Entity Framework: Getting Started – Finding the Tutorial(s)

How do you find answers to questions about a Microsoft technology? How can a writer make what they write easy to find? And what tutorials about Entity Framework (“EF”) are available?

Finding Answers

Studies say you probably start with search engines like Bing or Google, which often link to topics in our documentation. Next you might use the MSDN library table of contents in order to get some context for the topic, or to find related topics. On the other hand, the search engine may lead you to someone in the community who has an answer just as good as ours, or better if they have some special expertise.

Most people do not start by looking in the MSDN Library table of contents. Writers such as myself probably do this more, since we have become very familiar with it because the topics we write are often part of the MSDN Library. Once I’ve found where some topics are, it’s often faster for me to use the table of contents than to use search.

But this morning I had trouble finding “Entity Framework” in the MSDN Library table of contents. I first unsuccessfully looked around the SQL Server Books Online, and then a colleague told me to look in .Net Framework 4 instead. Nothing underneath that looked obvious: it turns out that you then have to look under .Net Framework Core Development, and then it’s pretty clear to look under Data Access and Modeling, and then under ADO.NET, and next ADO.NET Entity Framework appears.

I’m curious if anyone else has had my problem finding EF in the table of contents. Perhaps I’m the odd one who uses the table of contents to find things.

Making Topics Discoverable

You might think I’m obsessing about trivia, but as a writer, it’s very important that readers can find what I write. We worry a lot about “discoverability”, because it affects where our topics appear in search engines.

Anyway, after not finding EF in the table of contents, I did what most people do: I typed in “Entity Framework”, and both Bing and Google showed “tutorial” as one of the possible selections, so I clicked on that.

Tutorials about Entity Framework

Bing turned up over a million hits, and Google found 186,000. The first link listed by both search engines was to this topic in MSDN: Getting Started. Clicking this link took me to an overview of the tutorial, which walks  through how to reverse-engineer an existing database into the Entity Framework. This is certainly a common customer scenario, and I’ll describe my experience with it in another post.

Another obvious scenario is creating a model from scratch. Are there other scenarios you care about?  Should there be other tutorials that address these scenarios? Is the Getting Started tutorial at the right level as an introduction to EF? Do we need other tutorials at a more advanced level?

Here are a few interesting sounding non-Microsoft search engine links. It might be good if Microsoft’s EF documentation pointed to some of them (warning: I have not walked through these yet):

ADO.NET Entity Framework Tutorial and Basics – CodeGuru
Discover an ADO.NET Entity Framework tutorial covering basic data operations for applications, including LINQ To Entities, Method Expressions, stored procedure mapping, and a …

dotConnect for MySQL Entity Framework Tutorial
Entity Framework Tutorial. This tutorial guides you through the process of creating a simple application powered by ADO.NET Entity Framework. In less than 5 minutes you will …

Creating Model Classes with the Entity Framework: The Official …
This is the C# tutorial (Switch to the Visual Basic tutorial) In this tutorial, you learn how to use ASP.NET MVC with the Microsoft Entity

There are many more tutorials out there, and you can find some videos by searching on “Entity Framework Tutorial Video”. Anyone got a favorite tutorial you think we ought to link to from MSDN? Maybe you’ve written one yourself?

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About Rick Saling

I work at Microsoft as a Senior Programmer Writer, currently documenting Entity Framework. Prior to that I did database design work for many years. Non-work interests include outdoors (hiking, scrambling, backpacking), political issues, travel, learning languages (currently working on Turkish).
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