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Getting Started with Entity Framework 4.0 Database First and ASP.NET 4 Web Forms - Part 4

By Tom Dykstra|

The Contoso University sample web application demonstrates how to create ASP.NET Web Forms applications using the Entity Framework 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010. For information about the tutorial series, see the first tutorial in the series

Working with Related Data

In the previous tutorial you used the EntityDataSource control to filter, sort, and group data. In this tutorial you'll display and update related data.

You'll create the Instructors page that shows a list of instructors. When you select an instructor, you see a list of courses taught by that instructor. When you select a course, you see details for the course and a list of students enrolled in the course. You can edit the instructor name, hire date, and office assignment. The office assignment is a separate entity set that you access through a navigation property.

You can link master data to detail data in markup or in code. In this part of the tutorial, you'll use both methods.

Image01

Displaying and Updating Related Entities in a GridView Control

Create a new web page named Instructors.aspx that uses the Site.Master master page, and add the following markup to the Content control named Content2:

     <h2>Instructors</h2>
    <div>
        <asp:EntityDataSource ID="InstructorsEntityDataSource" runat="server" 
            ContextTypeName="ContosoUniversity.DAL.SchoolEntities" EnableFlattening="False" 
            EntitySetName="People"
            Where="it.HireDate is not null" Include="OfficeAssignment" EnableUpdate="True">
        </asp:EntityDataSource>
    </div>

This markup creates an EntityDataSource control that selects instructors and enables updates. The div element configures markup to render on the left so that you can add a column on the right later.

Between the EntityDataSource markup and the closing </div> tag, add the following markup that creates a GridView control and a Label control that you'll use for error messages:

         <asp:GridView ID="InstructorsGridView" runat="server" AllowPaging="True" AllowSorting="True"
            AutoGenerateColumns="False" DataKeyNames="PersonID" DataSourceID="InstructorsEntityDataSource"
            OnSelectedIndexChanged="InstructorsGridView_SelectedIndexChanged" 
            SelectedRowStyle-BackColor="LightGray" 
            onrowupdating="InstructorsGridView_RowUpdating">
            <Columns>
                <asp:CommandField ShowSelectButton="True" ShowEditButton="True" />
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Name" SortExpression="LastName">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="InstructorLastNameLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("LastName") %>'></asp:Label>,
                        <asp:Label ID="InstructorFirstNameLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("FirstMidName") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                    <EditItemTemplate>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="InstructorLastNameTextBox" runat="server" Text='<%# Bind("FirstMidName") %>' Width="7em"></asp:TextBox>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="InstructorFirstNameTextBox" runat="server" Text='<%# Bind("LastName") %>' Width="7em"></asp:TextBox>
                    </EditItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Hire Date" SortExpression="HireDate">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="InstructorHireDateLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("HireDate", "{0:d}") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                    <EditItemTemplate>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="InstructorHireDateTextBox" runat="server" Text='<%# Bind("HireDate", "{0:d}") %>' Width="7em"></asp:TextBox>
                    </EditItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Office Assignment" SortExpression="OfficeAssignment.Location">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="InstructorOfficeLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("OfficeAssignment.Location") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                    <EditItemTemplate>
                        <asp:TextBox ID="InstructorOfficeTextBox" runat="server" 
                        Text='<%# Eval("OfficeAssignment.Location") %>' Width="7em"
                        oninit="InstructorOfficeTextBox_Init"></asp:TextBox>
                    </EditItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
            </Columns>
            <SelectedRowStyle BackColor="LightGray"></SelectedRowStyle>
        </asp:GridView>
        <asp:Label ID="ErrorMessageLabel" runat="server" Text="" Visible="false" ViewStateMode="Disabled"></asp:Label>
        

This GridView control enables row selection, highlights the selected row with a light gray background color, and specifies handlers (which you'll create later) for the SelectedIndexChanged and Updating events. It also specifies PersonID for the DataKeyNames property, so that the key value of the selected row can be passed to another control that you'll add later.

