Oracle Firms Up Entity Framework Support
As Microsoft continues to make news about opening up its developer technologies (the latest being opening its Windows Azure cloud platform to Linux servers), it's easy to forget how the process works both ways. Witness last week's under-the-radar release by Oracle of the production data provider "for Entity Framework and LINQ developers." This lets Oracle developers do all their work in Visual Studio for certain projects while taking advantage of almost all the latest Microsoft database APIs.
My, how open source has changed things. Remember the old days when proprietary software vendors fought tooth and nail to convert users to their proprietary technologies? For you database developers, it used to be Microsoft (SQL Server) vs. Oracle vs. Borland vs. Sybase, and, on a broader scale, it evolved into .NET vs. Java. Developers were firmly entrenched in one camp or the other and felt free to viciously (and usually anonymously) flame the non-believers in forums, comments and blog posts.
Now, it seems, every software development tool will soon just work with every other software development tool. We're heading for one big, happy family of developers.
Anyway, back to the news of special importance to you data developers. I guess Oracle decided to bury the announcement of "ODAC 11.2 Release 4 and Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio (220.127.116.11.0)" because the beta has been out for quite some time. The 11.2 Release 3 download was posted exactly a year earlier.
Release 4 "introduces tools and data provider support for ADO.NET Entity Framework, Language Integrated Query (LINQ), and WCF Data Services," according to an Oracle data sheet (PDF here).
The release's database client works with Oracle Database 9.2 and above. On the Microsoft side, it supports Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4, with support for Entity Framework 4.1 and 4.2. It also supports OData, LINQ to Entities and "implicit REF CURSOR parameter binding." However, it doesn't support some of the newer Entity Framework features, such as Code First and (apparently) DbContext. (Non-support of the latter isn't mentioned explicitly in the latest announcement, but it wasn't included in earlier versions.)
To show developers how to use the Entity Framework with the data provider, Oracle has posted this article and an "Entity Framework, LINQ and Model-First for the Oracle Database" tutorial. Much more related information can be found at the Oracle Data Provider for .NET Developer's Guide.
The new production release comes in 32-bit and 64-bit downloads, with different installer/deployment options, including Xcopy.
The Oracle data provider is just one of about a dozen third-party ADO.NET providers, including MySQL.
What do you think of Oracle's support for Entity Framework and move toward more interoperable technologies in general? Comment here or drop me a line.
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.