Posts Tagged DAL

Using the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model with Entity Framework 5

Build a IIS-hosted WCF Service using the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model. Use basic HTTP Methods with the WCF Service to perform CRUD operations on a SQL Server database using a Data Access Layer, built with Entity Framework 5 and the Database First Development Model.

You can download a complete copy of this Post’s source code from DropBox.

Introduction

In the two previous Posts, we used the new Entity Framework 5 to create a Data Access Layer, using both the Code First and Database First Development Models. In this Post, we will create a Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Service. The service will sit between the client application and our previous Post’s Data Access Layer (DAL), built with an ADO.NET Entity Data Model (EDM). Using the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model, we will expose the WCF Service’s operations to a non-SOAP endpoint, and call them using HTTP Methods.

Why use the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model? WCF is a well-established, reliable, secure, enterprise technology. Many large, as well as small, organizations use WCF to build service-oriented applications. However, as communications become increasingly Internet-enabled and mobile, the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model allows us to add the use of simple HTTP methods, such as POST, GET, DELETE, and PUT, to existing WCF services. Adding a web endpoint to an existing WCF service extends its reach to modern end-user platforms with minimal effort. Lastly, using the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model allows us to move toward the increasingly popular RESTful Web Service Model, so many organizations are finally starting to embrace in the enterprise.

Creating the WCF Service

The major steps involved in this example are as follows:

  1. Create a new WCF Service Application Project;
  2. Add the Entity Framework package via NuGet;
  3. Add a Reference the previous Post’s DAL project;
  4. Add a Connection String to the project’s configuration;
  5. Create the WCF Service Contract;
  6. Create the operations the service will expose via a web endpoint;
  7. Configure the service’s behaviors, binding, and web endpoint;
  8. Publish the WCF Service to IIS using VS2012’s Web Project Publishing Tool;
  9. Test the service’s operations with Fiddler.

The WCF Service Application Project

Solution Explorer View of New Solution

Solution Explorer View of New Solution for Reference

Start by creating a new Visual Studio 2012 WCF Service Application Project, named ‘HealthTracker.WcfService’. Add it to a new Solution, named ‘HealthTracker’. The WCF Service Application Project type is specifically designed to be hosted by Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS).

Create New WCF Service Application Project

Create New WCF Service Application Project

Once the Project and Solution are created, install Entity Framework (‘System.Data.Entity’) into the Solution by right-clicking on the Solution and selecting ‘Manage NuGet Packages for Solution…’ Install the ‘EntityFramework’ package. If you haven’t discovered the power of NuGet for Visual Studio, check out their site.

Manage NuGet Packages - Add Entity Framework to Solution

Manage NuGet Packages – Add Entity Framework to Solution

Next, add a Reference in the new Project, to the previous ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst’ Project. When the WCF Service Application Project is built, a copy of the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst.dll’ assembly will be placed into the ‘bin’ folder of the ‘HealthTracker.WcfService’ Project.

Adding Reference to Previous EF5 Database First Project

Add a Reference to Previous EF5 Database First Project

Next, copy the connection string from the previous project’s ‘App.Config file’ and paste into the new WCF Service Application Project’s ‘Web.config’ file. The connection is required by the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst.dll’ assembly. The connection string should look similar to the below code.

<connectionStrings>
    <add name="HealthTrackerEntities" connectionString="metadata=res://*/HealthTracker.csdl|res://*/HealthTracker.ssdl|res://*/HealthTracker.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;data source=[Your_Server]\[Your_SQL_Instance];initial catalog=HealthTracker;persist security info=True;user id=DemoLogin;password=[Your_Password];MultipleActiveResultSets=True;App=EntityFramework&quot;" providerName="System.Data.EntityClient" />
</connectionStrings>

The WCF Service

Delete the default ‘Service.svc’ and ‘IService.cs’ created by the Project Template. You can also delete the default ‘App_Data’ folder. Add a new WCF Service, named ‘HealthTrackerWcfService.svc’. Adding a new service creates both the WCF Service file (.svc), as well as a WCF Service Contract file (.cs), an Interface, named ‘IHealthTrackerWcfService.cs’. The ‘HealthTrackerWcfService’ class implements the ‘IHealthTrackerWcfService’ Interface class (‘public class HealthTrackerWcfService : IHealthTrackerWcfService’).

Add New WCF Service to Project

Add New WCF Service to Project

The WCF Service file contains public methods, called service operations, which the service will expose through a web endpoint. The second file, an Interface class, is referred to as the Service Contract. The Service Contract contains the method signatures of all the operations the service’s web endpoint expose. The Service Contract contains attributes, part of the ‘System.ServiceModel’ and ‘System.ServiceModel.Web’ Namespaces, describing how the service and its operation will be exposed. To create the Service Contract, replace the default code in the file, ‘IHealthTrackerWcfService.cs’, with the following code.

using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ServiceModel;
using System.ServiceModel.Web;
using HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst;

namespace HealthTracker.WcfService
{
    [ServiceContract]
    public interface IHealthTrackerWcfService
    {
        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "GetPersonId?name={personName}",
            Method = "GET")]
        int GetPersonId(string personName);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "GetPeople",
            Method = "GET")]
        List<Person> GetPeople();

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "GetPersonSummaryStoredProc?id={personId}",
            Method = "GET")]
        List<GetPersonSummary_Result> GetPersonSummaryStoredProc(int personId);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "InsertPerson",
            Method = "POST")]
        bool InsertPerson(Person person);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "UpdatePerson",
            Method = "PUT")]
        bool UpdatePerson(Person person);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "DeletePerson?id={personId}",
            Method = "DELETE")]
        bool DeletePerson(int personId);
        
        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "UpdateOrInsertHydration?id={personId}",
            Method = "POST")]
        bool UpdateOrInsertHydration(int personId);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "InsertActivity",
            Method = "POST")]
        bool InsertActivity(Activity activity);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "DeleteActivity?id={activityId}",
            Method = "DELETE")]
        bool DeleteActivity(int activityId);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "GetActivities?id={personId}",
            Method = "GET")]
        List<ActivityDetail> GetActivities(int personId);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "InsertMeal",
            Method = "POST")]
        bool InsertMeal(Meal meal);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "DeleteMeal?id={mealId}",
            Method = "DELETE")]
        bool DeleteMeal(int mealId);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "GetMeals?id={personId}",
            Method = "GET")]
        List<MealDetail> GetMeals(int personId);

        [OperationContract]
        [WebInvoke(UriTemplate = "GetPersonSummaryView?id={personId}",
            Method = "GET")]
        List<PersonSummaryView> GetPersonSummaryView(int personId);
    }
}

The service’s operations use a variety of HTTP Methods, including GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. The operations take a mix of primitive data types, as well as complex objects as arguments. The operations also return the same variety of simple data types, as well as complex objects. Note the operation ‘InsertActivity’ for example. It takes a complex object, an ‘Activity’, as an argument, and returns a Boolean. All the CRUD operations dealing with inserting, updating, or deleting data return a Boolean, indicating success or failure of the operation’s execution. This makes unit testing and error handling on the client-side easier.