The last column contains the instructor's office assignment, which is stored in a navigation property of the Person entity because it comes from an associated entity. Notice that the EditItemTemplate element specifies Eval instead of Bind, because the GridView control cannot directly bind to navigation properties in order to update them. You'll update the office assignment in code. To do that, you'll need a reference to the TextBox control, and you'll get and save that in the TextBox control's Init event.

Following the GridView control is a Label control that's used for error messages. The control's Visible property is false, and view state is turned off, so that the label will appear only when code makes it visible in response to an error.

Open the Instructors.aspx.cs file and add the following using statement:

using ContosoUniversity.DAL;

Add a private class field immediately after the partial-class name declaration to hold a reference to the office assignment text box.

        private TextBox instructorOfficeTextBox;

Add a stub for the SelectedIndexChanged event handler that you'll add code for later. Also add a handler for the office assignment TextBox control's Init event so that you can store a reference to the TextBox control. You'll use this reference to get the value the user entered in order to update the entity associated with the navigation property.

         protected void InstructorsGridView_SelectedIndexChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
        {
        }

        protected void InstructorOfficeTextBox_Init(object sender, EventArgs e)
        {
            instructorOfficeTextBox = sender as TextBox;
        }

You'll use the GridView control's Updating event to update the Location property of the associated OfficeAssignment entity. Add the following handler for the Updating event:

         protected void InstructorsGridView_RowUpdating(object sender, GridViewUpdateEventArgs e)
        {
            using (var context = new SchoolEntities())
            {
                var instructorBeingUpdated = Convert.ToInt32(e.Keys[0]);
                var officeAssignment = (from o in context.OfficeAssignments
                                        where o.InstructorID == instructorBeingUpdated
                                        select o).FirstOrDefault();

                try
                {
                    if (String.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(instructorOfficeTextBox.Text) == false)
                    {
                        if (officeAssignment == null)
                        {
                            context.OfficeAssignments.AddObject(OfficeAssignment.CreateOfficeAssignment(instructorBeingUpdated, instructorOfficeTextBox.Text, null));
                        }
                        else
                        {
                            officeAssignment.Location = instructorOfficeTextBox.Text;
                        }
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        if (officeAssignment != null)
                        {
                            context.DeleteObject(officeAssignment);
                        }
                    }
                    context.SaveChanges();
                }
                catch (Exception)
                {
                    e.Cancel = true;
                    ErrorMessageLabel.Visible = true;
                    ErrorMessageLabel.Text = "Update failed.";
                    //Add code to log the error.
                }
            }
        }

This code is run when the user clicks Update in a GridView row. The code uses LINQ to Entities to retrieve the OfficeAssignment entity that's associated with the current Person entity, using the PersonID of the selected row from the event argument.

The code then takes one of the following actions depending on the value in the InstructorOfficeTextBox control:

  • If the text box has a value and there's no OfficeAssignment entity to update, it creates one.
  • If the text box has a value and there's an OfficeAssignment entity, it updates the Location property value.
  • If the text box is empty and an OfficeAssignment entity exists, it deletes the entity.

After this, it saves the changes to the database. If an exception occurs, it displays an error message.

Run the page.

Image02

Click Edit and all fields change to text boxes.

Image03

Change any of these values, including Office Assignment. Click Update and you'll see the changes reflected in the list.

Displaying Related Entities in a Separate Control

Each instructor can teach one or more courses, so you'll add an EntityDataSource control and a GridView control to list the courses associated with whichever instructor is selected in the instructors GridView control. To create a heading and the EntityDataSource control for courses entities, add the following markup between the error message Label control and the closing </div> tag:

         <h3>Courses Taught</h3>
        <asp:EntityDataSource ID="CoursesEntityDataSource" runat="server" 
            ContextTypeName="ContosoUniversity.DAL.SchoolEntities" EnableFlattening="False" 
            EntitySetName="Courses" 
            Where="@PersonID IN (SELECT VALUE instructor.PersonID FROM it.People AS instructor)">
            <WhereParameters>
                <asp:ControlParameter ControlID="InstructorsGridView" Type="Int32" Name="PersonID" PropertyName="SelectedValue" />
            </WhereParameters>
        </asp:EntityDataSource>

The Where parameter contains the value of the PersonID of the instructor whose row is selected in the InstructorsGridView control. The Where property contains a subselect command that gets all associated Person entities from a Course entity's People navigation property and selects the Course entity only if one of the associated Person entities contains the selected PersonID value.

