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Access Excel Online Data with Entity Framework 6

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

    You can connect to a workbook by providing authentication to Excel Online and then setting the following properties:

    • Workbook: Set this to the name or Id of the workbook.

      If you want to view a list of information about the available workbooks, execute a query to the Workbooks view after you authenticate.

    • UseSandbox: Set this to true if you are connecting to a workbook in a sandbox account. Otherwise, leave this blank to connect to a production account.

    You use the OAuth authentication standard to authenticate to Excel Online. See the Getting Started section in the help documentation for a guide. Getting Started also guides you through executing SQL to worksheets and ranges.

    <configuration> ... <connectionStrings> <add name="ExcelOnlineContext" connectionString="Offline=False;InitiateOAuth=GETANDREFRESH" providerName="System.Data.CData.ExcelOnline" /> </connectionStrings> <entityFramework> <providers> ... <provider invariantName="System.Data.CData.ExcelOnline" type="System.Data.CData.ExcelOnline.ExcelOnlineProviderServices, System.Data.CData.ExcelOnline.Entities.EF6" /> </providers> <entityFramework> </configuration> </code>
  4. Add a reference to System.Data.CData.ExcelOnline.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 ExcelOnlineContext. 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 ExcelOnlineContext : DbContext { public ExcelOnlineContext() { } protected override void OnModelCreating(DbModelBuilder modelBuilder) { // To remove the requests to the Migration History table Database.SetInitializer<ExcelOnlineContext>(null); // To remove the plural names modelBuilder.Conventions.Remove<PluralizingTableNameConvention>(); } }
  7. Create another .cs file and name it after the Excel Online entity you are retrieving, for example, Test_xlsx_Sheet1. 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("Test_xlsx_Sheet1")] public class Test_xlsx_Sheet1 { [System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.Key] public System.String Id { get; set; } public System.String Column1 { get; set; } }
  8. Now that you have created an entity, add the entity to your context class: public DbSet<Test_xlsx_Sheet1> Test_xlsx_Sheet1 { set; get; }
  9. With the context and entity finished, you are now ready to query the data in a separate class. For example: ExcelOnlineContext context = new ExcelOnlineContext(); context.Configuration.UseDatabaseNullSemantics = true; var query = from line in context.Test_xlsx_Sheet1 select line;