What is Entity Framework, and how to use it?


Frameworks are special algorithms that make it easier for programmers to write code. Entity Framework is considered the most in-demand and popular option for programming in the C# language.

However, what are the framework’s features, and what makes it so popular among IT professionals? Let’s check out in detail how to use the extension correctly. We’ll also reveal the strengths of the tool.

What is Entity Framework, and how to use it?What is Entity Framework, and how to use it?
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Entity Framework, in simple words

The Entity Framework (EF) is a great solution when working with different data sources. It is used in programming languages that belong to the .NET family, including C#. The algorithm allows interaction with the database management system through entities rather than conventional tables. The solution also enables programmers to write EF code faster.

For example, a programmer working directly with numerous databases must complete several tasks, such as preparing, connecting, and sending the appropriate SQL queries and transactions. However, these tasks are completed automatically when using Entity Framework. The programmer works exclusively with entities and orders the algorithm to save the appropriate adjustments.

Simply put, the Entity Framework is a set of specific tools that support information-driven software development. Such a solution helps programmers process large amounts of information at a sufficient level of abstraction and create and maintain programs while reducing the code amount compared to alternative frameworks.

Peculiarities of connecting the framework

It is possible to connect the framework to almost any project, from Xamarin to ASP.NET. In such a case, the best option is to use the console application, which has a simple and intuitive interface. To install the framework, you must create a Console Application project in Visual Studio. The next step is to open the NuGet package manager and select the necessary row. That’s how you download and install the framework extension.

Upon completing the installation, connect to the DBMS using the configuration file. Go back to the console and run the App. Config. Specify the information about the chosen data management system. It will use the file to access connectionString.

The extension also connects to the local DB, SQL EXPRESS. Give the table a name to start using the extension. If the table is not found, the extension will automatically create one.

Start writing code after finishing your work with the configuration file. Let’s see how the process goes in detail.

What is Entity Framework, and how to use it?

What is Entity Framework, and how to use it?
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How to write code fast?

The success of using the algorithm depends on whether the user knows how to write code, create SQL queries, understands how to use ADO.NET, and manage connections. Today, it’s possible to use the extension in numerous ways, so we offer to focus on one method – Code First. This method implies the programmer must first create a control code of the selected DB set.

You need to create an entity to start working on the project. Note: the C# programming language views these entities as a class. You must add a class applicable for integration with the database. In programming, this parameter is called “context.”

You may use PlayerContext to manage all sorts of entities. Add DbSet collections to get started. Note: the table’s name must coincide with the entity’s name but in the plural.

Register your objects and add the table. Once everything is set, run the software to verify you saved all objects. Then check the data in the table by displaying the information from the selected objects in a specific property. The EF framework automatically defines the property as a primary key, meaning the required values are supplied to the table.

The framework can perform more complex and large-scale tasks:

  • sampling;
  • data change;
  • editing.

You must use LINQ-, SQL-queries to perform mentioned tasks. Programmers often choose LINQ.

Nuances of using LINQ

Language Integrated Query adds syntax to the chosen programming language. The syntax resembles the tools used by SQL. For instance, you can use the Where () method to select information.

It enables you to get absolutely every row from the table that matches the given statement. Compared to using ADO.NET, in this case, not only do you obtain necessary table rows but also objects. They can be used without additional preparation.

Benefits of the framework

Today, most programmers prefer the Entity Framework, as this algorithm offers multiple benefits. The main advantages of the extension include the following:

  • Easy readability of the program code.
  • Reduced time to perform tasks.
  • Easy to compare objects using tables.
  • Usage of one syntax when working with object queries
  • Direct involvement of FE/LINQ objects.

Like any other tool, this framework has its drawbacks. For example, the algorithm may have a higher latency if you work with massive tables. This can lead to bad performance. Thus, when working on larger projects, it’s best to use ADO.NET, which doesn’t involve using extensions.

The framework is designed to simplify a large code written to facilitate the interaction with different information bases. EF reduces the time it takes to work on the code, facilitating the programmers’ job. The usage of this algorithm significantly increases work productivity. It’s why programmers prefer using this framework.

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“Model” life cycles

The most common approach for creating and launching the project is the one when the service or the program is built by dividing it into three key models. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

  • The domain model provides an opportunity to define entities and relationships directly within the system.
  • The logical model guarantees the normalization of entities and relationships to create tables with a foreign key with no restrictions.
  • The physical model accounts for the abilities of an information processing system by defining information that depends directly on the database that stores components.

It’s worth mentioning the physical model must be improved by the database administrators. They can significantly improve the product’s performance. At the same time, programmers working on the code should limit themselves to their work only using SQL queries.

Typically, domain models are used as tools for providing and exchanging views on software requirements. That’s why they typically serve in relatively unchanging scheme formats. Programmers discuss such models at the initial stages of the project, so there’s no need to return to this topic later on.

Many programmers skip creating this conceptual model and start with building tables, highlighting direct keys and columns in the database. The framework brings the model to life by allowing programmers to request relationships and entities in various domains.

What is Entity Framework, and how to use it?

At the same time, the framework relies on EF to implement such operations directly into a command related to the source of information. This approach enables skipping the rigid software methods that depend on a specific data provider.

When using the Code First approach, the conceptual model is directly translated into the storage model in the code. This is done by the framework automatically, based on the types of objects and any custom configurations specified by the user. Runtime mapping metadata is generated based on a combination of domain type definitions and configuration details, which must be included in the code.

The EDM framework enables the expression of models in XML-based schemes. These models are defined in files with SSDL, MSL, and CSDL extensions. SSDL is for the logical information storage model, MSL maps the storage model to its conceptual variation, and CSDL extends the EDM framework for defining the conceptual model.

Any adjustments to the models can be made without affecting the conceptual type, and the storage model is directly dependent on the providers, allowing the same conceptual model to be used for multiple data sources.

EF allows for the creation, retrieval, updating, and deletion of entities by using model files and mapping. It also connects entities to stored procedures in databases.

Data access and correction

EF algorithm is a tool that facilitates object-relational mapping and enables programs to read and modify data presented in an entity format. The EF algorithm provides an Entity Framework Database Context (System.Data.Objects.ObjectContext -Entity.DbContext) class which can be used to construct a conceptual model.

It’s vital to understand that the object context offers tools that can help track changes and manage identifiers, relationships, and concurrency. The class provides access to the SaveChanges method, which records information about adjustments, deletions, insertions, and updates of information in the database. Similar to queries, such changes are performed either by commands that are automatically generated by the system, or by stored procedures written by the programmer.

Interaction with DBMS

Today, there are three interaction methods with databases offered by the framework. These are as follows:

  • Database first. Allows you to create a set of classes (New class) to reflect the model of a particular source of information.
  • Model first. Enables to create a database model (add), according to which EF executes (integrated) the real database already on the server.
  • Code first. The programmer is responsible for designing an information model class that will be saved in the information source, after which the framework will generate a Microsoft database and its respective tables.

EF is extremely popular and is used by many developers and programmers to create their own unique products. It allows you to simplify the process of writing code and facilitate many mandatory processes when working with databases.

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