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Using the Entity Framework Provider

Entity Framework is an object-relational mapper that enables .NET developers to work with relational data using domain-specific objects. It eliminates the need for most of the data-access code that developers usually need to write. The InterSystems Entity Framework Provider enables you to use Entity Framework 6 technology to access an InterSystems database (if you are using Entity Framework 5, ask your InterSystems representative for instructions). For more information on the .NET Entity Framework, see in a new tab.

See “Setting Up Entity Framework Provider” in the chapter on “.NET Setup and Installation Procedures” for information on Entity Framework system requirements, installation, and setup.

This chapter describes three approaches to getting started with Entity Framework:

  • Code First — Start by defining data classes and generate a database from the class properties.

  • Database First — Start with an existing database, then use Entity Framework to generate code for a web application based on the fields of that database.

  • Model First — Start by creating a database model showing entities and relationships, then generate a database from the model.

The sections below show examples of each of these approaches.

Code First

This section shows an example of how to write code to define data classes and then generate tables from the class properties.

  1. Create a new project in Visual Studio 2013 with FILE > New > Project. With a Template of Visual C# and Console Application highlighted, enter a name for your project, such as CodeStudents. Click OK

  2. Add InterSystems Entity Framework Provider to the project: Click TOOLS > Nuget Package Manager > Manage Nuget Packages for Solution. Expand Online > Package Source. InterSystems Entity Framework Provider 6 is displayed. Click Install > Ok > I Accept. Wait for the installation to complete and then click Close.

  3. Compile the project with Build > Build Solution.

  4. Tell the project which system to connect to by identifying it in the App.config file as follows. From the Solution Explorer window, open the App.config file. Add a <connectionStrings> section (like the example shown here) as the last section in the <configuration> section after the <entityFramework> section.


    Check that the server, port, namespace, username, and password are correct for your configuration.

          connectionString="SERVER = localhost;
             NAMESPACE = USER;
             METADATAFORMAT = mssql;
             USER = _SYSTEM;
             password = SYS;
             LOGFILE = C:\\Users\\Public\\logs\\cprovider.log;
             SQLDIALECT = iris;"
  5. In the Program.cs file, add

    using System.Data.Entity;
    using System.Data.Entity.Validation;
    using System.Data.Entity.Infrastructure;
  6. Define classes:

    public class Student
       public Student()
       public int StudentID { get; set; }
       public string StudentName { get; set; }
       public DateTime? DateOfBirth { get; set; }
       public byte[] Photo { get; set; }
       public decimal Height { get; set; }
       public float Weight { get; set; }
       public Standard Standard { get; set; }
    public class Standard
       public Standard()
       public int StandardId { get; set; }
       public string StandardName { get; set; }
       public ICollection<Student> Students { get; set; }
    public class SchoolContext : DbContext
       public SchoolContext() : base("name=SchoolDBConnectionString")
       public DbSet<Student> Students { get; set; }
       public DbSet<Standard> Standards { get; set; }

    Check that class SchoolContext points to your connection in App.config.

  7. Add code to Main.

    using (var ctx = new SchoolContext())
       Student stud = new Student() { StudentName = "New Student" };
  8. Compile and run.

Check the namespace (USER in this case). You see three tables created: dbo.Standards, dbo.Students (which has a new student added), and dbo._MigrationHistory (which holds information about table creation).

Database First

For instructions on how to set up the database used in the following examples, see “Setting Up a Sample Database” at the end of this chapter.

To use the database first approach, start with an existing database and use Entity Framemaker to generate code for a web application based on the fields of that database.

  1. Create a new project in Visual Studio 2013 with FILE > New > Project of type Visual C# > Console Application > OK.

  2. Click TOOLS > Nuget Package Manager > Manage Nuget Packages for Solution. Expand Online > Package Source, which lists InterSystems Entity Framework Provider 6. Click Install > Ok > Accept the license > Close.

  3. Compile the project with Build > Build Solution.

  4. Select PROJECT > Add New Item > Visual C# Items > Ado.NET Entity Data Model. You can give your model a name. Here we use the default of Model1. Click Add.

  5. In the Entity Data Model Wizard:

    1. Select EF Designer from database > Next

    2. In the Choose Your Data Connection screen, the data connection field should already be to your Northwind database. It doesn’t matter whether you select Yes, Include or No, exclude to the sensitive data question.

    3. On the bottom of screen you can define a connection settings name. The default is localhostEntities. This name is used later on.

