Microsoft has donated the RIA Services codebase to help launch a new Outercurve Foundation open source project called “Open RIA Services.” Open RIA Services will simplify the development of cross-platform ASP.NET applications for the Web and be supported by community involvement.

RIA Services is a framework for building line-of -business and other n-tier applications. It provides the client/server interactions that are necessary to deliver rich desktop-like functionality. The project enables developers to write business logic on the familiar ASP.NET platform and reuse the same code for “thick” client user interfaces such as Silverlight or HTML 5 applications.

This project allows developers to spend more time focusing on their own application requirements and less time implementing communication protocols between the client and server due to the unit-of-work operations and deep validation functionality. RIA Services automatically composes libraries for each tier of the applications (i.e. client, server, and tooling).

The server-side libraries provide prescriptive patterns for business logic classes to communicate with data access libraries to define validation rules that apply on both the server and the client. The client-side libraries provide the underlying capabilities for the application client to communicate with the server and build the unit-of-work that will be sent to the server. The tooling libraries perform code generation to expose the server side entities and operations to the client with a rich and domain-specific programming model.

The Open RIA Services open source community has already created a roadmap of bug fixes, enhancements, and new releases for the project. Colin Blair, a Microsoft MVP who has focused on RIA Services for several years, is serving as the project leader.       
“With Open RIA Services, we have a 3-version roadmap planned out,” Blair explained. “While the first version will primarily focus on bug fixes and minor features, the next two major versions will bring significant changes including an emphasis on cross-platform clients.” The project roadmap is available on the project Web site.

Blair also commented on the initial goals of the project. “We aim to provide a smooth transition to Open RIA Services from Microsoft’s WCF RIA Services. Microsoft’s donation of the RIA Services codebase is really what makes Open RIA Services possible.”

Jeff Handley, Microsoft’s development lead for WCF RIA Services and NuGet (another Outercurve Foundation open source project), is managing Microsoft’s contributions to Open RIA Services. “The RIA Services community has been clamoring for the project to become open source, and it’s a relief to finally be able to deliver on it,” Handley said.

“With the Open RIA Services framework being developed by the community, I’m excited to see the many developers and users of RIA Services able to contribute to the framework’s evolution,” said Handley.