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Access Azure Table Data with Entity Framework 6

This article shows how to access Azure Table 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 Azure Table 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 Azure Table Entity Framework 6 assembly and the connection string.

    Specify your AccessKey and your Account to connect. Set the Account property to the Storage Account Name and set AccessKey to one of the Access Keys. Either the Primary or Secondary Access Keys can be used. To obtain these values, navigate to the Storage Accounts blade in the Azure portal. You can obtain the access key by selecting your account and clicking Access Keys in the Settings section.

    <configuration> ... <connectionStrings> <add name="AzureTablesContext" connectionString="Offline=False;AccessKey=myAccessKey;Account=myAccountName;" providerName="System.Data.CData.AzureTables" /> </connectionStrings> <entityFramework> <providers> ... <provider invariantName="System.Data.CData.AzureTables" type="System.Data.CData.AzureTables.AzureTablesProviderServices, System.Data.CData.AzureTables.Entities.EF6" /> </providers> <entityFramework> </configuration> </code>
  4. Add a reference to System.Data.CData.AzureTables.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 AzureTablesContext. 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 AzureTablesContext : DbContext { public AzureTablesContext() { } protected override void OnModelCreating(DbModelBuilder modelBuilder) { // To remove the requests to the Migration History table Database.SetInitializer<AzureTablesContext>(null); // To remove the plural names modelBuilder.Conventions.Remove<PluralizingTableNameConvention>(); } }
  7. Create another .cs file and name it after the Azure Table entity you are retrieving, for example, NorthwindProducts. 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("NorthwindProducts")] public class NorthwindProducts { [System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.Key] public System.String Name { get; set; } public System.String Price { get; set; } }
  8. Now that you have created an entity, add the entity to your context class: public DbSet<NorthwindProducts> NorthwindProducts { set; get; }
  9. With the context and entity finished, you are now ready to query the data in a separate class. For example: AzureTablesContext context = new AzureTablesContext(); context.Configuration.UseDatabaseNullSemantics = true; var query = from line in context.NorthwindProducts select line;