ADO.NET Entity Framework and SQL Server 2008

Do you remember the SubSonic project? The Entity Framework is kind of like that. You can create an extensible and customizable data model from any type of source. It takes the boiler plate coding away from developing Data Access Layers.

Entity is designed to seperate how data is stored and how data is used. It's called an Object-Relational Mapping framework. You point the framework at the source, tell it what kind of business objects you want, and poof: you have an object model. Entity is also designed to play nicely with LINQ. You can use it as a data source when querying with LINQ. In my previous post, the query used NorthwindModEntities as a data source. It is an Entity object.

Entity Framework
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Architecture, as defined in the picture:

  • Data source specific providers, which abstracts the ADO.NET interfaces to connect to the database when programming against the conceptual schema.
  • Map provider, a database-specific provider that translates the Entity SQL command tree into a query in the native SQL flavor of the database. It includes the Store specific bridge, which is the component that is responsible for translating the generic command tree into a store-specific command tree.
  • EDM parser and view mapping, which takes the SDL specification of the data model and how it maps onto the underlying relational model and enables programming against the conceptual model. From the relational schema, it creates views of the data corresponding to the conceptual model. It aggregates information from multiple tables in order to aggregate them into an entity, and splits an update to an entity into multiple updates to whichever table contributed to that entity.
  • Query and update pipeline, processes queries, filters and update-requests to convert them into canonical command trees which are then converted into store-specific queries by the map provider.
  • Metadata services, which handle all metadata related to entities, relationships and mappings.
  • Transactions, to integrate with transactional capabilities of the underlying store. If the underlying store does not support transactions, support for it needs to be implemented at this layer.
  • Conceptual layer API, the runtime that exposes the programming model for coding against the conceptual schema. It follows the ADO.NET pattern of using Connection objects to refer to the map provider, using Command objects to send the query, and returning EntityResultSets or EntitySets containing the result.
  • Disconnected components, which locally caches datasets and entity sets for using the ADO.NET Entity Framework in an occasionally connected environment.
    • Embedded database: ADO.NET Entity Framework includes a lightweight embedded database for client-side caching and querying of relational data.
  • Design tools, such as Mapping Designer are also included with ADO.NET Entity Framework which simplifies the job on mapping a conceptual schema to the relational schema and specifying which properties of an entity type correspond to which table in the database.
  • Programming layers, which exposes the EDM as programming constructs which can be consumed by programming languages.
  • Object services, automatically generate code for CLR classes that expose the same properties as an entity, thus enabling instantiation of entities as .NET objects.
  • Web services, which expose entities as web services.
  • High level services, such as reporting services which work on entities rather than relational data.

Presenting at Techdays!

What is Techdays?

 Microsoft Techdays

The Canadian IT Pro Team would love to call it a Tech-Ed of the north, except on tour. Check out the site: to get the info, but the dates are:

Date City Venue
October 29/30 Toronto Toronto Congress Centre
November 6/7 Montreal The Palais des Congrès
November 27 Ottawa Mariott Hotel
December 4 Winnipeg Delta Hotel
December 10/11 Calgary Calgary Stampede Roundup Centre
December 17 Halifax Halifax World Trade Centre
January 21/22 Vancouver Vancouver Convention Centre

I will be doing a presentation in Montreal and Ottawa entitled Microsoft SQL Server: Essential Database Maintenance for New and Seasoned DBAs. The synopsis is:
Every DBA knows that managing a database using SQL Server requires dealing with a key set of components of SQL Server in an optimal in order to make their lives easier. But what are the elements of SQL Server that you need to really focus on to get the best bang for the DBA buck, and what best practices should be followed to ensure an optimally-running an instance in SQL Server? In this session we will walk through the Top 10 List of DBA techniques and best practices to ensure a smooth running database and instance. You’ll learn: how to optimize data files and transaction logs; why TempDB is special and how to treat it properly; indexing strategies dealing with corruption; and much, much more.

I'm also doing a session entitled Beyond Relational SQL Server 2008: Managing Unstructured and Semi-Structured Data:
The amount of data that does not fit into the tabular format of relational tables is increasing tremendously, be it images, sounds, text documents, XML documents, or semi-structured data. Integrating this data with the robust, efficient processing capabilities of SQL Server and providing integrated querying and management of that data together with the standard relational data becomes increasingly more important. This presentation will present new and existing functionality on how SQL Server 2008 supports these non-relational kinds of data. The presentation will provide insights into FILESTREAM, Remote Blob storage, new XML functionality, integrated Full-Text Search, sparse columns, filtered indexes and the new hierarchyID type.

Should be fun. See you there!

Presentation: Overview of ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions

The presentation I did for the Toronto Code Camp, "Overview of ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions", is up on my site.