Next, we will create the WCF Service. Replace the existing contents of the ‘HealthTrackerWcfService.svc’ file with the following code.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Linq;
using System.ServiceModel;
using HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst;

namespace HealthTracker.WcfService
{
    [ServiceBehavior(AddressFilterMode = AddressFilterMode.Any)]
    public class HealthTrackerWcfService : IHealthTrackerWcfService
    {
        private readonly DateTime _today = DateTime.Now.Date;

        #region Service Operations
        /// <summary>
        /// Example of Adding a new Person.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="person">New Person Object</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool InsertPerson(Person person)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    dbContext.People.Add(new DataAccess.DbFirst.Person { Name = person.Name });
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of Updating a Person.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="person">New Person Object</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool UpdatePerson(Person person)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var personToUpdate = dbContext.People.First(p => p.PersonId == person.PersonId);
                    if (personToUpdate == null) return false;
                    personToUpdate.Name = person.Name;
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of deleting a Person.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">PersonId</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool DeletePerson(int personId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var personToDelete = dbContext.People.First(p => p.PersonId == personId);
                    if (personToDelete == null) return false;
                    dbContext.People.Remove(personToDelete);
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of finding a Person's Id.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personName">Name of the Person to find</param>
        /// <returns>Person's unique Id (PersonId)</returns>
        public int GetPersonId(string personName)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var personId = dbContext.People
                                            .Where(person => person.Name == personName)
                                            .Select(person => person.PersonId)
                                            .First();
                    return personId;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return -1;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Returns a list of all People.
        /// </summary>
        /// <returns>List of People</returns>
        public List<Person> GetPeople()
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var people = (dbContext.People.Select(p => p));
                    var peopleList = people.Select(p => new Person
                                                            {
                                                                PersonId = p.PersonId,
                                                                Name = p.Name
                                                            }).ToList();

                    return peopleList;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return null;
            }
        }
        /// <summary>
        /// Example of adding a Meal.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="meal">New Meal Object</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool InsertMeal(Meal meal)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    dbContext.Meals.Add(new DataAccess.DbFirst.Meal
                                            {
                                                PersonId = meal.PersonId,
                                                Date = _today,
                                                MealTypeId = meal.MealTypeId,
                                                Description = meal.Description
                                            });
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of deleting a Meal.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="mealId">MealId</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool DeleteMeal(int mealId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var mealToDelete = dbContext.Meals.First(m => m.MealTypeId == mealId);
                    if (mealToDelete == null) return false;
                    dbContext.Meals.Remove(mealToDelete);
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return all Meals for a Person.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">PersonId</param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        public List<MealDetail> GetMeals(int personId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var meals = dbContext.Meals.Where(m => m.PersonId == personId)
                                         .Select(m => new MealDetail
                                                          {
                                                              MealId = m.MealId,
                                                              Date = m.Date,
                                                              Type = m.MealType.Description,
                                                              Description = m.Description
                                                          }).ToList();
                    return meals;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return null;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of adding an Activity.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="activity">New Activity Object</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool InsertActivity(Activity activity)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    dbContext.Activities.Add(new DataAccess.DbFirst.Activity
                                                 {
                                                     PersonId = activity.PersonId,
                                                     Date = _today,
                                                     ActivityTypeId = activity.ActivityTypeId,
                                                     Notes = activity.Notes
                                                 });
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }

        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of deleting a Activity.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="activityId">ActivityId</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool DeleteActivity(int activityId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var activityToDelete = dbContext.Activities.First(a => a.ActivityId == activityId);
                    if (activityToDelete == null) return false;
                    dbContext.Activities.Remove(activityToDelete);
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return all Activities for a Person.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">PersonId</param>
        /// <returns>List of Activities</returns>
        public List<ActivityDetail> GetActivities(int personId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var activities = dbContext.Activities.Where(a => a.PersonId == personId)
                                              .Select(a => new ActivityDetail
                                                               {
                                                                   ActivityId = a.ActivityId,
                                                                   Date = a.Date,
                                                                   Type = a.ActivityType.Description,
                                                                   Notes = a.Notes
                                                               }).ToList();
                    return activities;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return null;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of updating existing Hydration count.
        /// Else adding new Hydration if it doesn't exist.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">PersonId</param>
        /// <returns>True if successful</returns>
        public bool UpdateOrInsertHydration(int personId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var existingHydration = dbContext.Hydrations.First(
                        hydration => hydration.PersonId == personId
                                     && hydration.Date == _today);

                    if (existingHydration != null && existingHydration.HydrationId > 0)
                    {
                        existingHydration.Count++;
                        dbContext.SaveChanges();
                        return true;
                    }

                    dbContext.Hydrations.Add(new Hydration
                                                 {
                                                     PersonId = personId,
                                                     Date = _today,
                                                     Count = 1
                                                 });
                    dbContext.SaveChanges();
                    return true;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return false;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return a count of all Meals, Hydrations, and Activities for a Person.
        /// Based on a Database View (virtual table).
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">PersonId</param>
        /// <returns>Summary for a Person</returns>
        public List<PersonSummaryView> GetPersonSummaryView(int personId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var personView = (dbContext.PersonSummaryViews
                                               .Where(p => p.PersonId == personId))
                                               .ToList();
                    return personView;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return null;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return a count of all Meals, Hydrations, and Activities for a Person.
        /// Based on a Stored Procedure.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">PersonId</param>
        /// <returns>Summary for a Person</returns>
        public List<GetPersonSummary_Result> GetPersonSummaryStoredProc(int personId)
        {
            try
            {
                using (var dbContext = new HealthTrackerEntities())
                {
                    var personView = (dbContext.GetPersonSummary(personId)
                                               .Where(p => p.PersonId == personId))
                                               .ToList();
                    return personView;
                }
            }
            catch (Exception exception)
            {
                Debug.WriteLine(exception);
                return null;
            }
        }

        #endregion
    }

    #region POCO Classes

    public class Person
    {
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public string Name { get; set; }
    }

    public class Meal
    {
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public int MealTypeId { get; set; }
        public string Description { get; set; }
    }

    public class MealDetail
    {
        public int MealId { get; set; }
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }
        public string Type { get; set; }
        public string Description { get; set; }
    }

    public class Activity
    {
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public int ActivityTypeId { get; set; }
        public string Notes { get; set; }
    }

    public class ActivityDetail
    {
        public int ActivityId { get; set; }
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }
        public string Type { get; set; }
        public string Notes { get; set; }
    }

    #endregion
}

Each method instantiates an instance of ‘HeatlthTrackerEntities’, Referenced by the project and accessible to the class via the ‘using HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst;’ statement, ‘HeatlthTrackerEntities’ implements ‘System.Data.Entity.DBContext’. Each method uses LINQ to Entities to interact with the Entity Data Model, through the ‘HeatlthTrackerEntities’ object.

