Category Archives: T4

EF6 CodeFirst View Generation T4 Template for C# updated for EF6 Beta1

Entity Framework 6 Beta 1 has shipped. The good news is that among (many) others it contains a few changes to view generation. There is now a public API on the StorageMappingItemCollection type that can return views for a given StorageMappingItemCollection instance. The bad news is that some of the changes we introduced in this area in the Beta version are breaking. This means that views created with the EF6 CodeFirst View Generation T4 Template for C# I created for the EF6 Alpha will no longer work with the Beta version and need to be recreated. The main changes (apart from adding the public API) to view generation in Beta are:

Because of the above breaking changes I updated the EF6 CodeFirst View Generation T4 Template for C# to work with EF6 Beta 1. Note that the new version uses the new public API for view generation and therefore it requires that your project has a reference to the EntityFramework.dll shipped with EF6 Beta 1. Also, you cannot generate views with the new version and re-use them in an EF6 Alpha project.
Installation steps have not changed comparing to the previous version and you can found them in this post. You shall not have to uninstall the previous version – the new vsix should replace the old one.


Entity Framework 6 and pre-generated views

The version for EF6 RTM is now available.

(If you are interested in pre-generated views in EF6 take also a look at this .)

Entity Framework 6 is here. Even though it is in a very early stage it already looks exciting – a lot of improvements in Migrations (multi-tenant migrations, migrations history table customizations), Async, DI for resolving dependencies, code based configuration. Most of it (including features shipped in EF5 – e.g. enums) is running on both .NET Framework 4 and .NET Framework 4.5. In addition trying all of this is as simple as 1, 2, 3 – signed nightly builds are available on a nuget feed. We also take contributions and are thankful to everyone who has already contributed. There is one thing in EF6 that is missing however – the ability to create pre-generated views. I would love it to stay this way but unfortunately views are still one of the problematic areas in EF6. We see some promising activities around views and I hope this will help resolve or at least relieve the problem but for now the solution is still to pre-generate views. So, how do you pre-generate views in EF6? In the previous versions of EF you would either use EdmGen or EF Power Tools. Heck, you could even use my T4 templates. The problem is that all these tools are using System.Data.Entity.Design.dll to generate views and this code was not open sourced. Also, the code generated by System.Data.Entity.Design.dll will not work (without modifications) for EF6. So, it seems it is not possible to pre-generate views on EF6 then… But wait, EF6 is open source isn’t it? Why not make the code that is needed to create views public to enable view generation? It’s one option but there is also a second option – hack the system. While I strongly believe the first option is the right thing to do in the long run for now I went with the second option. There is one main reason for this – making some random functions public to make stuff work is less then ideal. It would be much better to add a nice(r), small API for view generation that could be used by tools that need to generate views. Therefore I decided to create a T4 template for generating views which, at the moment, is using reflection to get what it needs. I treat it just as a prototype (that’s one of the reasons why only C# version exists at the moment) and I hope it will help me define the right API for view generation. When I get to this point I will be able to remove the reflection hacks and just use the API. There is one more thing about the template itself. Since it is not possible to use System.Data.Entity.Design.dll the code needs to be generated by the template itself. It’s a bit more work but allows for much more flexibility. For instance, view generators based on System.Data.Entity.Design.dll were prone to the “No logical space left to create more user strings” error caused by the number of strings in the generated code that could be so big that it reached the .NET metadata format limit on the number of user string characters. This error would prevent an application from starting. This problem is now solved – the template creates an xml file that contains actual view definitions and saves this file in the assembly as an embedded resource. When the EF stack requests views the code generated by the template loads views from the embedded xml file. Using the template is not much different from using the templates for EF5 as it is too published on Visual Studio Code Gallery. First, if you have not already, setup the nuget feed containing EF6 assemblies. Create a new project and add the EF6 nuget package (make sure to select “Include Prelease” in the dropdown at the top of the window) from the feed you created. Now you can start writing your app. Once you have something that compiles right-click on your project and select Add→New Item (Ctrl+Shift+A). In the “Add New Item” window select “Online” on the left. You may want to filter by EF or EF6. Select the “EF6 CodeFirst View Generation T4 Template for C#”. Change the name of the .tt file so that it starts with the name of your context and press the “Add” button:

Once it’s done you should see the template and two new files added to your project – one of the files is the embedded xml resource file containing views and the second is the C# files used to load views from the first file:

If you need to uninstall the templates go to Tools→Extensions and Updates… select the template from the list and click the “Uninstall” button.

