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Getting Started (DDEX) 

The Data Designer Extensibility (DDEX) SDK provides documentation, samples, and resources to help you implement a DDEX provider for exposing third-party data source objects in the Visual Studio. DDEX providers allow you to expose objects from virtually any data source.

What Is DDEX?

DDEX enhances the Visual Studio design-time experience by allowing data designers to communicate with third-party data sources and their object hierarchies. At its highest level, DDEX defines a systematic approach to extending data designers and data-related features of Visual Studio. More practically, this involves two architectural pillars:

  • DDEX consumes a set of common support entities that are extended by specialized data providers that are called DDEX providers. These support entities are managed classes that support such things as data-command handling, object enumeration, data-connection support, data-object support, view support, and numerous other important capabilities. The Visual Studio services expose user-level functionality for these capabilities.

  • DDEX provides a set of Visual Studio services that expose functionality that has been provided by the support entities. Some of the more important Visual Studio services include the following:

    • DDEX data-object factory (DataProviderObjectFactory class).

      Provides a way to create connection-related objects.

    • DDEX Provider manager (DataProviderManager class).

      Allows you to enumerate registered DDEX providers and query for objects of a specific type.

    • Data-connection dialog box (DataConnectionDialog class).

      Allows you to assemble information for creating data connections and gathering your provider's object-factory requirements.

    • Data-connection factory (DataConnectionFactory class).

      Allows you to create your data-connection objects.


      For a complete list of DDEX support entities and Visual Studio services, see Data Designer Extensibility Architecture.

With DDEX, data objects from virtually any source can participate in the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE), appear as an object hierarchy in Server Explorer, and participate fully in the drag-and-drop design-time experience.

Exposing third-party data-source objects in Visual Studio requires, in addition to a DDEX provider, one XML file that defines your data object types and another that describes your data view hierarchies. These XML files must validate against schemas defined in VsDataObjectSupport.xsd and VsDataViewSupport.xsd. These XSD files ships with the DDEX SDK and are installed (by default) at <drive>:\Program Files\Visual Studio 2005 SDK\<build number>\VisualStudioIntegration\Common\Schemas.

Both of these schema definition (.xsd) files are documented in the DDEX XML Schema Reference.

In addition to your DDEX provider and XML files, you may need to use members of the DDEX Managed Class Library Reference.

In This Section

Data Designer Extensibility Architecture

A high-level discussion of the architecture of data designer extensibility.

DDEX Data Object Support

Top-level topic in a node that provides detailed documentation of DDEX data object support.

DDEX Data View Support

Top-level topic in a node that provides detailed documentation of DDEX data view support.

DDEX Samples

A set of four samples that provide increasingly robust and sophisticated DDEX implementations.

Validating End User Applications of DDEX

A discussion of steps required for validating an installation of a data provider.

DDEX XML Schema Reference

Reference documentation for the two DDEX schemas. VsDataObjectSupport.xsd and VsDataViewSupport.xsd.

DDEX Managed Class Library Reference

API reference documentation for the DDEX managed class library.

Related Sections

Visual Studio Development Environment SDK

The Integration section of the Visual Studio SDK provides tools and resources to help develop your VSPackage.