In-Depth

WinFS: The Longhorn Data Layer

WinFS offers new ways to interact with data that redefine how the operations system offers up data. Check out what's new with a snapshot of its current architecture model.

WinFS: The Longhorn Data Layer

Posted December 18, 2003

WinFS offers a new way to interact with data that redefines how the operating system offers up data (see Figure 1). You might think of data as files on your disk, but WinFS supports a much broader view of what data is. The WinFS framework supports APIs for interacting with (1) objects, (2) T/SQL, and (3) XML. These APIs support interaction with data as specific bits of information, not just a blob of data on a disk. The specific bits of information are described in terms of the abstract data model, which consists of items, relationships, and extensions to items. Microsoft will provide a set of schemas for common items, such as (4) people, and you'll be able to extend these schemas, perhaps holding a different set of information for clients than family or friends.

Certain types of information—which so far includes people, (5) calendar information, and (6) documents—interact in specific and predictable ways. The ability to offer special services to work with these types of data means that applications will be able to share their information far more richly. One benefit: You should be able to synchronize calendars everywhere because apps will be able to draw on the same information.

You'll still be able to store files as blobs on disk. If you look within the storage subsystem of WinFS, you find not only (7) Transactional NTFS, but (8) FAT 16/32. These are proven technologies, and Microsoft builds on them when storing information in a file format. You'll be able to enhance your use of those files by attaching items (which are nothing more than containers for a set of defined fields of information) to individual files. You can attach multiple items to files, which means you can build relationships between files, as well as between files and other types of items. —Kathleen Dollard

About the Author

Kathleen is a consultant, author, trainer and speaker. She’s been a Microsoft MVP for 10 years and is an active member of the INETA Speaker’s Bureau where she receives high marks for her talks. She wrote "Code Generation in Microsoft .NET" (Apress) and often speaks at industry conferences and local user groups around the U.S. Kathleen is the founder and principal of GenDotNet and continues to research code generation and metadata as well as leveraging new technologies springing forth in .NET 3.5. Her passion is helping programmers be smarter in how they develop and consume the range of new technologies, but at the end of the day, she’s a coder writing applications just like you. Reach her at kathleen@mvps.org.

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