It began as Flex Data Services. Then the software became LiveCycle Data Services. Now it is just called Data Services. Data Services has been made a component of ADEP Experience Services. Besides a name change from LiveCycle, it can be deployed differently. No longer exclusively tied to J2EE servers, it is now available as an OSGi bundle. The Java EE application server version continues and continues to be supported. While basically the same, there are some slight differences. The location of configuration files is slightly different. In addition, there are some differences in the way Java classes need to be deployed to work with Data Services. Lin has some very good blog posts about this: [How to Create a Data Services application for the Experience Server that returns data and How to create class/jar files for data service project without using maven].
Once logged onto the Experience Services as an admin there is a dashboard with all sorts of interesting links. There are five you need to concern needed to get started with Data Services. The right side contains three: CRXDE Lite, Packages, and Package Share. On the left you need to know about two, Getting Started and OSGi Console.
CRXDE Lite is an application to browse the JCR object database. Where in the Java EE version of Data Services you would put configuration files within folders, the Data Services server is entirely self-contained within this database. Configuration files are within the hierarchy of the database. The Packages link lets you see which packages you have installed and deploy or undeploy packages. The Package Share link lets you install more. Package Share leads to a library of available packages that can be installed.
The Getting Started link points to an area with good documentation on how to use Experience Services and contains Data Services examples. After following that link you will see a section, Application Use Case Samples, with the example applications. The first example, called Data Integration, shows how to use Data Services within its new framework. Follow the link, Developer tutorial, that is in the right side of that example’s box.
There is one last thing that needs to be done before developing with this server. On any screen click the Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform logo in the top left of the screen – this will take you back to the main screen. Press the OSGi Console link in the left section. This is where configurations are set. To develop with Flex and integrate it with the Experience Services the default setting for RDS needs to be changed. The Configuration tab should be selected at the top. Select Adobe Data Services from the list. You will see its configurations. Make Enable RDS selected and the environment is ready to work with for development. Disable RDS in production environments for security.
Data Services gives the Flex front-end of an application access to the middle-tier services on a server. It has a very efficient data transport protocol for Flex. It allows real-time messaging protocols that give the developer the ability to push and pull data from Flex. Data Services can act as a relay and be a proxy host for other services. It provides data management that works with Flex, sending only the data need for display. Someone gave me a short summary of Data Services that is more complete:
Data Services provides remoting (RPC), messaging (publish/subscribe and push) and data management capabilities for the creation of rich Internet application (RIA’s) as well as multi-screen, mobile or occasionally-connected applications. Data Services also provides a highly productive set of model-driven development capabilities which enable developers to focus on application and business logic and includes a wide variety of back-office data connectivity options including connectivity to server-side Java code, SAP, RDBMS’s, Hibernate, JMS and other server-side systems and technologies.
There’s quite a bit of information in that description and it would be interesting to discuss all of its capabilities separately. Data Services is a great tool in a developer’s kit.
[Edited 10/20/2011: I said the Data Services "is deployed totally differently. No longer tied to J2EE servers...." I should have pointed out that it is not exclusively an OSGi bundle. It is continuing to be available for Java EE application servers, with the next version being 4.6. This version is available for public preview on Adobe Labs. I also added references to some very good links from Lin's blog about creating Data Services applications for the Experience Server. I added a short summary of Data Services I got from someone else.]