In addition to the methods (service operations) contained in the HealthTrackerWcfService class, there are several POCO classes. Some of these POCO classes, such as ‘NewMeal’ and ‘NewActivity’, are instantiated to hold data passed in the operation’s arguments by the client Request message. Other POCO classes, such as ‘MealDetail’ and ‘ActivityDetail’, are instantiated to hold data passed back to the client by the operations, in the Response message. These POCO instances are serialized to and deserialized from JSON or XML.

The WCF Service’s Configuration

The most complex and potentially the most confusing part of creating a WCF Service, at least for me, is always the service’s configuration. Due in part to the flexibility of WCF Services to accommodate many types of client, server, network, and security situations, the configuration of the services takes an in-depth understanding of bindings, behaviors, endpoints, security, and associated settings. The best books I’ve found on configuring WCF Services is Pro WCF 4: Practical Microsoft SOA Implementation, by Nishith Pathak. The book goes into great detail on all aspects of configuring WCF Services to meet your particular project’s needs.

Since we are only using the WCF Web HTTP Programming Model to build and expose our service, the ‘webHttpBinding’ binding is the only binding we need to configure. I have made an effort to strip out all the unnecessary boilerplate settings from our service’s configuration.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<configuration>
    <configSections>
        <section name="entityFramework" type="System.Data.Entity.Internal.ConfigFile.EntityFrameworkSection, EntityFramework, Version=5.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089" requirePermission="false" />
    </configSections>
    <appSettings>
        <add key="aspnet:UseTaskFriendlySynchronizationContext" value="true" />
    </appSettings>
    <system.web>
        <compilation debug="true" targetFramework="4.5" />
        <httpRuntime targetFramework="4.5" />
    </system.web>
    <system.serviceModel>
        <serviceHostingEnvironment aspNetCompatibilityEnabled="true" />
        <behaviors>
            <endpointBehaviors>
                <behavior name="webHttpBehavior">
                    <webHttp helpEnabled="true" defaultOutgoingResponseFormat="Json"
                             defaultBodyStyle="Bare" automaticFormatSelectionEnabled="true"/>
                </behavior>
            </endpointBehaviors>
        </behaviors>
        <services>
            <service name="HealthTracker.WcfService.HealthTrackerWcfService">
                <endpoint address="web" binding="webHttpBinding" behaviorConfiguration="webHttpBehavior"
                          contract="HealthTracker.WcfService.IHealthTrackerWcfService" />
            </service>
        </services>
    </system.serviceModel>
    <system.webServer>
        <modules runAllManagedModulesForAllRequests="true" />
        <directoryBrowse enabled="false" />
    </system.webServer>
    <entityFramework>
        <defaultConnectionFactory type="System.Data.Entity.Infrastructure.SqlConnectionFactory, EntityFramework" />
    </entityFramework>
    <connectionStrings>
        <add name="HealthTrackerEntities" connectionString="metadata=res://*/HealthTracker.csdl|res://*/HealthTracker.ssdl|res://*/HealthTracker.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;data source=gstafford-windows-laptop\DEVELOPMENT;initial catalog=HealthTracker;persist security info=True;user id=DemoLogin;password=DemoLogin123;MultipleActiveResultSets=True;App=EntityFramework&quot;" providerName="System.Data.EntityClient" />
    </connectionStrings>
</configuration>

Some items to note in the configuration:

  • Line 4: Entity Framework – The Entity Framework 5 reference you added earlier via NuGet.
  • Line 18: Help – This enables an automatically generated Help page, displaying all the service’s operations for the endpoint, with details on how to call each operation.
  • Lines 18-19: Request and Response Message Formats – Default settings for message format and body style of Request and Response messages. In this case, JSON and Bare. Setting defaults saves lots of time, not having to add attributes to each individual operation.
  • Line 25-26: Endpoint – The service’s single endpoint, with a single binding and behavior. For this Post, we are only using the ‘webHttpBinding’ binding type.
  • Line 38: Connection String – The SQL Server Connection String you copied from the previous Post’s Project. Required by the DAL Project Reference you added, earlier.

Deploying the Service to IIS

Now that the service is complete, we will deploy and host it in IIS. There are many options when it comes to creating and configuring a new website – setting up domain names, choosing ports, configuring firewalls, defining bindings, setting permissions, and so forth. This Post will not go into that level of detail. I will demonstrate how I chose to set up my website and publish my WCF Service.

We need a physical location to deploy the WCF Service’s contents. I recommend a location outside of the IIS root directory, such as ‘C:\HealthTrackerWfcService’. Create this folder on the server where you will be running IIS, either locally or remotely. This folder is where we will publish the service’s contents to from Visual Studio, next.

Create a new website in IIS to host the service. Name the site ‘HealthTracker’. You can configure and use a domain name or a specific port, from which to call the service. I chose to configure a domain name on my IIS Server, ”WcfService.HealthTracker.com’. If you are unsure how to setup a new domain name on your network, then a local, open port is probably easier for you. Pick any random port, like 15678.

Create New Website in IIS to Host Service

Create New Website in IIS to Host Service

Publish the WCF Service to the deployment location, explained above, using Visual Studio 2012’s Web Project Publishing Tool. Exactly how and where you set-up your website, and any security considerations, will affect the configuration of the Publishing Tool’s Profile. My options will not necessarily work for your specific environment.

Testing the WCF Service

Congratulations, your service is deployed. Now, let’s see if it works. Before we test the individual operations, we will ensure the service is being hosted correctly. Open the service’s Help page. This page automatically shows details on all operations of a particular endpoint. The address should follow the convention of http://%5Byour_domain%5D:%5Byour_port%5D/%5Byour_service%5D/%5Byour_endpoint_address%5D/help. In my case ‘http://wcfservice.healthtracker.com/HealthTrackerWcfService.svc/web/help&#8217;. If this page displays, then the service is deployed correctly and it’s web endpoint is responding as expected.

WCF Service Operations Displayed at Help URL

WCF Service Help Page – Service Endpoint Operations

While on the Help page, click on any of the HTTP Methods to see a further explanation of that particular operation. This page is especially useful for copying the URL of the operation for use in Fiddler. It is even more useful for grabbing the sample JSON or XML Request messages. Just substitute your test values for the default values, in Fiddler. It saves a lot of typing and many potential errors.

WCF Service Help Page - Example Request Body

WCF Service Help Page – Example Request Body

Fiddler

The easiest way to test each of the service’s operations is Fiddler. Download and install Fiddler, if you don’t already have it. Using Fiddler, construct a Request message and call the operations by executing the operation’s associated HTTP Method. Below is an example of calling the ‘InsertActivity’ operation. This CRUD operation accepts a new Activity object as an argument, inserts into the database via the Entity Data Model, and returns a Boolean value indicating success.

