Almost everything we do in the software industry relates to data in some way. At some point, all software developers must deal with data, perhaps using a database, text file, spreadsheet, or some other method of data storage. There are many different methods and technologies for using, manipulating, and managing data, and newer methods are continually introduced to enhance existing ones. These methods range from function-based APIs to object-based frameworks and proprietary libraries.
Several years ago, it was common for a simple VB desktop application to access a private Microsoft Access database stored on the local hard disk, but this is no longer a typical scenario. Today's applications take advantage of distributed-component technologies to exploit scalability and interoperability, thus widening the reach of the application to the enterprise. Although ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) served a typical VB application well a few years ago, it fails to meet the increasing demands for better scalability, performance, and interoperability across multiple platforms that web-based applications require.
Here's where ADO.NET comes in. ADO.NET provides huge benefits that allow us to build even better enterprise applications. In this chapter, you will learn the benefits of ADO.NET, the ADO.NET architecture, the main classes in ADO.NET and how they work, and the integration of ADO.NET and XML.