Q&A: Will my favourite ORM Foo work with SQL Azure?

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


short answer: Quite probably, as SQL Azure is very similar to SQL Server

longer answer: Object Relational Mappers (ORMs) that work with SQL Server are likely but not guaranteed to work with SQL Azure. The differences between the RDBMS versions are small – but may cause problems, for example in tools used to create the mapping between objects and tables or in generated SQL from the ORM which expects “certain things” 🙂

More specifically:

  • ADO.NET Entity Framework / LINQ to Entities can be used with SQL Azure, but the Visual Studio designer does not currently work. You will need to point the designer at a version of your database running of SQL Server to create the mapping, then change the connection details to run against SQL Azure.
  • LINQ to SQL has similar issues to ADO.NET Entity Framework above
  • NHibernate can be used against SQL Azure
  • DevExpress XPO supports SQL Azure from version 9.3
  • DataObjects.Net supports SQL Azure
  • Open Access from Telerik works “seamlessly”  – their words not mine 🙂

The list above is by no means comprehensive – please leave a comment with details of other ORMs that work (or do not work) with SQL Azure.

Related Links:


Great User Group if based near Gloucester + Links from Entity Framework 4.0 session

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


I had a really fun evening doing “my final” EF 4.0 session last night (26th May 2010) at GL.NET based out of Gloucester (although secretly I made it into a IronRuby and Windows Azure session).

They are a great crowd and Jimmy makes for a fantastic host + it is a very nice venue (Symantec offices in Gloucester, lots of parking, good room etc) + free pizza + free SWAG + trip to pub afterwards (the topics were very varied!). What more could you ask for?

The next session is June 16th and will be on multi-tenanted ASP.NET MVC and comes highly recommended.

Links from my session:

Links and code from session on Entity Framework 4, Parallel and C# 4.0 new features

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


Last week (12th May 2010) I did a session in the city on lot of the new .NET 4.0 Stuff. My demo code and links below.


EF4 Links

Parallel Links

C# 4.0 New features

Links from UK TechDays 2010 sessions on Entity Framework, Parallel Programming and Azure

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


[I will do some longer posts around my sessions when I get back from holiday next week]

Big thanks to all those who attended my 3 sessions at TechDays this week (April 13th and 14th, 2010). I really enjoyed both days and watched some great session – my personal fave being the Silverlight/Expression session by my friend and colleague Mike Taulty.

The following links should help get you up and running on each of the technologies.

Entity Framework 4

Parallel Programming

And PDC 2009 session recordings to watch:



Windows Azure Platform

GuestPost: Unit Testing Entity Framework (v1) Dependent Code using TypeMock Isolator

Time for another guest post (check out others in the series), this time bringing together the world of mocking with the world of Entity Framework. A big thanks to Moses for agreeing to do this.

Unit Testing Entity Framework Dependent Code using TypeMock Isolator by Muhammad Mosa



Unit testing data access code in my opinion is a challenging thing. Let us consider unit tests and integration tests. In integration tests you are allowed to have environmental dependencies such as a physical database connection to insert, update, delete or retrieve your data. However when performing unit tests it is often much more efficient and productive to remove environmental dependencies. Instead you will need to fake these dependencies. Faking a database (also known as mocking) can be relatively straight forward but the version of Entity Framework released with .Net 3.5 SP1 has a number of implementation specifics which actually makes faking the existence of a database quite difficult.

Faking Entity Framework

As mentioned earlier, to effectively unit test you will need to fake/simulate Entity Framework calls to the database. There are many free open source mocking frameworks that can help you achieve this but it will require additional effort to overcome & workaround a number of limitations in those frameworks.

Examples of these limitations include:

  • Not able to fake calls to non virtual methods
  • Not able to fake sealed classes
  • Not able to fake LINQ to Entities queries (replace database calls with in-memory collection calls)

There is a mocking framework which is flexible enough to handle limitations such as those above. The commercially available TypeMock Isolator can do the job for you with less code and ultimately more readable unit tests.

