Access Excel Data with Entity Framework 6

Ready to get started?

Download for a free trial:

Download Now

Learn more:

Excel ADO.NET Provider

Easily connect .NET applications with real-time data from Excel spreadsheets. Use Excel to manage the data that powers your applications.



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

    The ExcelFile, under the Authentication section, must be set to a valid Excel File.

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