspective.
The Business Data Catalog (BDC) definition designer that came with the Office Server SDK is getting a facelift and some updates. The BDC functionality is now called Business Connectivity Services (BCS). If you worked with the BDC in MOSS 2007, you probably know that you could not use WCF bindings other than basicHttp to interact with web services or other services with the BDC. I am speculating, but I would anticipate that BCS will include more WCF functionality than just the basicHttp binding. We will see in a few months.
I have used the Microsoft tool and the BDC Meta man tool and consider both to be helpful but fairly limited. There were various ways to encounter issues with the Microsoft tool so I am hopeful this latest release will provide some fixes and a better developer experience. The sneak peek screenshots also show using the tool from within Visual Studio rather than as a separate tool. This means that the new tool will be used with some out-of-the-box SharePoint extensions. The sneak peak also discusses a new designer experience as well. These improvements are significant and provide SharePoint lifecycle benefits for BDC projects.
The additional Linq to SharePoint feature extension will be a nice feature as well. The designer screenshots for the BCS tool which is described as being for BCS for entities looks very similar to the LINQ to SQL designer so I would anticipate that the future vision of BCS entities is to provide a richer experience for interacting with the BCS entities like with the ADO.NET entity framework. Previously through the BDC the way to interact with the entities was not on a code level and required web parts or list interactions post deployment. It will be exciting to see how far the LINQ to SharePoint API extends and how much of it applies to BCS entities.
Also, the Office 2010 technical preview has been released. I installed all of it (except Visio) on a Windows Server 2008 R1 box successfully. Unforunately, Visio encountered an error so I was not able to install it. In my experience, SharePoint designer does not work on MOSS 2007 sites, although SharePoint Workspace (new name for Groove), does work on MOSS 2007 document libraries. Overall, the graphics are a nice upgrade to Office and I am enjoying the new functionality. 🙂
I also like the new feedback components of the Office 2010 TP, and I thought it would be funny to post on these. After installing Office 2010, you get 2 new icons on the tray, a smiley and a frowny and you can click on each to report feedback experience, as apporpriate. Each one takes a screenshot so you can quickly and easily report screenshots. Here is a picture with the funny faces in the tray:
Try out the Office TP if you have time and be watching for the SharePoint 2010 release coming up soon!