Contents tagged with Pitfalls

  • Entity Framework Pitfalls – Registering Custom Database Functions for LINQ

    Like I said in my previous post, it’s not enough to add a DbFunctionAttribute attribute to a method to have it call a database function. If the function is not a built-in one, it will not be registered in the Entity Framework provider manifest for SQL Server, so it will require registration in the model. You might think, just by looking at the methods in SqlFunctions that all that it took was to add this attribute, but you would be wrong.


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: Refreshing Manually Created Entities Does Not Bring Lazy Properties of Base Types

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    Suppose you have some properties of an entity, including its id, and you want to refresh its state from the database:

       1: var product = new Product { ProductId = 1 };
       3: //product.Image is null
       5: session.Refresh(product);
       7: //product.Image is null

    Image is a Byte[] and is configured as lazy. The problem is that NHibernate is not capable of returning a proxy for it, because the entity itself is not a proxy.

    This does not happen for associated entities (one-to-one, many-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many):

       1: var order = new Order { OrderId = 1 };
       3: //order.Customer is null
       5: session.Refresh(order);
       7: //order.Customer is a proxy and accessing the property will load it

    In this case, Customer is another entity, and NHibernate can assign the Order.Customer property a proxy to it.

    Because of this problem, I created a simple extension method that loads all properties. It is even smart enough to use proxies, if we so require it:

       1: public static void InitializeLazyProperties(this ISession session, Object entity, Boolean useProxyWhenPossible = true)
       2: {
       3:     if (entity.IsProxy() == true)
       4:     {
       5:         //if entity is a proxy, use the default mechanism
       6:         NHibernateUtil.Initialize(entity);
       7:     }
       8:     else
       9:     {
      10:         var metadata = session.SessionFactory.GetClassMetadata(entity.GetType());
      11:         var propertiesToLoad = new List<String>();
      13:         for (var i = 0; i < metadata.PropertyNames.Length; ++i)
      14:         {
      15:             if (metadata.GetPropertyValue(entity, metadata.PropertyNames[i], session.ActiveEntityMode) == null)
      16:             {
      17:                 if ((metadata.PropertyTypes[i].IsEntityType == false) || (useProxyWhenPossible == false))
      18:                 {
      19:                     //either load the value
      20:                     propertiesToLoad.Add(metadata.PropertyNames[i]);
      21:                 }
      22:                 else
      23:                 {
      24:                     //or the id of the associated entity
      25:                     propertiesToLoad.Add(String.Concat(metadata.PropertyNames[i], ".id"));
      26:                 }
      27:             }
      28:         }
      30:         var hql = new StringBuilder();
      31:         hql.Append("select ");
      32:         hql.Append(String.Join(", ", propertiesToLoad));
      33:         hql.AppendFormat(" from {0} where id = :id", entity.GetType());
      35:         var query = session.CreateQuery(hql.ToString());
      36:         query.SetParameter("id", metadata.GetIdentifier(entity, session.ActiveEntityMode));
      38:         var result = query.UniqueResult();
      39:         var values = result as Object[] ?? new Object[] { result };
      41:         for (var i = 0; i < propertiesToLoad.Count; ++i)
      42:         {
      43:             var parts = propertiesToLoad[i].Split('.');
      44:             var value = values[i];
      45:             var propertyName = parts.First();
      47:             if (parts.Length > 0)
      48:             {
      49:                 var propertyIndex = Array.IndexOf(metadata.PropertyNames, propertyName);
      50:                 var propertyType = metadata.PropertyTypes[propertyIndex].ReturnedClass;
      52:                 //create a proxy
      53:                 value = session.Load(propertyType, values[i]);
      54:             }
      56:             metadata.SetPropertyValue(entity, propertyName, value, session.ActiveEntityMode);
      57:         }
      58:     }
      59: }

    Of course, it requires that at leat the id property is set. It can be used as:

       1: var order = new Order { OrderId = 360448 };
       3: session.InitializeLazyProperties(order);

    Have fun! Winking smile


  • Entity Framework Pitfalls – Batch Modifications

    Entity Framework does not support batch modifications, that is, UPDATEs or DELETEs of several entities at once. Neither classic nor Code First, not even Entity-SQL.

    For UPDATEs, you have to load each entity and modify it to your liking and then save changes.

    For DELETEs, you don’t need to load an entity, just call Remove with a proxy entity with an assigned primary key property, like this:

       1: var entityToDelete = new MyEntity { Id = 100 };
       2: ctx.MyEntities.Remove(entityToDelete);
       3: ctx.SaveChanges();

    Of course, you can remove several entities at once, just make sure you only call SaveChanges only after Removeing all of them.

    Other alternatives exist:

    1. Plain old SQL, just call Database.ExecuteSqlCommand;
    2. Use a third-party library, such as EntityFramework.Extended, which offers nice strongly-typed methods for both UPDATEs and DELETEs.


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: Specifying Property Types

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    When you want to specify an NHibernate type (implementation of NHibernate.Type.IType) for a property using mapping by code, you might be tempted to do something like this:

       1: ca.Property(x => x.SomeProperty, x =>
       2: {
       3:     x.Type<StringClobType>();
       4: });

    If you try this, you will get a nasty exception about the type not having a public parameterless constructor. Ouch!

