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Access Act CRM Data with Entity Framework 6

This article shows how to access Act CRM data using an Entity Framework code-first approach. Entity Framework 6 is available in .NET 4.5 and above.

Entity Framework is an object-relational mapping framework that can be used to work with data as objects. While you can run the ADO.NET Entity Data Model wizard in Visual Studio to handle generating the Entity Model, this approach, the model-first approach, can put you at a disadvantage if there are changes in your data source or if you want more control over how the entities operate. In this article you will complete the code-first approach to accessing Act CRM data using the CData ADO.NET Provider.

  1. Open Visual Studio and create a new Windows Form Application. This article uses a C# project with .NET 4.5.
  2. Run the command 'Install-Package EntityFramework' in the Package Manger Console in Visual Studio to install the latest release of Entity Framework.
  3. Modify the App.config file in the project to add a reference to the Act CRM Entity Framework 6 assembly and the connection string.

    The User and Password properties, under the Authentication section, must be set to valid Act! user credentials. In addition to the authentication values, see the following:

    • Connecting to Act! Premium

      In addition to the authentication values, the URL to Act! is also required; for example https://eup1-iis-04.eu.hosted.act.com/.

      Additionally, you must specify the ActDatabase you will connect to. This is found by going to the About Act! Premium menu of your account, at the top right of the page, in the ? menu. Use the Database Name in the window that appears.

    • Connecting to Act! Premium Cloud

      To connect to your Act! Premium Cloud account, you also need to specify the ActCloudName property. This property is found in the URL address of the Cloud account; for example https://eup1-iis-04.eu.hosted.act.com/ActCloudName/.

    Note that retrieving ActCRM metadata can be expensive. It is advised that you set the CacheMetadata property to store the metadata locally.

    <configuration> ... <connectionStrings> <add name="ActCRMContext" connectionString="Offline=False;URL=https://myActCRMserver.com;User=myUser;Password=myPassword;ActDatabase=MyDB;" providerName="System.Data.CData.ActCRM" /> </connectionStrings> <entityFramework> <providers> ... <provider invariantName="System.Data.CData.ActCRM" type="System.Data.CData.ActCRM.ActCRMProviderServices, System.Data.CData.ActCRM.Entities.EF6" /> </providers> <entityFramework> </configuration> </code>
  4. Add a reference to System.Data.CData.ActCRM.Entities.EF6.dll, located in the lib -> 4.0 subfolder in the installation directory.
  5. Build the project at this point to ensure everything is working correctly. Once that's done, you can start coding using Entity Framework.
  6. Add a new .cs file to the project and add a class to it. This will be your database context, and it will extend the DbContext class. In the example, this class is named ActCRMContext. The following code example overrides the OnModelCreating method to make the following changes:
    • Remove PluralizingTableNameConvention from the ModelBuilder Conventions.
    • Remove requests to the MigrationHistory table.
    using System.Data.Entity; using System.Data.Entity.Infrastructure; using System.Data.Entity.ModelConfiguration.Conventions; class ActCRMContext : DbContext { public ActCRMContext() { } protected override void OnModelCreating(DbModelBuilder modelBuilder) { // To remove the requests to the Migration History table Database.SetInitializer<ActCRMContext>(null); // To remove the plural names modelBuilder.Conventions.Remove<PluralizingTableNameConvention>(); } }
  7. Create another .cs file and name it after the Act CRM entity you are retrieving, for example, Activities. In this file, define both the Entity and the Entity Configuration, which will resemble the example below: using System.Data.Entity.ModelConfiguration; using System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.Schema; [System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.Schema.Table("Activities")] public class Activities { [System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.Key] public System.String ActivityDisplayName { get; set; } public System.String Subject { get; set; } }
  8. Now that you have created an entity, add the entity to your context class: public DbSet<Activities> Activities { set; get; }
  9. With the context and entity finished, you are now ready to query the data in a separate class. For example: ActCRMContext context = new ActCRMContext(); context.Configuration.UseDatabaseNullSemantics = true; var query = from line in context.Activities select line;