ADO.NET Enity Framework Vote of No Confidence

Over the past year or two, I've been a casual observer into the Entity Framework coming out of Microsoft. Being an ALT.NET guy, the world tends to revolve around NHibernate for me so I've already got an excellent OR/M tool in my toolset. One of the big issues with EF that we've recognized is the general direction Microsoft has taken with it, following a data centric model rather than an object one. One of the first principles I picked up when I started doing OO programming (back in the SmallTalk days in the 80s) was that objects are defined by behavior, not their properties. Yes it's true that objects are pretty thin without data, but data is not my centre of the universe.

What we see on the horizon is a new breed of VB6 drag-n-drop programmers embracing EF as the next Messiah. We see a new generation of developers focused on mapping their data models and missing the target of architecting and constructing well designed systems. As a result, the community has put together an open letter to Microsoft outlining these concerns. The letter outlines the deficiencies in the EF specifically related to the values we see as solid working practices. It's late to the game and Microsoft probably isn't going to make any sweeping changes so close to the release so don't expect any big short-term changes however as Dave Laribee says, it's good to be explicit and professional about criticisms so this is one of those.

What's interesting too is that Microsoft has put tgoether what they call the Data Programmability Advisory Council, a team of notable people including Eric Evans, Martin Fowler, and Jimmy Nilsson (all very non-data centric guys in their own right). I'm not quite sure what they will do or how they fit into the entire fray but it might be a step in the right direction (whatever that direction may be).

You can view the entire letter here where you can sign at the bottom to show your support and you can view the list of signatories here.


  • I think that if you're going to throw out references like "...SmallTalk days in the 80s..." you have to be wearing suspenders, and have a largely, curly grey beard. I will be eager to see your new image make over, sometime soon.

  • The advisory council is a good move I think, hopefully Evans/Fowler and the rest will be able to change the way the EF team are viewing the world.

  • What I miss in the letter are some references to the claims made. Stating a lot of things in a single letter and call it professional critizism isn't going to fly: everybody can claim XYZ isn't in line with 'best practises' or 'violates this or that'.

    There are numerous reasons to ditch the entity framework. I don't see any of these reasons in the letter, on the contrary, it contains the same old set of points which are pulled out of thin air: nowhere is a reference to solid proof that without these points a software project is doomed to fail.

    Stick to the weaknesses of the EF, so users will learn about them and learn that the EF isn't the solid framework it is claimed to be by MS. I give you one to start with:
    enterprise applications typically have over 300-400 entities in their system. Have fun with that and the EF designer.

    It's a bit of a let-down, this letter. I also wonder why the people who signed it care so much.

  • There are other architectures out there. Why a letter for change? If I don't like the produce section at Kroger then I go to Marsh? It's like Microsoft is the government and we're totally reliant upon thier next handout ...

  • This really isn't an attempt to be petty, but any letter that's being written on behalf of "the community" to Microsoft probably ought to be proofread for grammar. There appear to be a lot of missing articles in the text, which leads me to believe that a single voice is not compiling the final letter. This often happens when switching between "outline" and "sentence" form. And as a previous commenter indicated, references via hyperlinks or a reference list for the claims would be a good idea.

  • Those are the complaints?

  • I agree with Frans, I don't see the point ... EF may not (yet?) be the best tool out there for Enterprise DDD, but it's a first step in that direction, just a first building block.
    Also, let's focus on other parts of DDD, than just ORM.

  • Damn kids and their MTV.. In my day...

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