    The thing is: NHibernate types are supposed to be stateless, and therefore it does not make sense to have several instances of a type, that is why NHibernate encourages us to use the static fields defined in the NHibernateUtil class and that is also why most of the built-in types don’t have a public parameterless constructor.

    So, if you want to implement your own types, you can certainly add a public parameterless constructor to them and use the above syntax, but if you are going to use the built-in types, you should instead use:

       1: ca.Property(x => x.SomeProperty, x =>
       2: {
       3:     x.Type(NHibernateUtil.StringClob);
       4: });


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: One Shot Delete and Inverse Collections

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    When you clear all items in an entity’s collection by calling it’s Clear() method, if it has cascading option all-delete-orphan, NHibernate will then delete (when flushing) all of the collection’s items. That is because it considers them to be children of the entity and we explicitly told NHibernate that the entity no longer has any (very sad, I know! Winking smile).

    Ideally, we would expect NHibernate to only issue a single DELETE, as this:

       1: DELETE FROM children
       2: WHERE parent_id = @p0
       3: /*
       4: AND some_filter_value = @p1
       5: */

    That, however, is not the case for inverse collections, which are the most common ones. In this case, NHibernate issues N DELETEs, one for each entity, which is bad in terms of performance:

       1: DELETE FROM children
       2: WHERE children_id = @p0;
       4: DELETE FROM children
       5: WHERE children_id = @p1;
       7: -- and so on

    The NHibernate reference has an incorrection, in which it states exactly the opposite:

    “one-shot-delete apply to collections mapped inverse="true"”

    There is an open issue at NHibernate JIRA meant to fix this,, but it is not so simple, so we’ll have to wait! Sad smile

    In the meantime, even though it’s not so intuitive, you can use one of the delete methods I describe in this post.


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: Deletes

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    While I was writing Deleting Entities in NHibernate, I noticed that actually it referred some pitfalls concerning deleting, so I decided to add them to the proper collection.

    There are several ways to delete entities in NHibernate, as you can see in the referenced post. The problems with each approach are:

    • Using Executable HQL: no cascade to related associations occurs, no events are raised;
    • Using Delete with an entity proxy: forces loading of all cascaded lazy associations before deleting; requires a Flush to apply changes (if it needs to be explicit or not depends on you flush settings);
    • Using Delete with a query string: all items are loaded into the session (not a single DELETE statement), no cascade occurs, no events are raised, no notification about the number of affected records and also requires a flush.


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: Get and Filters

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    This was suggested a long time ago by Kelly Brownsberger (@kbrowns). What happens is, even if you have filters defined, they are not applied on a call to ISession.Get<T>(). This is by design: you are explicitly asking for an entity with some id, so NHibernate just returns you that. On the other hand, static where restrictions defined at the entity level still apply.


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: Criteria and Collections of Non-Entities

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    Criteria API – and QueryOver, for that matter, which is just a strongly-typed wrapper around Criteria – cannot work with collections of non-entities: elements, components or dictionaries. If you need to work with those, you need to use one of the other APIs – LINQ, HQL or SQL.


  • Entity Framework Pitfalls – Date/Time Operations

    When using Entity Framework, you cannot perform date/time operations as you would normally do in .NET/LINQ to Objects. For instance, the following query throws an exception:

       1: ctx.Projects.Select(x => new { ElapsedTime = DateTime.Now - x.Start }).ToList();

    Instead, you need to use the static methods in SqlFunctions, like DateDiff:

       1: ctx.Projects.Select(x => new { ElapsedTime = SqlFunctions.DateDiff("HOUR", x.Start, DateTime.Now) }).ToList();

    For a full description of DateDiff’s first parameter, refer to

    If you want to achieve the same result, that is, return a TimeSpan, you need to use LINQ to Objects at the end:

       1: ctx.Projects.Select(x => new { ElapsedTime = SqlFunctions.DateDiff("HOUR", x.Start, DateTime.Now) }).ToList().Select(x => new { ElapsedTime = TimeSpan.FromHours((Double)x.ElapsedTime) }).ToList();


  • NHibernate Pitfalls: XML Mappings

    This is part of a series of posts about NHibernate Pitfalls. See the entire collection here.

    If you are still using XML mappings – .hbm.xml files –, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you may run into problems.

    First, you will need to add these files as embedded resources in your project, if you are calling Configuration.AddAssembly(), Configuration.AddClass() or you are specifying the name of the assembly in the .config file like this:

       1: <hibernate-configuration xmlns="urn:nhibernate-configuration-2.2">
       2:     <session-factory>
       3:         <property name="connection.driver_class">NHibernate.Driver.Sql2008ClientDriver</property>
       4:         <property name="dialect">NHibernate.Dialect.MsSql2008Dialect</property>
       5:         <property name="connection.connection_string_name">MyConnection</property>
       6:         <mapping assembly="MyAssembly.MyModel" />
       7:     </session-factory>
       8: </hibernate-configuration>

    These methods will look for .hbm.xml files as embedded resources in that assembly:


    Alternatively, you can have the files on the filesystem, but you will have to call Configuration.AddDirectory(), Configuration.AddFile() or Configuration.AddInputStream(), passing the appropriate parameters.

    In either case, the name of each .hbm.xml must end with .hbm.xml (of course!) and must be composed of the name of the associated class including its namespace.

    If you don’t do this, NHibernate will not find your mappings, which will result in runtime errors.