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Working With Local Databases on


Windows Phone 8
by Vivek Maskara 6 days ago 1 Comment

21 76

In the previous article, you learned how to store data in your app's isolated storage. In
this article, we focus on working with local databases that live in your app's isolated
storage. You'll learn about database operations using LINQ, database schemas as well
as how to fetch data from a local database.

1. Introduction
You can store relational data in a local database that lives in your app's isolated
storage. All database operations on Windows Phone are performed using LINQ to
SQL. It is used to define the database schema, select data, and save changes to the
underlying database file residing in the local folder.

The LINQ to SQL object model uses the System.Data.Linq.DataContext namespace to


make a proxy call to the local database. The LINQ to SQL runtime acts as a bridge
between the data context object and the real data to do manipulations.

When working with local databases on Windows Phone, it's important to keep the
following in mind:

The local database runs in the Windows Phone app's process. It does not run
continuously as a background service.
It can be accessed only by the corresponding Windows Phone app.
It can be accessed only with LINQ to SQL, Transact-SQL is not supported.
To synchronize access to the local folder across different threads, the Mutex
class is used.
It's not recommended to encrypt the reference database file if you're going to
access it exclusively from the installation folder. Doing so prevents the system
from performing routine database maintenance operations, such as re-indexing,
upon the first connection.

This article shows how you can create a local database and insert, update or delete
data from it. We will build a sample application with a User Details table and perform
various operations on it. We will segregate the code files for different operations such
as insert, update and delete for the sake of convenience.

2. Building the Data Context


The tables for the database can be defined anywhere in the app as long as it is
accessible globally. We create a separate file, DB.cs, for all the tables. In this file we

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specify an object model that determines the database schema and create the data
context.

Step 1: Adding References


Add the following directives at the top of the DB.cs file to reference LINQ to SQL
assembly:

1 using System.Data.Linq;
2 using System.Data.Linq.Mapping;

Step 2: Creating a Table


Add an entity class named User_details that represents the database table of the app
in the local database. The attribute [Table] indicates the LINQ to SQL runtime to map
the class to a local database table.

01 [Table]
02 public class User_details
03 {
04 [Column(IsDbGenerated = true, IsPrimaryKey = true)]
05 public int ID
06 {
07 get;
08 set;
09 }
10 [Column]
11 public string user_name
12 {
13 get;
14 set;
15 }
16 [Column]
17 public string user_email
18 {
19 get;
20 set;
21 }
22 }

As you can see, the User_details class has three public properties that correspond to
three database columns:

ID is an identifier column that is automatically populated by the database. It's


also the primary key for which a database index is automatically created. These
settings and more are specified with the LINQ to SQL column mapping attribute
written above the property syntax.
user_name is a column to store the name of the user.
user_email is a column to store the email address of the user.

Step 1: Defining Data Context


The class UserDataContext inherits from DataContext and is referred to as the data
context. This code calls the base constructor and declares the database table named
User_details . The local database is stored in the app's isolated storage and in our
example it is saved as Databases.sdf .

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01 public class UserDataContext : DataContext
02 {
03 public static string DBConnectionString = @"isostore:/Databases.sdf";
04 public UserDataContext(string connectionString)
05 : base(connectionString)
06 {}
07 public Table<User_details> Users
08 {
09 get
10 {
11 return this.GetTable<User_details>();
12 }
13 }
14 }

Note that the database connection string is not required to be a static field. We
use DBConnectionString in this case just for convenience.

3. Creating the Database


To create the database, open the code behind file of the app, named App.xaml.cs.
Add the following code at the end of its constructor, named App .

1 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))


2 {
3 if (!context.DatabaseExists())
4 context.CreateDatabase();
5 }

The database creation code is added here so that the database will be present before
the code from the main page runs. The code checks whether the database exists and, if
no database is found, a new one is created.

4. Database Operations
Once the data context has been built and the database has been created, we can
perform operations on it. You can insert, update, and delete records from the table we
just created. We have created separate classes to hold functions for insert, delete, and
update operations.

Step 1: Inserting Records


It's convenient to create a separate class file, DatabaseAdd.cs, for adding any records
to the database. Define a function AddUser that takes name and email_id as
parameters and adds a record to the User_details table.

01 public void AddUser(String name, String email)


02 {
03 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))
04 {
05 User_details du = new User_details();
06 du.user_name = name;
07 du.user_email = email;
08 context.Users.InsertOnSubmit(du);
09 context.SubmitChanges();
10 }
11 }

The AddUser function uses the UserDataContext data context to connect to the

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database, creates a new instance of the User_details entity class, and inserts a record.

New items that have been added to the data context are not saved to the database until
the SubmitChanges function is called. Call the AddUser function to add a record to the
database.

1 DatabaseAdd add=new DatabaseAdd();


2 add.AddUser("vivek","maskaravivek@hotmail.com");

Step 2: Fetching Records


Create a separate class file, FetchDatabase.cs, for fetching records from the
database. This class contains a GetAllUsers function that returns an IList instance,
containing the records fetched from the table.

The connection is set up using the data context after which records are fetched from
the User_details table. The LINQ query returns an IList instance containing the fetched
records. The IList instance is nothing more than a collection of objects of same type.

01 public IList<User_details> GetAllUsers()


02 {
03 IList<User_details> list = null;
04 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))
05 {
06 IQueryable<User_details> query = from c in context.Users select c;
07 list = query.ToList();
08 }
09 return list;
10 }

In the below code snippet we define a Users class with data members id , name , and
email to hold the details from the fetched records.

