Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Sorry State of ADO.NET Entity Framework 1.0

A few months ago I test-drove the ADO.NET Entity Framework 1.0 Beta 3. While I enjoyed certain aspects of EF, such as LINQ and graphical modelling, the overall experience of using EF hasn't been that great. In fact, my very first blog on this site was dedicated to EF bashing. My major complaint about EF was its intrusive approach to ORM - instead of using PONO (like in Hibernate), it generates bloated relational database-centric data entity models. This is against the domain driven design method. Another problem I encountered was its shoddy implementation of lazy loading (or lack of it, as a matter of fact).

I then realised that I was not alone in feeling disenchanted by EF. In the same month of my blog, several hundred people have signed up on the ADO.NET Entity Framework Vote of No-Confidence open letter, many of whom are from Microsoft's Most Valued Partners (MVP). In last month's issue of Visual Studio Magazine, the article A Vote for Transparency gave a blow-by-blow account of events on the controversy surrounding EF, including the aformentioned open letter. So Microsoft decided to make the EF version 2 design exercise a more transparent process. This no doubt is a step forward. However, it is too little too late for EF v1. Looks like EF v1 will not receive any significant improvements or address any of the communities concerns in the open letter. In fact, I doubt that any EF design improvements have been made into .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (released in August 2008) since EF 1.0 Beta 3 (released in December 2007).

On a side note: although some people whine about JCP program being slow (e.g. the Java closure debate) and sometimes committee-driven, comparing to the traditional closed-door design pattern like EF v1, JCP is a great leap forward and the result speaks for itself. The JCP specifications are more readily accepted and adopted by the community than a proprietary one like EF.

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