Designing with the Entity Framwork

A number of factors have contributed toward the evolution of the Entity Framework (a technology used to map database entities to objects used within .NET application programs). However, one of the major factors is the way in which developers work. Not all developers work in the same way and not every situation requires the same solution. With this in mind, Microsoft ADO.NET Entity Framework Step by Step helps you understand how the evolution of the Entity Framework has been affected by these factors. It points out how the alternatives provided by the Entity Framework make your job easier by increasing the flexibility of the development environment.

One of the more important evolutionary steps is the inclusion of three modeling techniques within the Entity Framework: Model First (where you create a database based on a model you define), Database First (where you generate a model based on an existing database), and Code First (where you generate a database based on the objects in an existing application without using a designer-based model). You can read about these three models and how they affect your application development in my recent article, “Choosing the Right Entity Framework Workflow.” The purpose of this article is to help you make the best choice in modeling technique for your next Entity Framework project. The article also points out the need to combine techniques at times to obtain a desired result and helps you understand some of the pros/cons of each approach. Of course, there is no wrong or right approach—simply the approach that works best for you.

The Entity Framework is a necessary technology when dealing with the complexities of a large scale development. Modeling tools make it possible to understand complex interactions with greater ease and to explain those interactions to others who might not have development experience. In addition, you use modeling tools to document how objects in an application relate to the tables and other features of a database. Knowledge like this is incredibly important when working in a team environment where team members must communicate well with each other or the project is doomed to failure. Most importantly for the developer, using a modeling technology like the Entity Framework greatly reduces the confusion that can occur when developer moves outside the comfort of a familiar development environment.

Of course, there is a lot more to be said about the Entity Framework and this article (and even my book) are really just a starting point. I always like to get the reader perspective about materials that I write. What are your experiences in using the Entity Framework? Let me know at