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What is ADO.NET?
ADO.NET is a software library in Microsoft’s .NET framework that helps provide both connected and disconnected access to database information for applications. It is broken into two parts; DataSet, which is used to organize and manipulate data, and .NET framework data providers, which control the dataflow between DataSet and Web-based applications.
For businesses whose sites rely on Windows-based applications developed using Microsoft’s .NET framework, an important part of the “behind the scenes” code on their hosted server is a component of the .NET framework known as ActiveX Data Object (ADO).NET. This software library assists developers by providing a connection framework and data manipulation capabilities that improve the performance of applications (such as galleries, database “middleware,” or interactive forms) that rely on databases to serve content.
ADO.NET is embedded in the .NET framework, and is itself broken out into two major components: DataSet, which is used to manipulate, store and transfer data, and .NET framework data providers, which are used to control the ways in which data moves between DataSet and the applications being served. Altogether, ADO.NET is composed of a set of classes that comes with the Microsoft .NET framework. ADO.NET facilitates data access from managed languages.
ADO.NET was launched long ago as part of the .NET framework and it provides a comprehensive and complete set of libraries for data access. Of the many benefits of ADO.NET is the enablement of access between applications and various types of data using the same methodology. What that means is that if you were to use ADO.NET to access data in a Microsoft SQL Server Database, then that same method applies to access on any other kind of database such as Microsoft Access or Oracle with the usage of a different set of classes. ADO.NET benefits the developer by providing two models for data access. One is a connected model where the connection with the database and the ability to perform data access is maintained. The other is a method to all the pertinent data in ADO.NET objects ahead of time, enabling the execution of data access on disconnected objects.
Where is ADO.NET today?
There are many development shops that still use ADO.NET because despite its age, it is extremely powerful and efficient. Many developers and development shops have shifted over to Object Relational Mapping (ORM) approaches to data access. ORMs have taken off because they are quick to ramp up at launch and they don’t require as much repeated rewriting of data access code as ADO.NET does. However, .NET developers are faced with little better data access options than ADO.NET provides and many prefer the granular control granted to them by this approach. They also look at the raw performance that ADO.NET affords the developer. In addition to performing well under general circumstances, ADO.NET includes a SQL Server Data Provider that is highly optimized for interaction with SQL Server. Once again the name of the game is speed, and ADO.NET uses SQL Server’s own Tabular Data Stream (TDS) format for exchanging information.
Native tools are typically the fastest and SQL’s TDS format is hard to beat. ADO.NET also supports XML which delivers a number of advantages, both to the framework and to the programmer utilizing the class library. The DataSet class, a component of ADO.NET works in a disconnected operation model, which makes for efficient, modular and scalable architecture. ADO.NET is built on a rich object model, meaning that logical inheritance makes customization easy to perform and the interface is simple to integrate.
So, for example, if you’ve developed a media player application for your Windows-based website that relies on MS SQL databases (MS SQL is Microsoft's version of the Structured Query Language (SQL) database management application) to store information, DataSet would be used in the code to manipulate the information (video library, customer preferences, account information and remaining credits), and .NET framework data providers would be used to control the data flow between these separate, but related, databases on your server.
Another way to visualize ADO.NET’s role is this: if your application was a restaurant, your data would be your meal, DataSet would be your chef, and .Net framework data providers would be the maitre d', the waitstaff and the kitchen crew.
As a standard component of the .NET framework, ADO.NET is supported by default on most Windows-based servers, and should not affect your monthly hosting fees
ADO.NET Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is tabular data stream (TDS)?
Tabular Data Stream is an application-level protocol used to transfer data between a server and a client. TDS sets the type of messages that can be sent in packets between computers, as well as the order in which those can be sent. TDS protocol was designed by Sybase Inc. for the Sybase SQL Server, and later developed by Microsoft for use in the Microsoft SQL server.
What is a class library?
A class library is a collection of prewritten, coded templates which can be utilized by programmers in the development of an application. Rather than having to code those individual instructions manually, the programmer instead specifies which classes will be utilized and creates an instant for objects they will be using from the class library. Utilizing class libraries not only speeds up programming, but ensure that tested procedures are performed accurately and in a standard way across applications.
Is ADO.NET available on a non-Windows hosting plan?
ADO.NET is part of Microsoft’s .NET framework, and so it requires a Windows server to host. However, there are some open-source projects, like Mono, that are attempting to implement the .NET framework to other platforms. Using these programs, it may be possible to utilize ADO.NET on a non-Windows server, but you should check with your host to ensure compatibility.
Does ADO.NET support object pooling?
Yes. ADO.NET can store (pool) a group of active objects in memory to be called upon as needed. Doing so allows ADO.NET to reduce the number of objects that need to be created and initialized, minimizing the use of system resources and performance.
How does ADO.NET provide both connected and disconnected database access?
The ADO.NET Framework utilizes both Connection Oriented Data Access Architecture and Disconnected Data Access Architecture. ADO.NET utilizes a DataSet class to allow the application to store and hold multiple tables in memory at the same time, rather than needing to continuously access the database. In order to get data into the DataSet, the application uses a DataAdapter to pull information from a DataReader (the connected access) and provide it to the DataSet (the disconnected access). Because the database information is being stored in the DataSet, the DataReader only needs to access it once, very quickly, and then it can disconnect from the database. This allows the program to conserve system resources and enhances the security of the database.
What do I need to know in order to program with ADO.NET?
If you’re thinking of utilizing ADO.NET, you should first have a clear understanding of relational database concepts, including table, row, column, primary keys, foreign keys, constraints, and views. You should be experienced in data query and modification, and comfortable using the SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE commands. A general familiarity with XML documents is recommended, as well as experience with Visual Basic. Previous experience building user interfaces will also be helpful. If you have all that, and you feel ready to start programming, there are plenty of resources available online to help you get started.
How does ADO.NET compare to classic ADO?
Classic ADO utilized only connection-oriented data access. The only in-memory store of data it supported was the recordset, which is used to hold a set of records from a single database table. ADO.NET utilizes DataSets to store data from multiple tables into memory, allowing it to utilize disconnected oriented data access.
What benefits will I get from using ADO.NET?
ADO.NET provides programmers with a number of benefits, including scalability, data source independences, interoperability, strongly-typed programming fields, and improved performance over other database connection classes.
What type of locking does ADO.NET provide?
ADO.NET allows you to specify Pessimistic or Optimistic locking. Pessimistic locking completely locks a data file while one user is updating it. Other users can view the data, but they cannot make any changes. Optimistic locking allows multiple users to open and update the same record simultaneously. In this case, the data is only locked briefly while an update is actually being applied.
What type of indexes are available?
ADO.NET supports clustered and non-clustered indexes. In clustered indexes, the physical rows in a data table are re-ordered to match the order they are listed in the index key. In this case, a table can only contain one clustered index, as everything has to remain in a single order. In a non-clustered index, the physical order does not have to match the key values, and a table can contain multiple non-clustered indexes.
How do Command Objects work?
ADO.NET utilizes command objects to execute queries against a database. Each command object executes a single query, performing an action such as creating, retrieving, adding, updating, or deleting a record.
How can I move a database from one server to another server?
The easiest way to do this is to back up the database from your source server as an SQL script. On the new server, you can then execute the SQL script to recreate the database.