Download it here.

Microsoft Codename Volta

If Google can do it, so can Microsoft. Volta is the GWT of .NET. Enough said. Here's a description of what it is.

The Volta technology preview is a developer toolset that enables you to build multi-tier web applications by applying familiar techniques and patterns. First, design and build your application as a .NET client application, then assign the portions of the application to run on the server and the client tiers late in the development process. The compiler creates cross-browser JavaScript for the client tier, web services for the server tier, and communication, serialization, synchronization, security, and other boilerplate code to tie the tiers together.

Developers can target either web browsers or the CLR as clients and Volta handles the complexities of tier-splitting for you.  Volta comprises tools such as end-to-end profiling to make architectural refactoring and optimization simple and quick. In effect, Volta offers a best-effort experience in multiple environments without any changes to the application.

Download it here.

You need Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5.

Free ASP.NET Pro Magazine (PDF Version)

Click on the issues for the direct download link.

AJAX "Get Started" videos

For anyone trying to get started with AJAX and the new AJAX control toolkit here are a couple of short videos that you could watch while sipping on your coffee :)

ASP.NET AJAX Extensions: Installation and Setup

ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit: Installation and getting started

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Setting focus back to the control that caused the PostBack in an ASP.NET Form

SmartNavigation can be set to true on your ASP.NET webform so that when postbacks occur , the page when rendered back to the browser, will navigate back to the control that caused the postback.

But SmartNavigation can be problematic especially when dynamically loading controls onto your webform.

Therefore if you have SmartNavigation turned off = false, below is a piece of code that you can call from your webform  that will add javascript to your page, to automatically navigate back to the control that originally caused the postback.

I tested the code against IE6 and Netscape 7.1.


  /// This method will take passed webPage, and find the control that caused the postback. If it finds
  /// one it will set javascript on the page to set focus to that control

  /// The web page
  public void SetFocusPostBackControl(System.Web.UI.Page webPage)
   string[] ctlPostBack;
   ctlPostBack = webPage.Page.Request.Form.GetValues("__EVENTTARGET");
   if (ctlPostBack != null && ctlPostBack.Length > 0)
    string ctlUniqueId;
    ctlUniqueId = ctlPostBack[0];
    System.Web.UI.Control findControl = webPage.Page.FindControl(ctlUniqueId);
    if ((findControl != null) &&
     (findControl is DropDownList ||
     findControl is TextBox ||
     findControl is RadioButton ||
     findControl is RadioButtonList))
     string ctlClientId;
     ctlClientId = findControl.ClientID;
     string jScript;
     jScript = "<SCRIPT language=\"javascript\"> document.getElementById('" + ctlClientId + "').focus(); document.getElementById('"
     + ctlClientId + "').scrollIntoView(true) </SCRIPT>";;
     webPage.Page.RegisterStartupScript("focus",jScript ); 



Developing an ASP.NET Framework From a Windows Forms .NET Perspective.

A couple of months ago, I had to quickly develop an ASP.NET framework.
I incorporated parts of a Windows .NET framework that I had previously worked on. The basic
premise being that a Windows .NET Form and an ASP.NET WebForm are both event driven 
and have controls such as buttons and dropdowns.

There were two basic steps in developing this ASP.NET framework.

1) Creating Ancestor code behind pages for all the code behind pages used in the project: 

a) public class WebFormBase : System.Web.UI.Page -> For the Web Forms
b) public class WebUserControlBase : System.Web.UI.UserControl   -> For the Web User Controls
When a Webform or Web UserControl needs to be created, their code behinds inherit from the custom base class:

public class  OrderWebForm : WebFormBase
public class  ProductWebuserControl : WebUserControlBase

I think the above is a pretty standard thing to do.

The only thing I really did a little bit differently was to raise more events up to the descendent pages such as:





In this way the descendent code has a chance to do some work before and after the code in ancestor.

2) All server side controls used on a WebForm or Web UserControl are inherited from the standard Microsoft Web Controls, or a third party control:

public class MyWebButton : System.Web.UI.WebControls.Button
public class MyWebMenu : Infragistics.Web.UI.UltraWebMenu
etc. etc. As you know there are many more. Hyperlink, Label, DataList etc.

For this framework thats pretty well it, in a nutshell.

This has really paid off for the future development work, because server Side controls can now implement custom interfaces,
such as :

Then in the base classes for the code behind for the WebFormBase or the WebUserControlBase, all the code is there to handle translation  of pages to French or English or to disable or enable or disable controls automatically depending on a custom property put on the Web page called Enabled. Other things that have been built into the framework are resource file management, session management, navigation management and a custom help button that launches another browser with some help.