To call the ‘InsertActivity’ operation, 1) select the ‘POST’ HTTP method, 2) input the URL for the ‘InsertActivity’ operation, 3) select a version of HTTP (1.2), 4) input the Content-Type (JSON or XML) in the Request Headers section, 5) input the body of the Request, a new ‘Activity’ as JSON, in the Request Body section, and 6) select ‘Execute’. The 7) Response should appear in the Web Sessions window.

Fiddler Example - InsertActivity Operation Request

Fiddler Example – InsertActivity Operation Request

Executing the 1) Request (constructed above), should result in a 2) Response in the Web Sessions window. Double clicking on the Web Session should result in the display of the 3) Response message in the lower righthand window. The operation returns a Boolean indicating if the operation succeeded or failed. In this case, we received a value of ‘true’.

Fiddler Example - InsertActivity Operation Response

Fiddler Example – InsertActivity Operation Response

To view the Activity we just inserted, we need to call the ‘GetActivities’ operation, passing it the same ‘PersonId’ argument. In Fiddler, 1) select the ‘GET’ HTTP method, 2) input the URL for the ‘GetActivities’ operation including a value for the ‘PersonId’ argument, 3) select the desired version of HTTP (1.2), 4) input a Content-Type (JSON or XML) in the Request Headers section, and 5) select ‘Execute’. Same as before, the 6) Response should appear in the Web Sessions window. This time there is no Request body content.

Fiddler Example - GetActivities Operation Request

Fiddler Example – GetActivities Operation Request

As before, executing the 1) Request should result in a 2) Response in the Web Sessions window. Doubling clicking on the Web Session should result in the display of the 3) Response in the lower left window. This method returns a JSON payload with each Activity, associated with the PersonId argument.

Fiddler Example - GetActivities Operation Response

Fiddler Example – GetActivities Operation Response

You can use this same process to test all the other operations at the WCF Service’s endpoint. You can also save the Request message or complete Web Sessions in Fiddler should you need to re-test.

Conclusion

We now have a WCF Service deployed and running in IIS, and tested. The service’s operations can be called from any application capable of making an HTTP call. Thank you for taking the time to read this Post. I hope you found it beneficial.

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Database First Development with Entity Framework 5 in Visual Studio 2012

Build and test a Data Access Layer (DAL) using Entity Framework 5 and Database First Development in Visual Studio 2012. Use the Entity Framework Designer to build an ADO.NET Entity Data Model containing database tables, views, stored procedures, and scalar-valued functions. An updated version of this project’s source code, using EF6 is now available on GitHub. The GitHub repository contains all three Entity Framework blog posts.

HealthTracker EDMX Diagram

Introduction

In the last post, we explored Microsoft’s new Entity Framework 5 with Code First Development. In this post, we will explore Entity Framework 5 with Database First Development. We will be using the same data model as before. However, this time instead of POCOs, we will start with a SQL Server 2008 R2 database and use the Entity Framework Designer to build an ADO.NET Entity Data Model (EDM). In addition to database tables, we will look at Entity Framework’s ability to support database views (virtual tables), stored procedures, and scalar-valued functions.

Download a complete copy of the post’s source code, with SQL scripts to create the database objects and populate the database with sample data, from DropBox.

Entity Framework’s Code First and Model First development offer many great options for .NET developers. However, in my experience, most enterprise-level application developers work with a Database First Development model. Using Database First Development, Entity Framework 5 (EF5) provides the ability to construct a powerful yet easy-to-implement data access layer (DAL) between the database and the business logic.

The steps involved in this example are as follows:

  1. Create the new SQL Server database;
  2. Create the database objects;
  3. Create a new C# Class Library Project in Visual Studio 2012 Solution;
  4. Add a new ADO.NET Entity Data Model to project;
  5. Create a new Database Connection;
  6. Import the database objects into the EDM;
  7. Modify the EDM to accommodate the scalar-valued functions;
  8. Populate the database with sample data;
  9. Validate the EDM using a Unit Test Project;

Below is a final view of the entire Solution for reference as you work through the post.

Solution Explorer View of Final Solution

Solution Explorer View of Final Solution

The Database

Using SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio (SSMS), Toad for SQL, or similar application, create a new database, named ‘HealthTracker’. I left all the default database settings unchanged for this post.

Create the New Health Tracker Database

Create the New Health Tracker Database

Next, execute the supplied sql script to populate the HealthTracker database with the necessary database objects. The script should insert the following objects: (6) tables, (1) view, (1) stored procedure, (3) scalar-valued functions, and all the necessary table relationships. All objects will be members of the default ‘dbo’ schema.

Database in SQL Server Object Viewer

Database in SQL Server Object Viewer

Barring a few minor changes, this data model is identical to the one we built in the last post using Code First Development with POCOs. The below Database Diagram illustrates the one-to-many relationships between the tables. The tables are pluralized in the database, as opposed to singular in the ADO.NET Entity Data Model (Meals vs. Meal, People vs. Person, etc.). This is a common pattern with Entity Framework.

Database Diagram of Table Relationships

Database Diagram of Table Relationships

Optional: Setting Up Database Credentials

For security and simplicity, I choose to add a new Login, User, and Role to the database. This step is not necessary for this post. However, it is good to get into the habit of securing your database, using database Logins, Users, Roles, and Permissions. In addition, if you are planning to deploy the database and the DAL to other environments such as Test or Production, don’t tie your Solution to personal credentials, a machine-specific account, or to an administrative role in the database with overly broad permissions.

The Database User, DemoUser, is associated with the Login, DemoLogin. DemoUser is a member of the Database Role, DemoRole. I will use the DemoLogin account to connect the EDM to the database. DemoRole has the minimal required database permissions the Entity will need to function: Alter, Insert, Delete, Execute, Select, Update, and View definition. DemoUser only needs Connect permission. Again, this step is optional. You can use your own credentials if you choose.

Included with the downloadable code is a third sql script that should create the User, Role, Login, and required Permissions, if you choose to use them to follow along with the post.

Database Permissions for User and Role

Database Permissions for User and Role

The Data Access Layer

Following good software design principles, we will separate our concerns between Projects. We want to create a Data Access Layer (DAL), to act as an interface between our database and our business logic. We don’t want to interact with the data directly in our DAL Project. By separating the DAL into its own project, we can reference that project’s assembly (.dll) from any other project, be it another class library (our business logic), a WCF service, WPF, Silverlight or console application, or an ASP.NET site. To start, create a new Visual C# Class Library. Name it ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst’. Create a new Solution for the Project in the same dialog box, named ‘HealthTracker’.

New Visual C# Windows Class Library Project

New Visual C# Windows Class Library Project

First, install Entity Framework (System.Data.Entity namespace classes) into the Solution by right clicking on the Solution and selecting ‘Manage NuGet Packages for Solution…’. Install the ‘EntityFramework’ package. If you haven’t discovered the power of NuGet with Visual Studio, check out their site.