To create the GridView control., add the following markup immediately following the CoursesEntityDataSource control (before the closing </div> tag):

         <asp:GridView ID="CoursesGridView" runat="server" 
            DataSourceID="CoursesEntityDataSource"
            AllowSorting="True" AutoGenerateColumns="False"
            SelectedRowStyle-BackColor="LightGray" 
            DataKeyNames="CourseID">
            <EmptyDataTemplate>
                <p>No courses found.</p>
            </EmptyDataTemplate>
            <Columns>
                <asp:CommandField ShowSelectButton="True" />
                <asp:BoundField DataField="CourseID" HeaderText="ID" ReadOnly="True" SortExpression="CourseID" />
                <asp:BoundField DataField="Title" HeaderText="Title" SortExpression="Title" />
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Department" SortExpression="DepartmentID">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="GridViewDepartmentLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("Department.Name") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
            </Columns>
        </asp:GridView>

Because no courses will be displayed if no instructor is selected, an EmptyDataTemplate element is included.

Run the page.

Image04

Select an instructor who has one or more courses assigned, and the course or courses appear in the list. (Note: although the database schema allows multiple courses, in the test data supplied with the database no instructor actually has more than one course. You can add courses to the database yourself using the Server Explorer window or the CoursesAdd.aspx page, which you'll add in a later tutorial.)

Image05

The CoursesGridView control shows only a few course fields. To display all the details for a course, you'll use a DetailsView control for the course that the user selects. In Instructors.aspx, add the following markup after the closing </div> tag (make sure you place this markup after the closing div tag, not before it):

     <div>
        <h3>Course Details</h3>
        <asp:EntityDataSource ID="CourseDetailsEntityDataSource" runat="server" 
            ContextTypeName="ContosoUniversity.DAL.SchoolEntities" EnableFlattening="False" 
            EntitySetName="Courses"
            AutoGenerateWhereClause="False" Where="it.CourseID = @CourseID" Include="Department,OnlineCourse,OnsiteCourse,StudentGrades.Person"
            OnSelected="CourseDetailsEntityDataSource_Selected">
            <WhereParameters>
                <asp:ControlParameter ControlID="CoursesGridView" Type="Int32" Name="CourseID" PropertyName="SelectedValue" />
            </WhereParameters>
        </asp:EntityDataSource>
        <asp:DetailsView ID="CourseDetailsView" runat="server" AutoGenerateRows="False"
            DataSourceID="CourseDetailsEntityDataSource">
            <EmptyDataTemplate>
                <p>
                    No course selected.</p>
            </EmptyDataTemplate>
            <Fields>
                <asp:BoundField DataField="CourseID" HeaderText="ID" ReadOnly="True" SortExpression="CourseID" />
                <asp:BoundField DataField="Title" HeaderText="Title" SortExpression="Title" />
                <asp:BoundField DataField="Credits" HeaderText="Credits" SortExpression="Credits" />
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Department">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="DetailsViewDepartmentLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("Department.Name") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="Location">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="LocationLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("OnsiteCourse.Location") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
                <asp:TemplateField HeaderText="URL">
                    <ItemTemplate>
                        <asp:Label ID="URLLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("OnlineCourse.URL") %>'></asp:Label>
                    </ItemTemplate>
                </asp:TemplateField>
            </Fields>
        </asp:DetailsView>
    </div>

This markup creates an EntityDataSource control that's bound to the Courses entity set. The Where property selects a course using the CourseID value of the selected row in the courses GridView control. The markup specifies a handler for the Selected event, which you'll use later for displaying student grades, which is another level lower in the hierarchy.

In Instructors.aspx.cs, create the following stub for the CourseDetailsEntityDataSource_Selected method. (You'll fill this stub out later in the tutorial; for now, you need it so that the page will compile and run.)

         protected void CourseDetailsEntityDataSource_Selected(object sender, EntityDataSourceSelectedEventArgs e)
        {
        }

Run the page.