That’s it for now. Use EF6, enjoy the template and report bugs for both…

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Entity Framework Code First View Generation Templates Updated

Everyone fights to be on the first page of the Google search results. But sometimes it’s not cool. One of the cases when it’s not cool is when you introduce a bug that causes a link to your blog to pop up on the first page of the Google search results. Can it be worse? How about the link to your blog being not only on the first page of the Google search results but also *the only* link on the Google search results. Can it be even worse? How about the only result not only in Google but in Bing as well (Hey, it’s a tie: ). Sure, it will add some traffic to your blog but it’s a bad kind of traffic. Desperate people looking for a solution to a problem that seemingly can be solved by only one guy on this planet. Now, I feel unique. Unfortunately in a bad sense. Why? Because a bug that was in T4 templates for generating views for CodeFirst apps made all the above a true story. When the templates were used on Visual Studio 2012 the user would get the an exception saying: “The default target Entity Framework version requires the edmx schema version or lower. The specified schema is version To avoid this warning specify the target Entity Framework version explicitly.” (now Google and Bing should show two results 😉 ). I noticed this the first time when I wanted to show the integration of Visual Studio and Visual Studio Gallery to my sister. Then it was reported by a reader as a comment to the first post on view generation and code first I wrote some time ago. Then I saw it more and more often in search engine terms in the stats of this blog. Today I finally found some time to fix the bug and update the templates to the Visual Studio Gallery. I tested the fix on Visual Studio 2012 (C# and VB.NET projects, both targeting .NET Framework 4.5 and .NET Framework 4) and on Visual Studio 2010 (C# and VB.NET project, targeting .NET Framework 4) and did not get the exception anymore. The new templates have version 1.0.1. If you installed version 1.0.0 you probably need to uninstall the old templates (Tools → Extensions and Updates) and install new ones. I have not tried installing new templates without uninstalling old ones – it may or may not work. If you hit any new problems let me know.

Entity Framework Code First View Generation Templates On Visual Studio Code Gallery

Some time ago I created T4 templates for creating pre-generated views for Entity Framework Code First applications. I wanted to make them available as soon as possible so I just uploaded them as a zip file to one of my sites and provided a link. This worked as a short-term solution but long-term I wanted something better. Something that would not require manual work. Something that would integrate with Visual Studio seamlessly. Something that is actually called Visual Studio Code Gallery. And it happened yesterday. Yesterday I published the templates on the Visual Studio Code Galery.

Using the templates

First you need to download the templates. You can do it directly from Visual Studio. Right click on your project and select Add -> New Item (Ctrl+Shift+A). In the Add New Item dialog go to “Online templates”:

Add New Item - Online Templates

and search for “EF Views”. This should make the “EF CodeFirst View Generation T4 Template for C#/VB” show up (note: only the template for the language of the current project will show up).

Add New Item - Search Templates

Change the name of the file at the bottom to {Context} where {Context} is the name of the class derived from DbContext you want to create pre-generated views for.
Click “Add” to add the template to your project. Wait for the views to be generated (note: for bigger models view generation may take an extended amount of time).

You can also install templates manually just by downloading vsix files from Visual Studio Code Gallery and pressing “Enter”. Here are direct links to the templates:

Once you installed the templates you can find them in the “Code” category. Right click on your project and select Add -> New Item (Ctrl+Shift+A). In the “Add New Item” dialog go to the “Code” section:

Add New Item - Using Installed Templates

If needed the templates can be uninstalled from Extension Manager (Tools -> Extension Manager):

Unistalling Templates

Happy coding.

Pawel Kadluczka

Entity Framework Code First and Pre-generated Views

When working with Entity Framework view generation may take a long time for bigger or complicated models. The workaround for this problem is to use pre-generated views. In case of Database First and Model First approaches you can use T4 templates that will create the pre-generated views (you can find more details here). But what to do when using Code First approach? One possibility is to use Entity Framework Power Tools – just right-click on the file containing your DbContext derived class and select “Optimize Data Model”. Voila – views are created. But what if you need more control, cannot use UI (e.g. you want your build system to create the pre-generated views) or the tool for whatever reason does not work? You can for instance follow this 5 steps:

  • Get Edmx file for your model using EdmxWriter.WriteEdmx() method
  • Retrieve csdl, msl, ssdl from the edmx file and save them
  • From the Visual Studio Command Prompt run EdmGen with mode parameter set to ViewGeneration (i.e. /mode:ViewGeneration)
  • Add the generated C#/VB.Net file to your project
  • Repeat each time you change your model

Easy? Maybe. Error prone? Probably. Cumbersome? For sure. But now there is a third way. Similarly to the T4 templates for Model and Database First workflows I created T4 templates for creating pre-generated views for Code First approach. Now, you would just add the right (C# or VB.Net) template to your project, rename it so that it contains the name of the context you want to create the views for (e.g. and generate your views by right clicking the template and selecting “Run Custom Tool” menu option. Note that creating the pre-generated views with the template will take approximately the same amount of time it takes to create views at runtime – you are just doing the work that would be done at runtime at design time. The templates are (temporarily) available here. I will update this post when they are moved to the final location.The templates are available on the Visual Studio Code Gallery. See this post for more details.

Pawel Kadluczka