Manage NuGet Packages - Install EntityFramework Package

Manage NuGet Packages – Install EntityFramework Package

Next, add a new ‘ADO.NET Entity Data Model’ item, named ‘HealthTracker.edmx’, to the HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst project. According to Microsoft, an .edmx file also contains information used by the ADO.NET Entity Data Model Designer (Entity Designer) to render a model graphically. An .edmx file is the combination of three metadata files: the conceptual schema definition language (CSDL), store schema definition language (SSDL), and mapping specification language (MSL) files. For more information, see .edmx File Overview (Entity Framework).

Adding the ADO.NET Entity Data Model to Project

Adding the ADO.NET Entity Data Model to Project

Adding the ADO.NET Entity Data Model item will start the Entity Data Model Wizard. Since we are exploring Database First Development, select ‘Generate from Database’.

Entity Data Model Wizard - Generate from Database

Entity Data Model Wizard – Generate from Database

Next, we will be prompted to choose a data connection. Since this is the first time we are accessing our newly created HealthTracker database, we need to create a new data connection. Select ‘New Connection…’

Entity Data Model Wizard - Choose Your Data Connection

The options you chose in the ‘Connection Properties’ dialog window, such as the server and instance name, will depend on your own SQL Server configuration and the method you chose to log onto the server. As mentioned before, I will use the ‘DemoLogin’ account. The connection string will reside in the project’s app.config file. Make sure to always chose ‘Test Connection’ to verify you have configured the Data Connection properly.

New Connection - Database Connection Properties

New Connection – Database Connection Properties

Once the data connection is established, we are prompted to add the database objects to the EDM. Only add the objects that we created earlier with the sql script.

Entity Data Model Wizard - Choose Your Database Objects

Entity Data Model Wizard – Choose Your Database Objects

When the import is complete, the EDM should look like the following in the Entity Designer. You should see the six table entities, with one-to-many associations between them, as well as the one view entity, ‘PersonSummaryView’. Each database object you imported is referred to as an entity. Drag the entities into any position you want on the Design surface.

HealthTracker Entity Data Model Diagram

HealthTracker Entity Data Model Diagram

Similarly, when the import is complete, the EDM should look like the following in the Model Browser.

Model Browser - View the of the Entity Data Model

Model Browser – View of the Entity Data Model

Stored Procedures

You recall we imported a stored procedure, ‘GetPersonSummary’. What happened to that object? In the Model Browser, double-click on the GetPersonSummary item under the Function Imports. The stored procedure was imported into the EDM by EF. The results the procedure returns from the database is associated with a new complex object type, ‘GetPersonSummary_Result’.

Function Import - Stored Procedure

Function Import – Stored Procedure

Scalar Functions

If you view the sql code for the above stored procedure, ‘GetPersonSummary’, you will note it calls three scalar-valued functions. These three happen to be the three functions we imported into the EDM. Each function takes a single input parameter, ‘personId’, and returns an integer value – the count of Meals, Activities, and Hydrations for a that Person, based on their Id.

We can also call the scalar-valued functions directly. Unfortunately, in my experience, working scalar-valued functions in Entity Framework is still not as easy as tables, views, and stored procedures. I have found two methods to work with scalar-valued functions. The first method is a bit of hack in my opinion, but it works. The method is documented in several Internet posts, including this one on Stack Overflow.

This method requires some minor changes of the .edmx file’s xml, directly. To do so, right-click on the .edmx file and select ‘Open With…’, ‘XML (Text) Editor’. This is how the functions looks in the .edmx file before changes:

<Function Name="CountActivities" ReturnType="int" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="false" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion" Schema="dbo">
    <Parameter Name="personId" Type="int" Mode="In" />
</Function>
<Function Name="CountHydrations" ReturnType="int" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="true" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion" Schema="dbo">
    <Parameter Name="personId" Type="int" Mode="In" />
</Function>
<Function Name="CountMeals" ReturnType="int" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="true" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion" Schema="dbo">
    <Parameter Name="personId" Type="int" Mode="In" />
</Function>

Remove the ‘ReturnType’ attribute from the <Function /> element. Then, add a <CommandText /> element to each of the <Function /> elements. See the modified .edmx file below for the contents of the <CommandText /> elements.

<Function Name="CountActivities" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="false" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion" Schema="dbo">
    <CommandText>
        SELECT [dbo].[CountActivities] (@personId)
    </CommandText>
    <Parameter Name="personId" Type="int" Mode="In" />
</Function>
<Function Name="CountHydrations" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="true" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion" Schema="dbo">
    <CommandText>
        SELECT [dbo].[CountHydrations] (@personId)
    </CommandText>
    <Parameter Name="personId" Type="int" Mode="In" />
</Function>
<Function Name="CountMeals" Aggregate="false" BuiltIn="false" NiladicFunction="false" IsComposable="true" ParameterTypeSemantics="AllowImplicitConversion" Schema="dbo">
    <CommandText>
        SELECT [dbo].[CountMeals] (@personId)
    </CommandText>
    <Parameter Name="personId" Type="int" Mode="In" />
</Function>

Next, in the Model Browser, right-click on the ‘Function Imports’ folder and select ‘Add Function Import…’ This brings up the ‘Add Function Import’ dialog window. We will import the ‘CountActivities’ scalar-valued function to show this method. Enter the following information in the dialog window and select Save:

Function Import - Scalar-valued Function

Function Import – Scalar-valued Function

You can do the same for the other two scalar-valued functions, if you choose. We will only test the ‘CountActivities’ function, next with our Unit Tests. The downside of this method is the edits to the .edmx file will be lost when you update the EDM from the database. You will have to re-edit the .edmx file each time. This not a great solution.

The second method to call a scalar-valued function uses a feature of Entity Framework 5, the ‘Database.SqlQuery Method (String, Object[])’ Method. According to Microsoft, an instance of this class is obtained from an DbContext object and can be used to manage the actual database backing a DbContext or connection. Using ‘SqlQuery’ method, a raw SQL query that will return elements of the given generic type is created. The type can be any type that has properties that match the names of the columns returned from the query, or can be a simple primitive type.

Below is an example of the method’s use, similar to code in the Unit Test Project we will create next, to test our EDM.

using (HealthTrackerEntities context = new HealthTrackerEntities())
{
    string sqlQuery = "SELECT [dbo].[CountMeals] ({0})";
    Object[] parameters = { 1 };
    int activityCount = db.Database.SqlQuery<int>(sqlQuery, parameters).FirstOrDefault();
}

This method allows us to call the scalar-valued function directly from the database, just as we could any other object using a sql query. The downside of this method is that we are not really taking advantage of the EDM we constructed. It is easier than the first method and it doesn’t need continued changes if we update the EDM. Undoubtedly, there are better methods out there than I have presented here.