I’m going to demonstrate tackling one of those limitations using MoQ as my mocking framework. Then I will tackle the same issue using TypeMock Isolator.

Mocking Entity Framework with MoQ

One basic need when faking Entity Framework is to fake the ObjectContext. This cannot be done by passing any connection string. You have to pass a correct Entity Framework connection string that specifies CSDL, SSDL and MSL locations along with a provider connection string. Assuming we are going to do that, we’ll explore another limitation.

The limitation we are going to face now is related to not being able to fake calls to non-virtual/overridable members with MoQ.

I have the following repository method that adds an EntityObject (instance of a Blog entity) to Blogs entity set in an ObjectContext.

public override void Add(Blog blog)
    if(BlogContext.Blogs.Any(b=>b.Name == blog.Name))
        throw new InvalidOperationException("Blog with same name already exists!");

The method does a very simple check that the name of the new Blog entity instance doesn’t exist. This is done through the simple LINQ query above. If the blog doesn’t already exist it simply adds it to the current context to be saved when SaveChanges of the ObjectContext instance (e.g. BlogContext) is called. However, if a blog with the same name exits, and exception (InvalideOperationException) will be thrown.

Let us now create a unit test for the Add method using MoQ.

public void Add_Should_Throw_InvalidOperationException_When_Blog_With_Same_Name_Already_Exits()
//(1) We shouldn't depend on configuration when doing unit tests! But, 
//its a workaround to fake the ObjectContext
    string connectionString = ConfigurationManager

    //(2) Arrange: Fake ObjectContext
    var fakeContext = new Mock<MyBlogContext>(connectionString);

    //(3) Next Line will pass, as ObjectContext now can be faked with proper connection string
    var repo = new BlogRepository(fakeContext.Object);

    //(4) Create fake ObjectQuery<Blog>. Will be used to substitute MyBlogContext.Blogs property
    var fakeObjectQuery = new Mock<ObjectQuery<Blog>>("[Blogs]",
    //(5) Arrange: Set Expectations
    //Next line will throw an exception by MoQ: 
    //System.ArgumentException: Invalid setup on a non-overridable member
    fakeObjectQuery.Setup(q => q.Any(b => b.Name == "NewBlog")).Returns(true);

    repo.Add(new Blog { Name = "NewBlog" });

This test method is checking to see if the correct exception ([ExpectedException(typeof(InvalidOperationException))]) is thrown when a developer attempts to Add a blog with a name that’s already exists.

  • On (1) a connection string is initialized from configuration file. To retrieve the full connection string.
  • On (2) a fake ObjectContext is being created. The ObjectContext here is MyBlogContext and its being created using this var fakeContext = new Mock<MyBlogContext>(connectionString); This way a fake context is being created using MoQ.
  • On (3) a BlogRepository instance is created. BlogRepository has dependency on generate Entity Framework ObjectContext, MyObjectContext. And so the fake context is passed to the constructor.

    var repo = new BlogRepository(fakeContext.Object);

  • On (4) a fake instance of ObjectQuery<Blog> is being created to use as a substitute to MyObjectContext.Blogs property as we will see in (5).
  • On (5) setup an expectation for calling Blogs property of MyBlogContext and substitute the return result with the fake ObjectQuery<Blog> instance created on (4).

When you run this test it will fail with MoQ throwing an exception because of this line:


This happens because the generate property MyBlogContext.Blogs is not virtual/overridable. And assuming it is virtual or you managed to make it virtual it will fail at the following line throwing the same exception:

fakeObjectQuery.Setup(q => q.Any(b => b.Name == “NewBlog”)).Returns(true);

This time the test will fail because the Any extension method is not virtual/overridable. You won’t be able to replace ObjectQuery<Blog> with fake in memory collection to test your LINQ to Entities queries.

Now lets see how replacing MoQ with TypeMock Isolator can help.