    4. In the Choose Your Database Objects and Settings screen, answer the question Which Database objects do you want to include in your model? by selecting all objects: Tables, Views, and Stored Procedures and Functions. This includes all Northwind tables.

    5. Click Finish.

    6. In several seconds, you’ll see a Security Warning. Click OK to run the template.

    7. Visual Studio may display an Error List with many warnings. You can ignore these.

  6. For a model name of Model1, Visual Studio generates multiple files under Model1.edmx – including a UI diagram as Model1.edmx itself, classes representing tables under, and context class localhostEntities in>Model1.Context.cs.

    In the Solution Explorer window, you can inspect Model1.Context.cs. The constructor Constructer public localhostEntities() : base("name=localhostEntities") points to App.Config connection string:

             provider connection string=&quot;
  7. Compile your project with BUILD > Build Solution.

Below are two examples that you can paste into Main() in Program.cs:

You can traverse a list of customers using:

using (var context = new localhostEntities()) {
   var customers = context.Customers;
   foreach (var customer in customers) {
      string s = customer.CustomerID + '\t' + customer.ContactName;

You can get a list of orders for CustomerID using:

using (var context = new localhostEntities()) {
   var customerOrders = from c in context.Customers
      where (c.CustomerID == CustomerID)
         select new { c, c.Orders };

   foreach (var order in customerOrders) {
      for (int i = 0 ; i < order.Orders.Count; i++) {
         var orderElement = order.Orders.ElementAt(i);
         string sProduct = "";
         //Product names from OrderDetails table
         for (int j = 0; j < orderElement.OrderDetails.Count; j++)
            var product = orderElement.OrderDetails.ElementAt(j);
            sProduct += product.Product.ProductName;
            sProduct += ",";
         string date = orderElement.OrderDate.ToString();

Model First

Use the model first approach by generating a database model based on the diagram you created in the “Database First” section. Then generate a database from the model.

This example shows you how to create a database that contains two entities,

  1. Look at the Entity Framework UI edmx diagram Model1.edmx. In a blank area of the diagram, right-click and select Properties.

  2. Change DDL Generation Template to

  3. Compile Project.

  4. In a blank area of the diagram, right-click and select Generate Database From Model. After the DDL is generated, click Finish.

  5. Studio creates and opens the file Model1.edmx.sql.

  6. Import your table definitions into InterSystems by executing the following command in a terminal:

      do $SYSTEM.SQL.Schema.ImportDDL("MSSQL","_system","C:\\<myPath>\\Model1.edmx.sql")

Setting Up a Sample Database

If you want to set up a sample database for use with the “Database First” section, follow the steps in this section. These steps set up and load the sample database CreateNorthwindEFDB.sql.

  1. In the Management Portal, select System > Configuration > Namespaces and click Create New Namespace.

  2. Name your namespace NORTHWINDEF.

    1. For Select an Existing Database for Globals, click Create New Database. Enter NORTHWINDEF as the database and <installdir>\mgr\EFdatabase as the directory. Click Next and Finish

    2. For Select an Existing Database for Routines, select NORTHWINDEF from the dropdown list.

    3. Click Save.

  3. In the Management Portal, select System > Configuration > SQL and Object Settings > General SQL Settings.

    1. In the SQL tab, enter the Default SQL Schema Name as dbo.

    2. In the SQL tab, select Support Delimited Identifiers (default is on)

    3. In the DDL tab, select all items.

    4. Click Save.

  4. Select System > Configuration > SQL and Object Settings > TSQL Compatability Settings

    1. Set the DIALECT to MSSQL.


    3. Click Save.

  5. In a Terminal window, change to your new namespace with

    set $namespace=“NORTHWINDEF”
  6. If this is not the first time you are setting up the database, purge existing data with:

    do $SYSTEM.OBJ.DeleteAll("e")
    do $SYSTEM.SQL.Purge()
  7. If you have not already done so, using an unzip program, extract files from installdir\dev\dotnet\bin\v4.0.30319\ to a folder called IrisEF.

  8. To load the ddl, enter

    do $SYSTEM.SQL.DDLImport("MSSQL","_system","<installdir>\dev\dotnet\bin\v4.0.30319\IrisEF\CreateNorthwindEFDB.sql")

In the Server Explorer window, you can expand the InterSystems server entry to view NorthwindEF database elements: Tables, Views, Function, Procedures. You can examine each element, retrieve Data for Tables and Views, Execute Functions and Procedures. If you right-click an element and select Edit, Studio opens showing corresponding class and position on requested element if applicable.

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