Microsoft has issued the first preview of the Sync Framework, a way for software developers to inject data synchronization capabilities into applications.
The company is taking no pains to temper expectations for its plans. An overview document on the Sync Framework site states that developers will be able to "build sync ecosystems that integrate any application, with any data from any store using any protocol over any network."
Microsoft's goals for Sync therefore appear much broader in scope -- at least for now -- than Google Gears, the search giant's toolset for building offline capabilities into Web-based applications.
The times call for such an undertaking, according to Anthony Carrabino, senior product manager, SQL Server marketing. "You've got the data explosion on the server side and on the devices," he said. "There's just a need to have this data synchronized."
Established applications such as Exchange already synchronize data between online and offline sessions. But the scenarios where such capabilities are needed have dramatically grown in number, Carrabino said. He provided the example of a delivery service company, which may have trucks that travel in and out of network range as they go about their rounds, but need to ensure delivery-related information is updated when possible.
Developers until now had to undertake substantial effort for each application or instance calling for data synchronization, he said. "What the Sync Framework does is say, we're going to solve synchronization across the board," Carrabino said.
Microsoft said the framework's core runtime can provide "synchronization functionality agnostic of data types and protocols." Developers will also be able to leverage Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE) feeds and create sync-enabled applications both within Microsoft's .NET managed code environment and with unmanaged code.
Also notable is the fact that Microsoft will allow the creation of providers for competing databases, such as Oracle's 11g.
The company has set up a Web site for the Sync Framework here.