Just follow along and I´ll show you all where to get VOA and how to set it up on your machine.
To start exploring VOA I suggest you download Vanatec´s VOA Express edition. It´s free as in "Express" like SQL Server 2005 Express or MySQL or Oracle Database 10g Express or Visual Studio Express as long as you just access one of these database editions.
To download you have to register with Vanatec and provide a valid email address - but that should be a small price to pay for a free full-blown o/r mapper. After registration you can procede to download the install package, a roughly 20 MB zip-file. Remember your user name/password for the site for future downloads of newer versions.
After downloading VOA you need to request a license key to later activate your VOA installation. It will be sent as a text file attachment to the email address you provided during registration.
For an overview of the VOA Express prerequisites see the above picture or have a look at the release notes (currently for version 4).
Installation of VOA is a little bit clumsy, since you need to unpack a zip-file and navigate to the setup.exe. Also, I don´t understand why Vanatec does not put the installation files into a directory of their own and then zip them retaining the directory information; extracting the files then would be easier, since they would be unpacked into their own directory right away avoiding the danger of cluttering one of your directories. A simple msi-file, though, would be even easier.
But anyway... open the zip-file, extract the files into a new folder, and run setup.exe. The installation procedure then checks your system for prerequisites.
The impact on your system is confined to a directory tree in your program files folder...
...as well as a couple of assemblies in the GAC:
After the installation start Visual Studio 2005. You´ll see, VOA registered itself with VS. We´ll later see what VOA adds to VS. Vanatec is working with Microsoft in the VSIP program to smoothly integrate with the IDE.
Before you can actually start using VOA one final step is necessary: You need to activate the installation by registering a license key. This you have to do regardless of which VOA edition you downloaded.
In VS open the key registration dialog through the new OpenAccess menu item.
Then load the license key file you received via email and hit Register New License Now and you´re done.
That´s it. Three small steps. They could be a little easier, but, hey, it´s a one time effort. And don´t fear to be swamped by emails from Vanatec after the online registration. In the past 15 months or so I have received just 9 emails from them of which 4 were triggered by downloads. So most emails from them are just informational newsletters. I think that´s ok.
Sorry, no code yet, but first things first. In my next posting I´ll explore how to persist simple objects.