Testing the Entity Data Model

To confirm that the EDM is functioning properly, we will create and execute a series of Unit Tests. In reality, although we will be using Visual Studio’s Unit Test Project type, the tests are more like functional tests than true unit tests. This is especially true because we are writing the tests after we have completed development our DAL’s EDM.

We will perform minimal testing of the EDM’s tables, view, stored procedure, and scalar-valued functions, with a series of several simple tests. The tests are only meant to demonstrate the type of tests you could use across all entities in the Model to confirm various functions.

Sample Data

In SSMS or VS2012, execute the supplied sql script that populates the database with test data. The script contains a variety of Meal Types, Activity Types, People, Meals, Activities, and Hydrations table records. Note the script deletes all existing data from those tables. Below is a sample of the Meal table’s sample data.

Sample Meal Data

Sample Meal Data

The Unit Test Project

After adding the sample data to the HealthTracker database, add a new Visual Studio 2012 Unit Test Project, named ‘HealthTracker.UnitTests’, to the ‘HealthTracker’ Solution.

Add New Unit Test Project to Solution

Add New Unit Test Project to Solution

Next, add a Reference to the Unit Test Project from our DAL, the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst’ Project. This step adds the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst.dll’ assembly to our Unit Test Project.

Add Entity Data Model Project Reference to Unit Test Project

Add Entity Data Model Project Reference to Unit Test Project

Next, we need to add the same Database Connection we used in the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst’ Project, to this Project. I always forget this step and end up with a database connection error the first time I try to run a new project. Right-click on the Unit Test Project and select ‘Add New Item…’ Add an ‘Application Configuration File’ item, named ‘app.config’, to the Unit Test Project.

Add Application Configuration File to Unit Test Project

Add Application Configuration File to Unit Test Project

Open the corresponding Application Configuration File in the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst’ Project and copy the <connectionStrings /> element to our Unit Test Project’s app.config file. The file’s contents should look similar to the following when complete (note, your ‘connectionString’ attribute will have different values).

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<configuration>
    <connectionStrings>
        <add name="HealthTrackerEntities" connectionString="metadata=res://*/HealthTracker.csdl|res://*/HealthTracker.ssdl|res://*/HealthTracker.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=&quot;data source=gstafford-windows-laptop\DEVELOPMENT;initial catalog=HealthTracker;persist security info=True;user id=DemoLogin;password=DemoLogin123;MultipleActiveResultSets=True;App=EntityFramework&quot;" providerName="System.Data.EntityClient" />
    </connectionStrings>
</configuration>

Lastly, rename the default ‘UnitTest’ class in the Unit Test Project to ‘HealthTrackerUnitTests’. Enter or copy and paste the contents of the supplied HealthTrackerUnitTests.cs file to this file. The supplied file contains all the unit tests.

using System.Linq;
using Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UnitTesting;
using HealthTracker.DataAccess.DbFirst;

namespace HealthTracker.UnitTests
{
    [TestClass]
    public class HealthTrackerUnitTests
    {
        private const string PersonOriginal = "John Doe";
        private const string PersonNew = "New Person";
        private const string PersonNameUpdated = "Updated Name";

        /// <summary>
        /// Delete any non-sample People from the database created by previous tests
        /// </summary>
        [TestInitialize]
        public void RemoveNonSamplePeople()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                var peopleToDelete = db.People
                    .Where(person => person.PersonId > 4);

                foreach (var personToDelete in peopleToDelete)
                {
                    db.People.Remove(personToDelete);
                }
                db.SaveChanges();
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return the count of People in the database, which should be 4.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void PersonCountTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                var personCount = (db.People.Select(p => p)).Count();
                Assert.IsTrue(personCount > 0);
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return the PersonId of 'John Doe', which should be is 1.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void PersonIdTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                var personId = db.People
                    .Where(person => person.Name == PersonOriginal)
                    .Select(person => person.PersonId)
                    .First();
                Assert.AreEqual(1, personId);
            }
        }
        /// <summary>
        /// Insert a new Person into the database.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void PersonAddNewTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                // Setup test
                db.People.Add(new Person { Name = PersonNew });
                db.SaveChanges();

                // Test 1
                var personCount = (db.People.Select(p => p)).Count();
                Assert.AreEqual(5, personCount);

                // Test 2
                var newPersonFound = db.People.FirstOrDefault(
                    person => person.Name == PersonNew);
                Assert.IsNotNull(newPersonFound);
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Update a Person's name in the database.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void PersonUpdateNameTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                // Setup test
                var personToUpdate = db.People.FirstOrDefault(
                    person => person.Name == PersonOriginal);

                if (personToUpdate != null) personToUpdate.Name = PersonNameUpdated;
                db.SaveChanges();

                // Test
                var updatedPerson = db.People.FirstOrDefault(
                    person => person.Name == PersonNameUpdated);
                Assert.IsNotNull(updatedPerson);

                // Tear down test
                var personToRevert = db.People.FirstOrDefault(
                    person => person.Name == PersonNameUpdated);

                if (personToRevert != null) personToRevert.Name = PersonOriginal;
                db.SaveChanges();
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Return the Meal count from PersonSummaryViews database view, which should be 21.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void PersonSummaryViewTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                var mealCount = (db.PersonSummaryViews
                    .Where(p => p.PersonId == 1)
                    .Select(p => p.MealsCount))
                    .First();
                Assert.AreEqual(21, mealCount);
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Call CountActivities scalar-valued function directly from in the database.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void ActivtyCountFunctionFromDatabaseTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                object[] parameters = { 1 };
                var activityCount = db.Database.SqlQuery<int>(
                    "SELECT [dbo].[CountActivities] ({0})",
                    parameters).FirstOrDefault();
                Assert.AreEqual(7, activityCount);
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Call CountActivities scalar-valued function from the Entity Data Model.
        /// </summary>
        [TestMethod]
        public void ActivtyCountFunctionFromEntityTest()
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerEntities())
            {
                var activityCount = db.CountActivities(1).First();
                if (activityCount != null) activityCount = activityCount.Value;
                Assert.AreEqual(7, activityCount);
            }
        }
    }
}

When complete, build the Solution. Then finally, from the Test menu in the top Visual Studio menu bar, or by right clicking on the ‘HealthTrackerUnitTests’, run all Unit Tests. The test results should look like the following.

Test Explorer Showing Results of Unit Tests

Test Explorer Showing Results of Unit Tests

Conclusion

Congratulations, we have built and tested a Data Access Layer using Entity Framework 5. The DAL can now be referenced from a middle-tier business assemble, WCF Service, or directly from a client application.

