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Build MVC Applications with Connectivity to CSV Data

This article shows how to use only the Entity Framework and the CData ADO.NET provider to access CSV from an ASP.NET MVC application.

This article shows how to use wizards in Visual Studio to drop the CData ADO.NET Provider for CSV into a simple MVC (model, view, controller) project.

Create the Entity Framework Model

Follow the steps below to save connection properties and map tables to entities in the data model.

  1. Create a new MVC project in Visual Studio. In this example, the project name is MvcCSVApp.
  2. If you are using Entity Framework 6, you will need to take the preliminary step of registering the CSV Entity Framework provider for your project. See the "LINQ and Entity Framework" chapter in the help documentation for a guide.

    Note that MVC 3 scaffolding and MVC 4 scaffolding do not support Entity Framework 6. You can use your scaffolding with Entity Framework 6 by upgrading to the latest version of MVC.

  3. To add the .edmx file from the designer, right-click your Models folder and click Add New Item. Select ADO.NET Entity Data Model, name the model, and click Add. In this example, the name of the model is CSVModel.
  4. In the Entity Data Model wizard, select the option 'EF Designer from database'. The Entity Data Model wizard is displayed.
  5. Click New Connection. Select CData CSV Data Source in the dialog that is displayed.
  6. Specify the required connection string properties.

    The DataSource property must be set to a valid local folder name.

    Also, specify the IncludeFiles property to work with text files having extensions that differ from .csv, .tab, or .txt. Specify multiple file extensions in a comma-separated list. You can also set Extended Properties compatible with the Microsoft Jet OLE DB 4.0 driver. Alternatively, you can provide the format of text files in a Schema.ini file.

    Set UseRowNumbers to true if you are deleting or updating in CSV. This will create a new column with the name RowNumber which will be used as key for that table.

    A typical connection string is below:

    DataSource=MyCSVFilesFolder;
  7. Name the connection and select whether to include sensitive information, such as connection credentials, in the connection string. For simplicity, this example saves sensitive information in Web.config. The connection settings are saved as CSVEntities.

  8. Select the views you need. In this example, Customer is imported. Also, the option to pluralize object names is deselected in this example. Click Finish to create the .edmx file.
  9. Build your project to complete this step.

Scaffold the Controller and Views

After creating the model and building the project, you can use ASP.NET Scaffolding wizards to create the controller and the views.

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the controllers folder and click Add -> Controller. Select MVC 5 Controller with views, using Entity Framework.
  2. In the Add Controller dialog that is then displayed, select the following options:

    • Model class: Select a table you imported; for example, Customer.
    • Data context class: Select your context class.
  3. Leave the default values for the other fields.

You can now access the list of Customer records at http://MySite/Customer. With every state change the site picks up any data changes.