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Entity Framework Gets More Code Only Extensions

There's good news for those interested in the Code Only extensions Microsoft started adding to the ADO.NET Entity Framework earlier this year. The company this week broadened its support for Code Only POCO (Plain Old CRL Object) entities in the Entity Framework.

In a status-update posted on Microsoft's Entity Framework Design blog, Microsoft outlined some new features coming to the next test build of the Entity Framework, which further its support for Code Only development.

"Code Only is now looking much more complete,"noted Microsoft Entity Framework program manager Alex James in the blog posting announcing the Code Only updates. "It isn’t completely finished yet, we are still working on the rough edges."

The Code Only support in the first CTP was, by Microsoft's own account, limited. The latest enhancements to Code Only support were well-received.  "Code Only is their way of allowing Entity Framework to be a technology for people who do not want to do modeling, which is more typical domain-driven developers," said independent .NET consultant Julie Lerman, who is writing an update to her book Programming Entity Framework (O'Reilly and Partners) covering the EF 4.

Lerman told me that while the potential audience of those preferring the Code Only features might be smaller than those using the model-driven approach, Microsoft's decision to further embrace POCO promises to broaden the reach of the Entity Framework. "Because the Entity Framework now supports those ways of programming, I think more developers like me, who are data centric, are going to start adopting these types of practices," she said.

When testers get to see the next test release, they will see the Entity Framework will support Foreign Keys (FKs), which provide more simplified mapping of data sets, James wrote back in March. "FK Associations need no mapping, simply mapping the Entity(Set) is sufficient," he noted at the time. "This will simplify life for a lot of people who need the foreign keys available to them," Lerman said.

According to James, among the other Code Only enhancements coming are the ability to add fake navigation to address missing navigation properties, support for complex type configurations, associated mapping and the ability to extract EDMX produced by Code Only either from an XMLWriter or as an XDocument.

As indicated by Microsoft earlier, Code Only will not be in .NET 4.0, except possibly DLL features, James noted. "The rest of Code Only will continue to evolve, and we will ship another preview or two, before getting it rolled into .NET as soon as we can after 4.0 ships."

What's your take on the Entity Framework? Please comment below or drop me a line at [email protected] .

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/13/2009

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