Advantages of Entity Framework

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Entity Framework is an open-source framework for .NET applications. Microsoft introduced Entity Framework first time in the .NET framework 3. It acts like a bridge between an application and the connected data sources. It provides a huge variety of libraries to read and write data and enables the developers to focus on the business domain objects instead of focusing on building up the architecture of a database. It is built on the top of ADO.NET architecture, generates the code automatically in the application.

Entity Framework Architecture

In Entity Framework, you can develop an application with a slight understanding of database, because the framework itself will do most of the database operations and commands, which makes it easy to implement CRUD operations. It reduces the time in development of an application and you can easily focus on the production instead of the underlying technicalities of a database.

It is derived from Object-Relational Mapping programming technique, outlines the entities and its relationship with each other. Entities are like the structure of a table in the database and it describes the schema of an object not the behavior.

Entity Framework has three architectural layers:

  • Object Service Layer represents the model entities in an application
  • Entity Client Layer acts as a core layer that connects Data-Source layer to the Object Service layer.
  • Data Provider Layer is directly connected with the database and is responsible to parse the query into a native SQL code and execute the command

Entity Data Models

Entity Framework has three different entity data models:

Conceptual Model

In this model, you can describe the model classes. It is divided into two main parts: first part is all the entities and relationships that a project needs and the second consists of the detailed information of the underlying structure.

Storage Model

Storage Models describes the organization of the database. It comprises of the tables, views, relationship keys and stored procedures.

Mapping Model

In this model, Entity Framework maps the classes to one or more than tables or maps table to one or more than one classes.

Let us take an example of Entity Framework code that save a single customer object record into the database.

namespace MyApplication
{
    public class CustomerRepository
    {
        public static void Main(string[] args)
        { 
           // Initializes the dbContext class of Customer Entity
            using (var customerContextDB = new CustomerContext())
            {
                // Create a new customer object
                var customer = new Customer() { CustomerID = "CC-01" ,
                                                CustomerName = "CC-Name", 
                                                CustomerContact = "CC-XXXXXXXX"  };
               // Call the Add Command 
                customerContextDB.User.Add(customer);

               // Execute the save command to make the changes in database
                customerContextDB.SaveChanges();     
            }
        }
    }
}

Productivity

Entity framework enables the developer to focus on the domain objects and its core working rather than the architecture of database. It generates models and context classes automatically, which are responsible for the interaction with external data sources and thus minimize the efforts for writing database context classes and managing a database connection.

Performance

The first request is slow because of the complex ORM structure, but after that, the fetching of record is faster. It first translate the query into SQL code and then process the query result.

Maintainability

Entity Framework has less code to fetch the records from database, which makes the code easier to maintain. This is helpful in large-scale applications as it provides a clear structure of the mapped relational objects and the dependent layers.

Readability

Entity Framework has the additional advantage of LINQ queries. LINQ is used to write SQL queries in Entity Framework. You can write complex queries with all the available functions. It helps in simplifying the queries and speed up the performance of an application.

Final Thoughts

Briefly, Entity Framework is a powerful open-source ORM framework to support .NET applications. It generates the code automatically to manage the interaction with database and connections. It has three different approaches, i.e., Database First, Code First and Model First. If your requirement is to start the project with minimum effort, then Entity Framework is the right choice for rapid application. It eliminates the need of writing unnecessary code for reading and writing data from data source. It is built on top of ADO.NET architecture, which makes it little slower than ADO.NET framework. There are multiple ways to speed up the bottleneck areas by adapting a cache mechanism depending on the nature of an application. You can also have a hybrid approach in your large-scale application if there is a need for direct querying of database records.

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