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First Impressions of Code First Development with Entity Framework 5 in Visual Studio 2012

Build a Data Access Layer (DAL) in Visual Studio 2012 using the recently-released Entity Framework 5 with Code First Development. Leverage Entity Framework 5’s eagerly anticipated enum support, as well as Code First Migrations and Lazy Loading functionality. An updated version of this project’s source code, using EF6 is now available on GitHub. The GitHub repository contains all three Entity Framework blog posts.

Introduction

In August of this year (2012), along with the release of Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft announced the release of Entity Framework 5 (EF5). According to Microsoft, “Entity Framework (EF) 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.

EF5 offers multiple options for development, including Model First, Database First, and Code First. Code First, first introduced in EF4.1, allows you to define your model using C# or VB.Net POCO classes. Additional configuration can optionally be performed using attributes on your classes and properties or by using a fluent API. Code First will then create a database if it doesn’t exist, or Code First will use an existing empty database, adding new tables, according to Microsoft.

Exploring Code First

I started by looking at EF5’s Code First development to create a new database. I chose to create a Data Access Layer (DAL) for a health tracker application. This was loosely based on a mobile application I developed some time ago. You can track food intake, physical activities, and how much water you drink per day.

To further explore EF5’s new enum support feature, I substituted two of the database tables, containing static ‘system’ data, for enumeration classes. Added in EF5, Enumeration (enum) support, was the number one user-requested EF feature. Also added to EF5 were spatial data types and my personal favorite, table-valued functions (TVF).

Once the new database was created, I tested another newer EF feature, Code First Migrations. Code First Migrations, introduced in EF4.3, is a feature that allows a database created by Code First to be incrementally changed as your Code First model evolves.

Creating the HealthTracker DAL

Final View of Both Projects in Solution

Final View of Both Projects in Solution

Here are the steps I followed to create my EF5 Entity Framework DAL project:

1. Create a new C# Class Library, ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess’, in a Solution, ‘HealthTracker’. Target the .NET Framework 4.5.

New Class Library

New Class Library

2. Create (4) POCO (Plain Old CLR Object) classes: Person, Activity, Meal, and Hydration, shown below. Note the virtual properties. According to Microsoft, this enables the Lazy Loading feature of Entity Framework. Lazy Loading means that the contents of these properties will be automatically loaded from the database when you try to access them.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Person
    {
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public string Name { get; set; }
        public virtual List<Meal> Meals { get; set; }
        public virtual List<Activity> Activities { get; set; }
        public virtual List<Hydration> Hydrations { get; set; }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Activity
    {
        public int ActivityId { get; set; }
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }
        public ActivityType Type { get; set; }
        public string Notes { get; set; }
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public virtual Person Person { get; set; }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Hydration
    {
        public int HydrationId { get; set; }
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }
        public int Count { get; set; }
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public virtual Person Person { get; set; }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Meal
    {
        public int MealId { get; set; }
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }
        public MealType Type { get; set; }
        public string Description { get; set; }
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public virtual Person Person { get; set; }
    }
}

3. Add data annotations to the POCO classes. Annotations are used to specify validation for fields in the data model. Data annotations can include required, min, max, string length, and so forth. Annotations are part of the System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations namespace. As an alternative to annotations, you can use the Code First Fluent API.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Person
    {
        public int PersonId { get; set; }

        [Required]
        [StringLength(100,
        ErrorMessage = "Name must be less than 100 characters."),
        MinLength(2,
        ErrorMessage = "Name must be less than 2 characters.")]
        public string Name { get; set; }

        public virtual List<Meal> Meals { get; set; }
        public virtual List<Activity> Activities { get; set; }
        public virtual List<Hydration> Hydrations { get; set; }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Activity
    {
        public int ActivityId { get; set; }

        [Required]
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }

        [Required]
        [EnumDataType(typeof(ActivityType))]
        public ActivityType Type { get; set; }

        [StringLength(100,
        ErrorMessage = "Note must be less than 100 characters.")]
        public string Notes { get; set; }

        [Required]
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public virtual Person Person { get; set; }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Hydration
    {
        public int HydrationId { get; set; }

        [Required]
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }

        [Required]
        [Range(0, 20,
        ErrorMessage = "Hydration amount must be between 0 - 20.")]
        public int Count { get; set; }

        [Required]
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public virtual Person Person { get; set; }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public class Meal
    {
        public int MealId { get; set; }

        [Required]
        public DateTime Date { get; set; }

        [Required]
        [EnumDataType(typeof(MealType))]
        public MealType Type { get; set; }

        [StringLength(100,
        ErrorMessage = "Description must be less than 100 characters.")]
        public string Description { get; set; }

        [Required]
        public int PersonId { get; set; }
        public virtual Person Person { get; set; }
    }
}

4. Create (2) enum classes: MealType and ActivityType, shown below.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public enum ActivityType
    {
        Treadmill,
        Jogging,
        WeightTraining,
        Biking,
        Aerobics,
        Other
    }
}
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes
{
    public enum MealType
    {
        Breakfast,
        MidMorning,
        Lunch,
        MidAfternoon,
        Dinner,
        Snack,
        Brunch,
        Other
    }
}

5. Add Entity Framework (System.Data.Entity namespace classes) to the Solution by right-clicking on the Solution and selecting ‘Manage NuGet Packages for Solution…’ Install the ‘EntityFramework’ package. If you haven’t discovered the power of NuGet with Visual Studio, check out their site.

Manage NuGet Packages - Add Entity Framework

Manage NuGet Packages – Add Entity Framework

6. Add a DbContext class, ‘HealthTrackerContext’, shown below. According to Microsoft, “DbContext represents a combination of the Unit-Of-Work and Repository patterns and enables you to query a database and group together changes that will then be written back to the store as a unit.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Data.Entity;
using HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes;

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess
{
    public class HealthTrackerContext : DbContext
    {
        public DbSet<Activity> Activities { get; set; }
        public DbSet<Hydration> Hydrations { get; set; }
        public DbSet<Meal> Meals { get; set; }
        public DbSet<Person> Persons { get; set; }
    }
}

7. Add ‘Code First Migrations’ by running the Enable-Migrations command in the NuGet Package Manager Console. This allowed me to make changes to POCO classes, while keeping the database schema in sync. This only needs to be run once.

Enable-Migrations -ProjectName HealthTracker.DataAccess -Force -EnableAutomaticMigrations -Verbose
Package Manager Console - Code First Migrations

Package Manager Console – Code First Migrations

This creates the following class in a new Migrations folder, called Configuration.cs

namespace HealthTracker.DataAccess.Migrations
{
    using System;
    using System.Data.Entity;
    using System.Data.Entity.Migrations;
    using System.Linq;

    internal sealed class Configuration : DbMigrationsConfiguration<HealthTracker.DataAccess.HealthTrackerContext>
    {
        public Configuration()
        {
            AutomaticMigrationsEnabled = true;
        }

        protected override void Seed(HealthTracker.DataAccess.HealthTrackerContext context)
        {
            //  This method will be called after migrating to the latest version.

