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LINQ FAQ for Newbie's

Posted by Shivprasad Articles | LINQ July 13, 2009
In this section we will run through basics of LINQ and then see 5 basic LINQ queries which you will always need in your project for queries. While looking at the basics we will also try to learn what problem LINQ solves from the perspective of middle tier business objects.
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Introduction and Goal

In this section we will run through basics of LINQ and then see 5 basic LINQ queries which you will always need in your project for queries. While looking at the basics we will also try to learn what problem LINQ solves from the perspective of middle tier business objects.

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Define LINQ?

LINQ is a uniform programming model for any kind of data access. LINQ enables you to query and manipulate data independently of data sources. Below figure 'LINQ' shows how .NET language stands over LINQ programming model and works in a uniformed manner over any kind of data source. It's like a query language which can query any data source and any transform. LINQ also provides full type safety and compile time checking.
LINQ can serve as a good entity for middle tier. So it will sit in between the UI and data access layer.

LINQ.JPG

Figure - LINQ

Below is a simple sample of LINQ. We have a collection of data 'objcountries' to which LINQ will is making a query with country name 'India'. The collection 'objcountries' can be any data source dataset, datareader, XML etc. Below figure 'LINQ code snippet' shows how the 'ObjCountries' can be any can of data. We then query for the 'CountryCode' and loop through the same.

LINQcodesnippet.JPG

Figure: - LINQ code snippet

How does LINQ help us from the perspective of business objects?

One of the tedious jobs in business object is parsing and searching object collections. For instance consider the below figure where we want to search a country by an 'ID' value. So what we do is loop through the collection and get the object. Many may argue how about keeping a key in List or Array. The below example is just a sample. For instance if you want to search using country code and name, list / collection keys will not work with those multi-value searches.

1.JPG

In other words using LINQ we can query business object collections and filter the collection in a single LINQ query.

Can you explain how a basic LINQ Query looks like?

In order to understand the basic query for LINQ, let's make a small sample project. Let's take customer data which has customer and orders. 

Customer Name

Customer Code

City

Orders

Khadak

001

Mumbai

  • Shirts

  • Socks

Shiv

002

Delhi

  • Pants

Raju

003

Mumbai

  • Socks

Shaam

004

Delhi

  • Shoes

We have made the data a bit complex by have one customer and multiple orders , in other words we have one as to many relationship.

2.JPG

So let's make two classes one is the customer class aggregated with a collection of addresses class. Below is how the class structure will look like to accommodate the one as to many relationships of customer and multiple addresses.

3.JPG

The multiple addresses are the array collection aggregated inside the customer class. So below is the code snippet which is loading the customer and address collections with hard coded data provided in the above table. Currently its hardcoded but this can be loaded from database or some other source also.

   clsCustomer[] objCustomer = new clsCustomer[]
{
    new clsCustomer
{
    CustomerName="Khadak",customerCode="001",City="Mumbai",Orders = new clsOrder[]
{
    new clsOrder{ProductName="Shirt"}, new clsOrder{ProductName="Socks"}}},
    new clsCustomer{CustomerName="Shiv",customerCode="002",City="Delhi",Orders = new clsOrder[]{
        new clsOrder{ProductName="Pants"}}},
    new clsCustomer{CustomerName="Raju",customerCode="003",City="Mumbai",Orders = new clsOrder[]{
        new clsOrder{ProductName="Socks"}}},
    new clsCustomer{CustomerName="Shaam",customerCode="004",City="Delhi",Orders = new clsOrder[]{
        new clsOrder{ProductName="Shoes"}}}};

A basic LINQ query looks like something as shown below. Its start with the verb from followed by the data type and object i.e. 'clsCustomer' and 'obj' object. 'objCustomer' is the collection which has customer and addresses which we have loaded in the top section. 'select obj' specifies that we need all the values.

from clsCustomer obj in objCustomer select obj

Below figure shows in the right hand side the query in LINQ. In the left hand side we loop through the object collection.
   4.JPG

We have made a simple project which demonstrates the basic LINQ query; you can download the same see how it works actually. Below figure shows the execution of the simple query.

5.JPG

How do we write a LINQ query to search with criteria?

We need to put the where clause before the 'select' keyword.

return from clsCustomer Obj in objCustomer where Obj.customerCode == "001" select Obj;

Below figure shows the where clause in action.

6.JPG

How can do a join using LINQ query?

Below is the LINQ code snippet for creating joins between object collections. In this case we are creating a join on customer and orders. If you remember the order collection was contained in the customer class.

     return from clsCustomer ObjCust in objCustomer from clsOrder ObjOrder in ObjCust.Orders select ObjCust;

Below is the result of how LINQ join query looks like.

7.JPG

How can we do a group by using LINQ query?

Below is the code snippet which shows how group by query is written using LINQ. You can see we have created first a temp variable i.e. 'GroupTemp' and then we have used the 'Select' clause to return the same.

  var GroupCustomers = from ObjCust in objCustomer group ObjCust
            by ObjCust.City
            into GroupTemp select
        new {GroupTemp.Key,GroupTemp};

Below image shows group by in action.

8.JPG

How can we do an order by using LINQ query?

Order by in LINQ is pretty simple. We just need to insert order by before the 'Select' query.

return from clsCustomer ObjCust in objCustomer orderby ObjCust.City select ObjCust;

Below figure shows how we have ordered on the city name.

9.JPG

Source Code

You can Download the Source Code from top of this article

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