Image06

Initially there are no course details because no course is selected. Select an instructor who has a course assigned, and then select a course to see the details.

Image07

Using the EntityDataSource "Selected" Event to Display Related Data

Finally, you want to show all of the enrolled students and their grades for the selected course. To do this, you'll use the Selected event of the EntityDataSource control bound to the course DetailsView.

In Instructors.aspx, add the following markup after the DetailsView control:

         <h3>Student Grades</h3>
        <asp:ListView ID="GradesListView" runat="server">
            <EmptyDataTemplate>
                <p>No student grades found.</p>
            </EmptyDataTemplate>
            <LayoutTemplate>
                <table border="1" runat="server" id="itemPlaceholderContainer">
                    <tr runat="server">
                        <th runat="server">
                            Name
                        </th>
                        <th runat="server">
                            Grade
                        </th>
                    </tr>
                    <tr id="itemPlaceholder" runat="server">
                    </tr>
                </table>
            </LayoutTemplate>
            <ItemTemplate>
                <tr>
                    <td>
                        <asp:Label ID="StudentLastNameLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("Person.LastName") %>' />,
                        <asp:Label ID="StudentFirstNameLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("Person.FirstMidName") %>' />
                    </td>
                    <td>
                        <asp:Label ID="StudentGradeLabel" runat="server" Text='<%# Eval("Grade") %>' />
                    </td>
                </tr>
            </ItemTemplate>
        </asp:ListView>

This markup creates a ListView control that displays a list of students and their grades for the selected course. No data source is specified because you'll databind the control in code. The EmptyDataTemplate element provides a message to display when no course is selected—in that case, there are no students to display. The LayoutTemplate element creates an HTML table to display the list, and the ItemTemplate specifies the columns to display. The student ID and the student grade are from the StudentGrade entity, and the student name is from the Person entity that the Entity Framework makes available in the Person navigation property of the StudentGrade entity.

In Instructors.aspx.cs, replace the stubbed-out CourseDetailsEntityDataSource_Selected method with the following code:

         protected void CourseDetailsEntityDataSource_Selected(object sender, EntityDataSourceSelectedEventArgs e)
        {
            var course = e.Results.Cast<Course>().FirstOrDefault();
            if (course != null)
            {
                var studentGrades = course.StudentGrades.ToList();
                GradesListView.DataSource = studentGrades;
                GradesListView.DataBind();
            }
        }

The event argument for this event provides the selected data in the form of a collection, which will have zero items if nothing is selected or one item if a Course entity is selected. If a Course entity is selected, the code uses the First method to convert the collection to a single object. It then gets StudentGrade entities from the navigation property, converts them to a collection, and binds the GradesListView control to the collection.

This is sufficient to display grades, but you want to make sure that the message in the empty data template is displayed the first time the page is displayed and whenever a course is not selected. To do that, create the following method, which you'll call from two places:

         private void ClearStudentGradesDataSource()
        {
            var emptyStudentGradesList = new List<StudentGrade>();
            GradesListView.DataSource = emptyStudentGradesList;
            GradesListView.DataBind();
        }

Call this new method from the Page_Load method to display the empty data template the first time the page is displayed. And call it from the InstructorsGridView_SelectedIndexChanged method because that event is raised when an instructor is selected, which means new courses are loaded into the courses GridView control and none is selected yet. Here are the two calls:

         protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
        {
            if (!IsPostBack)
            {
                ClearStudentGradesDataSource();                
            }
        }
         protected void InstructorsGridView_SelectedIndexChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
        {
            ClearStudentGradesDataSource();
        }

Run the page.

Image08

Select an instructor that has a course assigned, and then select the course.

Image09

You have now seen a few ways to work with related data. In the following tutorial, you'll learn how to add relationships between existing entities, how to remove relationships, and how to add a new entity that has a relationship to an existing entity.

Author Information

Tom Dykstra

Tom Dykstra – Tom Dykstra is a Senior Programming Writer on Microsoft's Web Platform & Tools Content Team...