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WCF Data Services Catches Up to Entity Framework 6

Microsoft last week updated its latest WCF Data Services version so it will work with Entity Framework 6.

Rather than requiring the download of a new WCF DS version, the update to version 5.6.0 comes in the form of an out-of-band alpha1 NuGet package called, appropriately, WCF Data Services Entity Framework Provider.

WCF DS 5.6.0 was released in August with support for Visual Studio 2013, portable libraries and other enhancements. The VS 2013 support lets developers consume OData services with the Add Service Reference functionality. The portable libraries support lets developers use the new streamlined JSON format (part of the OData v3 protocol, sometimes called "JSON light") in Windows Store and Windows Phone 8 apps. While core libraries have support for .NET Framework 4.0, the WCF DS client portable library support targets .NET 4.5. Both the core libraries and the WCF Client have support for Windows Phone 8, Windows Store and Silverlight 5 apps.

Users, however, wanted more. A couple of readers responded in the comments asking about OData v4 support, and one asked, "Does this release include EF 6 support." Microsoft's Mark Stafford last week replied, "Sort of. The EF 6 support will come in a different NuGet package, which will go into alpha today."

The Oct. 2 NuGet update that catches up to EF 6 was made possible by some work the WCF DS team was doing to make providers public. The team wanted to override provider behavior so developers could use features such as spatial properties and enums, which lack native support in the OData v3 protocol. "Unfortunately we ran into some non-trivial bugs with $select and $orderby and needed to cut the feature for this release," the team said in its August announcement.

However, that work paid off later, the team said in last week's update announcement. "We were able to build this provider as an out-of-band provider (that is, a provider that ships apart from the core WCF DS stack) because of the public provider work we did recently" the team said.

The new support for EF 6 basically results from a new class, EntityFrameworkDataService<T>, where T is type DbContext. For previous EF versions, developers should use the base class DataService<T>, where T is type DbContext or the older ObjectContext.

"The new public provider functionality comes with a little bit of code you need to write," the team said. "Since that code should be the same for every default EF 6 WCF DS provider, we went ahead and included a class [the new EntityFrameworkDataService class] that does this for you."

The team admitted that it didn't have time to do full testing on the new provider because the developers were "heads down" preparing for OData v4 support. "So ... we're going to rely on you, our dear customer, to provide feedback of whether or not this provider works in your situation. If we don't hear anything back, we'll go ahead and release the provider in a week or so." Which should be right around now.

Have you tried it yet? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 10/10/2013 at 6:41 AM


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