            //  You can use the DbSet<T>.AddOrUpdate() helper extension method
            //  to avoid creating duplicate seed data. E.g.
            //
            //    context.People.AddOrUpdate(
            //      p => p.FullName,
            //      new Person { FullName = "Andrew Peters" },
            //      new Person { FullName = "Brice Lambson" },
            //      new Person { FullName = "Rowan Miller" }
            //    );
            //
        }
    }
}

Running the Update-Database command in Package Manager Console updates the database when you have made changes.

Update-Database -ProjectName HealthTracker.DataAccess -Verbose -Force

I found the Code First Migrations feature a bit confusing at first. It took several tries to work out the correct command to use to add Code First Migrations to my data access project, and the command to call later, to update the database based on my project.

Dependency Graph

Here is the way the class relationships should look using Visual Studio 2012’s powerful new Dependency Graph feature:

Visual Studio 2012 Dependency Graph of HealthTracker

Visual Studio 2012 Dependency Graph of HealthTracker

Testing the Project

To test the entities, I created a simple console application, which references the above EF5 class library. The application takes a person’s name as input. It then adds and/or updates Activities, Meals, and Hydrations, for that Person, depending on whether or not that Person already exists in the database.

1. Create a new C# Console Application, ‘HealthTracker.Console’.

New Console Application

New Console Application

2. Add a reference to the ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess’ project.

Add Reference to HealthTracker.DataAccess Project

Add Reference to HealthTracker.DataAccess Project

3. Create the Examples class and add the code below to the Main method class. As seen in the Examples class, using Micorsoft’s LINQ to Entities with the new .NET Framework 4.5, makes querying the entities very easy.

using System;

namespace HealthTracker.ConsoleApp
{
    class Program
    {
        private static string _newName = String.Empty;

        static void Main()
        {
            GetNameInput();
            var personId = Examples.FindPerson(_newName);

            if (personId == 0)
            {
                Examples.CreatePerson(_newName);
                personId = Examples.FindPerson(_newName);
            }

            Examples.CreateActivity(personId);
            Examples.CreateMeals(personId);
            Examples.UpdateOrAddHydration(personId);

            Console.WriteLine("Click any key to quit.");
            Console.ReadKey();
        }

        private static void GetNameInput()
        {
            Console.Write("Input Person's Name: ");
            var readLine = Console.ReadLine();
            if (readLine != null) _newName = readLine.Trim();
            if (_newName.Length > 2) return;
            Console.WriteLine("Name to short. Exiting program.");
            GetNameInput();
        }
    }
}
using System;
using System.Globalization;
using System.Linq;
using HealthTracker.DataAccess;
using HealthTracker.DataAccess.Classes;

namespace HealthTracker.ConsoleApp
{
    public class Examples
    {
        private static readonly DateTime Today = DateTime.Now.Date;

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of finding a Person in database.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="name">Name of the Person</param>
        /// <returns>Person's unique PersonId</returns>
        public static int FindPerson(string name)
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerContext())
            {
                var personId = db.Persons.Where(person => person.Name == name)
                    .Select(person => person.PersonId).FirstOrDefault();

                if (personId == 0)
                    Console.WriteLine("Person, {0}, could not be found...", name);
                else
                    Console.WriteLine("PersonId {0} retrieved...", personId);

                return personId;
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of Adding a new Person
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="name">Name of the Person</param>
        public static void CreatePerson(string name)
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerContext())
            {
                // Add a new Person
                db.Persons.Add(new Person { Name = name });
                db.SaveChanges();
                Console.WriteLine("New Person, {0}, added...", name);
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of updating existing Hydration count.
        /// Else adding new Hydration if it doesn't exist.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">Person's unique PersonId</param>
        public static void UpdateOrAddHydration(int personId)
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerContext())
            {
                var existingHydration = db.Hydrations.FirstOrDefault(
                    hydration => hydration.PersonId == personId
                        && hydration.Date == Today);

                if (existingHydration != null && existingHydration.HydrationId > 0)
                {
                    existingHydration.Count++;
                    db.SaveChanges();
                    Console.WriteLine("Existing Hydration count increased to {0}...",
                        existingHydration.Count.ToString(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture));
                    return;
                }

                db.Hydrations.Add(new Hydration
                {
                    PersonId = personId,
                    Date = Today,
                    Count = 1
                });
                db.SaveChanges();
                Console.WriteLine("New Hydration added...");
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of adding two Meals.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">Person's unique PersonId</param>
        public static void CreateMeals(int personId)
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerContext())
            {
                db.Meals.Add(new Meal
                {
                    PersonId = personId,
                    Date = Today,
                    Type = MealType.Breakfast,
                    Description = "(2) slices toast, (1) glass orange juice"
                });

                db.Meals.Add(new Meal
                {
                    PersonId = personId,
                    Date = Today,
                    Type = MealType.Lunch,
                    Description = "(1) protein shake, (1) apple"
                });

                db.SaveChanges();
                Console.WriteLine("Two new Meals added...");
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Example of adding an Activity
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="personId">Person's unique PersonId</param>
        public static void CreateActivity(int personId)
        {
            using (var db = new HealthTrackerContext())
            {
                db.Activities.Add(new Activity
                {
                    PersonId = personId,
                    Date = Today,
                    Type = ActivityType.Treadmill,
                    Notes = "30 minutes, 500 calories"
                });

                db.SaveChanges();
                Console.WriteLine("New Activity added...");
            }
        }
    }
}

The console output below demonstrates the addition a new Person, Susan Jones, with an associated Activity, two Meals, and a Hydration.

Console Output - Adding New Person

Console Output – Adding New Person

The console output below demonstrates inputting Susan Jones a second time. Observe what happened to the output.

Console Output - Updating Existing Person

Console Output – Updating Existing Person

Below is a view of the newly created SQL Express ‘HealthTracker.DataAccess.HealthTrackerContext’ database. Note the four database tables, which correspond to the four POCO classes in the project. Why did the database show up in SQL Express or LocalDB? Read the ‘Where’s My Data?‘ section of this tutorial by Microsoft. Code First uses SQL Express or LocalDB by default, but you add a connection to your project to target SQL Server.

View of HealthTracker SQL Express Database

View of HealthTracker SQL Express Database

You can switch your connection SQL Server at anytime, even after the SQL Express or LocalDB database has been created, and updated using Code First Migrations. That’s what I chose to do after completing this post’s example. I prefer doing my initial development with a temporary SQL Express or LocalDB database while the entities and database schema are still evolving. Once I have the model a fairly stable point, I create the SQL Server database, and continue from there evolving the schema.

Conclusion

Having worked with earlier editions of Entity Framework’s Database First and Model First development, in addition to other ORM packages, I was impressed with EF5’s new features as well as the Code First development methodology. Overall, I feel EF5 is another big step toward making Entity Framework a top-notch ORM, on par with other established products on the market.

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