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Skip Navigation LinksHome > StrataFrame Roadmap for 2012

 Overview

Development Schedule
Well, let's just start by saying that we are really excited about SF version 2.0! As many of our existing users will let you know, they have eagerly awaited StrataFrame 2.0. And the good news...it is on the way! I will discuss why things have taken so long later, but I can't tell you how excited we are as a development team to have all of our development visions finally get on the slate for realization.

We have recently had one of our best development meetings (at least in my opinion) in a very long time. StrataFrame 2.0 development has been actualized as part of the schedule. This means that you are going to start seeing a lot of new and excited features, as discussed below, through the next year.

What Took So Long?
There have been a number of emails, forum posts, and the like discussing what is going on with StrataFrame development and why there hasn't been a new release. This is a great question. The good news is that technically, StrataFrame has been drastically enhanced, but it just has not been relayed to the standard user base. If you will recall, we too use StrataFrame. StrataFrame was created due to a need that we had as a development shop.

Our largest application is called PracticeStudio which is an Electronic Health Record application that is extremely vast. Well, if you have been paying attention the last three or four years, then you have heard of the healthcare overhaul. This hit us square between the eyes because a huge part of the healthcare law is the regulation of medical records. The mountain was extremely steep with many, many, MANY different large sub-applications that had to be created from scratch. That being said, it required every ounce of our strength, time, and resources to get this job done. In fact, we were on 6 to 7 day work weeks, 10 to 12 hour days, for over 2 years. But we scaled that mountain and now have reached the summit. If the saying, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is true, then we are now "The Incredible Hulks" of coding!

Getting to the Fun Stuff

General Discussion
So now that we have discussed what has been going on, now let's discuss what will be coming. Like I mentioned earlier, we use StrataFrame ourselves everyday, and we know exactly what needs to be done to really take performance, scalability, and functionality to the next level. Not to mention reducing the amount of time you spend on mundane tasks.

30,000 Foot View
This article will focus more at the 30,000 foot view to give a general overview. But we will continue to get closer to the ground over the coming months with more and more detail, videos, and samples. So be sure to check back fairly often, especially after the Christmas season.

Data Layer and Business Layer

Re-engineering the Business Layer
The current Business Layer is great, but it could be awesome! To begin, the business objects will become even more object based. Instead of basing the internal components of the business object around an ADO.NET data table, we will have our own object entity model that is much faster, enumerable, and easier to bind to virtually anything. Don't worry, though, you will still be able to create data tables and import data tables into a business object.

Next, there will be entity collections and collection views that are independent and link back to the collection. This will allow you to have several filtered and sorted lists that all reference the same backing entity collection.

Data Layer Enhancements
The data layer will be redesigned to be more decoupled from the data provider. This will allow for more options when choosing a data provider (such as using the Oracle provider over the .NET Oracle provider).

Enterprise Server Enhancements
The Enterprise Server right now is very robust, but to increase its scalability, changes will be made to support streaming of data to clients rather than sending the data in chunks; this will decrease the memory overhead of the enterprise server and allow it to be used in even larger deployments.

LINQ Support
StrataFrame 2.0 will fully support LINQ. From defining queries that are translated and executed on the database to dynamically defining collection views, LINQ will be fully supported by StrataFrame 2.0.

Business Object Meta-Data Stored in XML
Business Object meta-data will now be stored in XML and as part of the project. This prevents the need for SQL Server to store the meta-data and makes it far easier for groups that work in remote locations to check-out and work with a project without the need to have the original SQL Server database or connection to the source database.

XML as True Business Object Datasource
Though you could bind to XML files through certain OLE providers previous, we will now provide true XML mapping. This basically allows you to use XML files as simple data files without much work at all. XML file structures will also be able to be dynamically updated just as the Database Deployment Toolkit dynamically updates SQL Server.

Native Business Object Binding
Business objects will be able to bind to 3rd party controls without the need to implement the IBusinessBindable interface. Native .NET data binding will be supported, including grids and other enumerable controls. This will also make it easier to create reports, etc.

Presentation Layer

New WPF Control Collection
We will be introducing a robust control collection that will include all of the controls in the current StrataFrame collection. However, there will be new controls introduced as well.

New WinForms Control Collection
The current Windows Forms controls will be brought forward and improved to take advantage of the new framework. New RAD features and type editors will be introduced as well to speed up common tedious tasks.

Completely De-coupled Control Collections
Basically, this just means that the control collections can easily be used with other entities other than StrataFrame. Technically the current control set could as well, but the major difference is that the control collection can function as a completely seperate entity to the business layer. In short, this would allow the control collections to be purchased without the framework.

New and Improved Themes
New themes will be introduced and also be made more granular and reusable allowing for more discrete control integration. Graphics experts will also be involved on the design, color schemes, and generation. Current themes will be brought forward and improved. You will also still be able to create your own themes.

Design-Time Templates
Have you ever dropped on a control and set the same properties over and over again? Us too! You will now be able to create templates so while inside of the designer, you can apply pick and apply a template to a control or group of controls. For example, if you commonly turn off autosize and then set the alignment to right on a label, create a template. Then instead of going to each property, just click the designer arrow on the label and click your desired template. And in one click, all of your desired properties are set.

Business Object Column Level Drag-And-Drop
A designer window will now allow a column or group of columns to be dragged from the business object onto the form and a label and appropriate control will be placed with the appropriate bindings. This is a major time saver.

Form and Dialog Wizard
We are definitely not moving away from our philosphies or changing the core of StrataFrame, but it is common that when you create a form or dialog that you go through many of the same steps over-and-over. So we will be introducing a Form and Dialog Wizard that will let you choose headings, titles, business objects, fields, etc. and then generate the form at a basic level. This is meant to save a lot of leg work. Once the form is generated, then it will be maintained manually from that point forward. It will need some "clean-up" work once it is created as well, but it will save a lot of manual steps!

Database Deployment Toolkit

Vastly Improved DTE
The design-time environment will have a major face-lift. Multiple tables, sprocs, views, etc. can be maintained at the same time. The environment will feel more like a development environment.

Deployment Support without SMO
At present, the Database Deployment Toolkit uses SQL Server Management Objects to retrieve information from SQL Server as well as update certain portions of the structures. By removing the need for SMO, application distribution will be much easier and updates can actually be faster in some areas.

Engineered to Support Multiple Database
At present, Database Deployment Toolkit only supports SQL Server. However, it is being re-engineered to allow other databases to be added long-term. Which databases and when is still on the development chopping block.

Validation Logic
The Database Deployment Toolkit doesn't have any SQL validation. Some basic validation will be implemented as well as some general error checking for common mistakes. The possibility of custom errors may also be implemented.

Role Based Security Re-vamp

Modernized Presentation
The dialogs, graphics, and general layout will be modernized to have a newer and fresh look.

Custom API Integration
Hooks will be provided to create seamless user dialogs. It is farily common that custom user fields and logic may need to be added as part of your application. By adding these hooks, you can create custom dialogs while still accessing it from a single location through the RBS interface.

Wrapping Up

Much More Than Posted Here!
There is actually much, much more that will be implemented into StrataFrame 2.0 than what is show here. But we just wanted to wet your appetite a little. We will be posting new articles with more specific details as time goes on. So if you are not seeing that favorite enhancement you have been waiting for, it may already be on the development schedule, so just ask us about it or wait to see future articles.

 
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