Monday, August 27, 2007

ADO.NET Entity Framework August 2007 CTP for VS 2008 Beta 2 Runtime and Tools Available

The ADO.NET VNext team managed to deliver the August 2007 CTP with almost a week to spare. The ADO.NET Entity Framework Beta 2 page provides the ADO.NET Entity Framework (EF) Runtime, which is dependent on VS 2008 Beta 2 and is required for installing the EF Tools CTP below. Runtime changes listed are:

  • Events to customize code generation
  • Abstract types in EDM models
  • Complex types
  • <Using> support in metadata files
  • Entity key serialization
  • Increased persistence ignorance in entity data classes
  • Improved connection management in ObjectContext
  • Improved DataBinding usability
  • Metadata annotations
  • Better support for span over LINQ to Entities queries
  • Improvements to LINQ queries: additional canonical functions and automatic mapping from CLR functions to server functions
  • A new event for extensibility of SaveChanges
  • Usability and consistency improvements
  • Polymorphic results from stored procedures

Update 8/28/2007: Danny Simmons' early morning August CTP of the Entity Framework released post provides a brief summary of the each of the preceding changes.

You can install the runtime under Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista or Windows XP.

The ADO.Net Entity Framework Tools Aug 07 Community Technology Preview, a.k.a CTP1, which you must install after VS 2008 and ADO.NET EF Beta 2 runtime, lists the following updates:

Entity Designer (preview)

  • Generate a model from a database with the wizard and display it on the designer surface
  • Edit conceptual model properties (e.g. namespace, alias)
  • Layout and control visual aspects of the design surface and persist changes
  • Add, delete, and edit entities, scalar properties, associations, and inheritance
  • Automatic set management
  • Automatic navigation property management
  • Error reporting
  • Validate model and mappings using the Entity Framework Runtime
    Entity Mapping
  • View the mapping for a C-Side Entity or Association
  • Rename or delete C-Side objects without worrying about mapping
  • Map an EntityType to multiple tables
  • Apply multiple conditions to a table mapping
  • Map associations
  • Automatic generation of conditions and referential constraints on associations
  • Map an Entity hierarchy to a single table (TPH mapping)
  • Map an Entity hierarchy to multiple tables (TPT mapping)
    Entity Model Browser
  • Understand and visualize the model in a tree hierarchy
    Visual Studio Integration
  • Item template, model generation wizard, EdmxDeploy.exe, and Entity Framework validation on build
  • Update 8/28/2007: Julie Lerman's First look at the Entity Framework Designer post is a lavishly-illustrated tour of of the EDM designer, starting with adding the ADO.NET Entity Data Model template for the Northwind sample database to a WinForm.

    You can install the tools to VS 2008 Beta 2 Standard, Professional, Team Edition, and Express editions (C#, VB and Visual Web Developer) editions. 

    Following are some important issues from the Readme.html file:

    • 2.3.4 Cannot map entities to stored procedures
    • 2.3.6 Property window is missing many properties
    • 2.3.7 Wizard does not enable MARS when connecting to SQL Server 2005
    • 2.3.12 Editing .edmx file in the XML Editor is not supported
    • 2.3.14 F1 help does not work for Tools
    • 2.3.16 Unable to enter spaces in condition values
    • 2.3.19 In some cases, referential constraints are not created correctly

    Note: If your project isn't an ASP.NET website, ASP.NET web application, Console, WinForms, or Library, you must put the model in a separate class library project.

    Elisa Flasko's Entity Framework Beta 2 & the 1st Entity Framework Tools CTP Released! ADO.NET Team says that Docs and Samples for the Entity Framework Beta 2 can be found on MSDN and  CodePlex, respectively, but they weren't there as of 8/27/2007 18:00 PDT.

    Update 8/31/2007: You can read the online documentation for the Beta 2 and CTP1 bits here. The problem reported in the ADO.NET Entity Framework August 2007 CTP for VS 2008 Beta 2 Runtime and Tools Available post was a bad URL. Tommy from the Data Tools team confirmed in a comment that there were early problems opening the docs.

    Update 8/28/2007: The samples were available but docs were still missing at 06:00 PDT. Comments in the forum say the problem is intermittent and should be solved today, but my repeated attempts to open the docs failed.

    Mike Taulty has been working with an earlier internal drop and has just posted many helpful analyses of the new features:

    Note: The preceding list, which is in reverse chronological order, was current as of 8/27/2007 17:30 PDT.

    The new EDM Designer preview is finally here! Enjoy!

    Update 8/30/2007: Mike Taulty published a single-page of links to his posts: ADO.NET Entity Framework - Bringing Together A Few Previous Posts.

    Initial Reactions (8/28/2007)

    I haven't had a chance to spend much time with the new bits, but it's interesting to note that the three XML schema and mapping files (SSDL, MSL and CSDL) have coalesced into one EDMX file for the designer that splits into SSDL, MSL and CSDL files when you build the project.

    Support for SQL Server Compact Edition (SSCE) appears to be missing.


    Tommy Williams said...

    About the docs: be sure you're trying to load rather than the page that you're redirected to if the MSDN servers think the content isn't there (you're linking to that error page in your post). I was seeing the problem from a couple of different networks last night but I couldn't reproduce it this morning.