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Let’s Build a Module #4–Data!

In this next part of the series, we’ll take a look at how the combination of Entity Framework and WCF Data Services gives you an awesome data access layer in no time flat, Quick, Easy and Powerful.

NOTICE: This is a work in progress. The template is not complete, during the course of this series we will be enhancing and tweaking the template as we build a new DotNetNuke module using these advanced technologies. The template is being released as-is so that you can download it and follow along, or participate by helping with the development. You can certainly use the template in it’s current state to build a DotNetNuke module, however, you will have to do some things manually for now until the template is complete. If you have any question at all, do not hesitate to contact me directly

Mea Culpa

First, let me apologize for the delay between parts 3 and 4. Every day I woke up with the intention of working on this post, but work and personal issues continued to distract me. I hope that going forward I will be able to release new posts in a more timely manner.

Also, I included the upcoming posts, so you can see where we are in the series and what’s coming up. At this point, it looks like I should be able to cover all aspects of the Project template in 9 posts.

I’ve also decided to do a ‘simple’ module as part of this series. There were a lot of good ideas for more complicated ( and useful ) modules, but for the purpose of first learning how the components of the template work together, this blog series will use a fairly simple To Do List module.

Once the blog series is over, I will pick one of the suggested module ideas and we WILL build a complex module for the community, hosted on CodePlex and the DotNetNuke Forge using the Project template we’re building.

So, back to the post at hand…

The “Let’s Build a Module” series

1. Project Introduction
2. Downloading, Installing and Using the Template
3. Output Formatting
4. Data Access with Entity Framework and a WCF Data Service
5. Client side Data Binding with Knockout.js
6. Mobile Development
7. Security
8. Testing
9. Packaging and Distribution

4. Data Access

So far, we’ve simply created a new Project, selected the “Gooddogs DotNetNuke Module Technology Template”.  Part 2 includes a video showing the creation of a module using this template.

So, most modules will have to save, read, edit and possibly delete data from one or more tables as part of their functionality.  The traditional way for this to be accomplished in DotNetNuke is by using the core ‘data provider’ method, however, that is a fair amount of tedious and complex work to do something as simple as reading and writing data to a database.

The video below will demonstrate how you can use Entity Framework as the data layer for your module, and then use the template’s built-in WCF Data Service to expose your data.

Use Entity Framework and WCF Data Service to build your data access layer

Caveats: The traditional data provider model in DotNetNuke provides 2 key benefits, portability and support for database owner and object qualifyer.  Most key database vendors now provide the ability to use Entity Framework with their products

Oracle Data Provider for .NET and Entity Framework 
MySql and the Entity Framework

If the issue of being able to specify a database owner and table and stored procedure prefix through the designation of an object qualifier is important to you, then take a look at Brandon Hayes’ solution.

DotNetNuke Entity Framework Model Adapter

I would be interested to hear how many of you use object qualifiers. I know you probably have them in your module database scripts, but how many of you actually specify an object qualifier in your web.config files?

Till next time, when we will take a look at how we move the data from our WCF Data Service to the page using client-side databinding and MVVM style development with Knockout.js


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