Mocking Entity Framework with TypeMock Isolator

The following is the same test method we had above for MoQ but this time implemented using TypeMock Isolator:

public void Add_New_Blog_That_Already_Exists_Should_Throw_InvalidOperationException()
    //(1) Create fake in memory collection of blogs
    var fakeInMemoryBlogs = new List<Blog> {new Blog {Name = "FakeBlog"}};

    //(2) create fake context
    var fakeContext = Isolate.Fake.Instance<MyBlogContext>();

    //(3) Setup expected call to MyBlogContext.Blogs property through the fake context
    Isolate.WhenCalled(() => fakeContext.Blogs)

    //(4) Create new blog with a name that already exits in the fake in memory collection in (1)
    var blog = new Blog {Name = "FakeBlog"};

    //(5) Instantiate instance of BlogRepository (Class under test)
    var repo = new BlogRepository(fakeContext);

    //(6) Acting by adding the newly created blog ()

When running the above test method it will pass as the Add method of BlogRepository is going to throw an InvalidOperationException which is the expected behaviour. Nothing prevents us from faking out the database interaction! Even faking ObjectContext  at (2) didn’t require a connection string. On (3) Isolator sets up a faking result for MyBlogContext.Blogs when its being called through the fake instance fakeContext created on (2). The faking result is just an in-memory collection declared an initialized on (1).

Finally at (6) action we call the Add method of BlogRepository passing a new Blog instance that has a name that’s already exists in the fake in-memory collection which we set up at (1). As expected the test will pass because it will throw the expected exception defined on top of the test method – InvalidOperationException.

TypeMock Isolator succeeded in faking Entity Framework with ease.


We explored how to write a simple unit test using TypeMock Isolator for code which is using Entity Framework. We also explored a few of the limitations of other mocking frameworks which TypeMock is successfully able to handle. There are workarounds that you can use to overcome limitations when using MoQ or Rhino Mock, however the workarounds will require you to write more code and your tests will likely be more complex.

For a comparison between different mocking frameworks take a look at this document produced by TypeMock. You might also want to check out this open source project to compare mocking frameworks.

I hope you enjoyed this post

Muhammad Mosa



Screencast of unit testing Entity Framework

Related Links

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


Slides and links for Entity Framework 4 and Azure from Devweek 2010

Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


Last week (March 2010) I presented on Entity Framework 4 and the Windows Azure Platform at www.devweek.com. As usual, it was a great conference and I caught up with lots of old friends and made some new ones along the way.

Entity Framework 4

Windows Azure and SQL Azure

Entity Framework 4 Related Links

  • Poll on Entity Framework 4 – one year on
  • 101 EF4 Resources
  • Recent resources on Entity Framework 4
  • Installing all the bits to demo Entity Framework 4 on the Visual Studio 2010 Release Candidate

    Azure Related Links

  • UK Azure Online Community – join today.
  • UK Windows Azure Site
  • Start working with Windows Azure
  • TCO and ROI calculator for Windows Azure


  • Poll on Entity Framework 4 – one year on

    Note: Cross posted from IUpdateable from Eric Nelson.


    12 months back (today is March 15th 2010) on the 16th of  March 2009 I created a poll on Entity Framework v1 – the marmite of ORMs? A quick poll….

    Entity Framework v1 was getting a mixed reception at the time – I met developers who genuinely hated it and I met developers who were loving the productivity improvements they were seeing. There were definitely issues with v1, too many IMHO. Which is why the product team placed a huge effort on listening to the community to drive the feature set for v2 (which ultimately was named Entity Framework 4 as it ships with .NET 4).

    I think overall the team have done a great job. It isn’t perfect in .NET 4 (which is why the team are busy on post .NET 4 improvements) but I would happily use it and recommend it for a wide variety of projects – much wider than I would have with v1.

    I am speaking on EF 4 at www.devweek.com this Wednesday and I thought it would be fun to put a new version of the poll out and see how v4 is being received. Obviously the big difference is we have not yet shipped EF4 vs when I did the original poll on EF1.

    March 2010 poll – please vote

    Summary of March 2009 poll – it was a tie between positive and negative

    Total votes 150

    Positive about EF v1 42 (15 + 19 + 8)

    Negative about EF v1  43 (34 + 9)