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Entity Framework Gets Code First Model Generation Through Reverse Engineering

Microsoft last week released a minor version update of its popular Object Relational Mapping (ORM) tool with numerous bug fixes and new features, including the ability to reverse engineer an existing database to create a Code First model.

Entity Framework (EF) 6.1 is the first ".x" update since Microsoft open sourced the tool moving to version 6 and moved it to CodePlex. It features tooling consolidation that "extends the ADO.NET Entity Data Model wizard to support creating Code First models, including reverse engineering from an existing database," Microsoft's Rowan Miller explained in an ADO.NET Blog post.

Miller said this new functionality was available in beta quality in the EF Power Tools package, used by the engineering team to preview features under consideration for inclusion in a main release.

Developers can now right-click on a C# project to get a context menu item to "Reverse Engineer Code First," according to Data Developer Center documentation for the EF Power Tools. This command generates a derived DbContext class, "plain-old CLR object" (POCO) classes and Code First mapping classes from an existing database.

Another context menu item is available to "Customize Reverse Engineer Templates," which lets developers customize code generation via reverse engineer T4 templates added to projects.

According to project meeting notes that Microsoft developers now put online, the Code First models that can now be created with the wizard will lack certain features, such as the ability to split tables and entities, and support for complex types and enums, among others.

Microsoft has posted a Code First to an Existing Database video and walk-through where you can learn more about this new feature.

EF6.1 also includes a new IndexAttribute functionality that lets developers specifically identify database table indexes with an [Index] attribute attached to properties in Code First models.

Other enhancements to Entity Framework in version 6.1 listed by Miller include a CommitFailureHandler, public mapping API, performance improvements and many others.

Microsoft engineers such as Diego Vega and Pawel Kadluczka have been busy this week helping developers who reported problems with the new version update in the comments section of Miller's blog.

For more support, Microsoft recommends developers post questions on the StackOverflow site, where six questions had been posted as of today.

For future releases, the EF team's roadmap indicates it's considering "EF Everywhere," described as "a lighter-weight version of EF that can be used across a wide variety of platforms (including Windows Store and Windows Phone)."

Posted by David Ramel on 03/25/2014


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