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Building an N-Layer ASP.NET Application with LINQ

.NET 3.5 has a lot of great new features that can significantly enhance developer productivity.  I've been spending some time lately working on a little sample application that demonstrates how an N-Layer ASP.NET 3.5 application can be built using LINQ, lambdas and LINQ with stored procedures.  The application is for a talk I'll be giving at DevConnections in April discussing how LINQ technologies can be used in an N-Layer architecture.  In a blog post comparing different LINQ options I mentioned that I'd be posting the code download as soon as it was ready.

The application provides a presentation layer, business layer, data layer and model layer through separate projects as shown next:


It also demonstrates how the new ListView control can be used to display data, perform insert, update and delete operations and nest other controls such as the GridView.  Databinding on the presentation layer is mainly done using the ObjectDataSource control.

Application Example

All of the queries performed in the application go against an object model created using the Visual Studio 2008 LINQ to SQL Designer. 

Note:  The included Northwind SQL Express database has been modified slightly to add a TimeStamp field into the Customer and Orders tables and contains several custom stored procedures (sprocs aren't required unless using that portion of the application).  Adding TimeStamp fields simplifies updates so be aware that if you change the connection string to point to a standard Northwind database you'll get an error since the TimeStamp fields will be missing.

3 Options for Data Access

Rather than focusing solely on LINQ, I wanted to show different options for data access that .NET 3.5 offers so that developers can get a feel for what's available in addition to standard LINQ queries that seem to get most of the attention these days.  I ended up creating six main data layer classes as shown next:

Customer Query Classes:

  • CustomerDBLINQ - Executes customer related queries using inline LINQ
  • CustomerDBLambda - Executes customer related queries using lambda expressions
  • CustomerDBSprocs - Executes customer related queries using stored procedures and LINQ

Order Query Classes:

  • OrderDBLINQ - Executes order related queries using inline LINQ
  • OrderDBLambda - Executes order related queries using lambda expressions
  • OrderDBSprocs - Executes order related queries using stored procedures and LINQ

I still lean toward using stored procedures due to the security and maintenance benefits they offer in more enterprise environments, but for small queries I actually prefer lambda expressions over LINQ (not sure why...just feels more object oriented I guess).  If you currently use stored procedures in your applications and haven't checked out the new LINQ to SQL Designer you'll be impressed with how easy it is to call stored procedures and pass parameters.  You never have to see or create another SqlCommand or SqlParameter object again ( many cases anyway).

Switching Between Data Access Classes

By changing a value in web.config you can switch between the different data layer classes and see which option you prefer (LINQ, lambdas or LINQ with sprocs).  All of the data access classes perform the same overall tasks, they just use different techniques to do it.

    Used to define which DB layer class should be loaded and used. 
    Valid customer values include:  Data.CustomerDBSprocs, Data.CustomerLINQ, Data.CustomerLambda
    Valid order values include: Data.OrderDBSprocs, Data.OrderLINQ, Data.OrderLambda
  <add key="CustomerDBType" value="Data.CustomerDBLINQ" />
  <add key="OrderDBType" value="Data.OrderDBLINQ" />
  <!-- When the following key is set to "true" ensure that 
EnablePartialRendering is set to false on the Default.aspx ScriptManager control --> <add key="EnableDataContextLogging" value="false" /> </appSettings>

Teaches LINQ, Lambdas, ListView
Requirements .NET 3.5
Download Code: Click Here


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