1 class Users
2 {
3 public string id { get; set; }
4 public string name { get; set; }
5 public string email { get; set; }
6 }

Create another function, getAllUsers , that returns a list of Users when called. The
function creates a new list to hold the details of the fetched users. It iterates through the
IList instance named usrs and adds the details of each user to the allUsers instance.

01 public List<Users> getUsers()


02 {
03 IList<User_details> usrs = this.GetAllUsers();
04 List<Users> allUsers = new List<Users>();
05 foreach (User_details m in usrs)
06 {
07 Users n = new Users();
08 n.id = m.ID.ToString();
09 n.name = m.user_name;
10 n.email = m.user_email;
11 allUsers.Add(n);
12 }
13 return allUsers;
14 }

In the sample application of this article, the getUsers function is used to set the
ItemSource of the Listbox named allusers as shown below.

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1 FetchDatabase fetch = new FetchDatabase();
2 allusers.ItemsSource = fetch.getUsers();

Step 3: Updating Records


Updating records is very similar to adding records to a table. Continuing with our
modular approach, we create a new class file, DatabaseUpdate.cs, for database
updates. Unlike delete operations, there's no function to update multiple records at
once.

Add a function UpdateUsers that accepts an id , name , and email_id , and updates the
table row for the corresponding id .

01 public void UpdateUser(int id, String email, String name)


02 {
03 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))
04 {
05 IQueryable<User_details> entityQuery = from c in context.Users where c.ID == id
06 User_details entityToUpdate = entityQuery.FirstOrDefault();
07 entityToUpdate.user_name = name;
08 entityToUpdate.user_email = email;
09 context.SubmitChanges();
10 }
11 }

The function queries the database and stores the first matched record in the
entityToUpdate variable. It then updates the record by assigning the new values and
submits the changes to update the database.

The database is not updated until we call the SubmitChanges function. This function will
update only the first matched record. The UpdateUser function is called to update
existing records in the database as shown below.

1 DatabaseUpdate update = new DatabaseUpdate();


2 update.UpdateUser(1, "maskaravivek@hotmail.com", "vivek.maskara");

To update multiple records, you'll need to iterate through the records that you'd like to
update one by one. In the following code snippet, we update the name of every use in
the database by making it lowercase.

01 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))


02 {
03 IQueryable<User_details> entityQuery = from c in context.Users select c;
04 IList<User_details> entityToUpdate = entityQuery.ToList();
05 foreach(User_details user in entityToUpdate)
06 {
07 user.user_name = user.user_name.ToLower();
08 }
09 context.SubmitChanges();
10 }

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Step 4: Deleting Records


Create a class file, DatabaseDelete.cs ,for delete operations. In the DatabaseDelete
class, add a DeleteUser function that accepts a parameter id and deletes a single
user whose id matches the passed-in parameter.

01 public void DeleteUser(String id)//delete user by id


02 {
03 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))
04 {
05 IQueryable<User_details> entityQuery = from c in context.Users where c.ID.Equals(id)
06 User_details entityToDelete = entityQuery.FirstOrDefault();
07 context.Users.DeleteOnSubmit(entityToDelete);
08 context.SubmitChanges();
09 }
10 }

The function calls DeleteOnSubmit , which deletes a single record from the database.
The changes are saved when the SubmitChanges function is called.
The DeleteUser function deletes a single record from the database as shown below.

1 DatabaseDelete delete = new DatabaseDelete();


2 delete.DeleteUser("1");

The System.Data.Linq assembly provides a function DeleteAllOnSubmit to delete


multiple records at once. The following code snippet truncates the User_details table.

1 using (UserDataContext context = new UserDataContext(UserDataContext.DBConnectionString))


2 {
3 IQueryable<User_details> entityQuery = from c in context.Users select c;
4 IList<User_details> entityToDelete = entityQuery.ToList();
5 context.Users.DeleteAllOnSubmit(entityToDelete);
6 context.SubmitChanges();
7 }

This function accepts a list of records and deletes the records in that list. Note that in
both cases the changes are saved only when the SubmitChanges function is called.

Conclusion
Windows Phone apps use LINQ to SQL for all database operations. LINQ to SQL is
used to define the database schema, select data, and, save changes to the underlying
database file residing in the app's isolated storage. LINQ to SQL provides an object-
oriented approach for working with data stored in a database and consists of an object
model and a runtime. I recommend you read this MSDN article for best practices on
using local databases. Feel free to download the tutorial's source files to use as
reference.

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Difficulty:
Beginner
Length:
Medium
Categories:
Windows Phone Windows Phone SDK C# Mobile Development Visual Studio IDEs

Translations Available:
Tuts+ tutorials are translated by our community members. If you'd like to translate this post into another language, let us know!

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About Vivek Maskara


I am pursuing BTech in Software Engineering from Delhi Technological University. I develop apps, create websites and blog about my app experiences. I enjoy
developing mobile apps, especially the ones for the Microsoft platform Windows Phone and Windows 8.1. So far Ive worked on many apps for these
platforms, on all levels as a single developer during late night hours and weekends, as a freelancer, and as a part of well-organized teams! I also am a
Microsoft Student Partner, member of Microsoft Indias App Review Board and recognized as distinguished member of Microsoft App Builders Club.
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