Database Applications in C#
See the next slide for sample form
elements (C# application), from the
CPackers demo program.
text boxes
radio buttons
(in a Group
Unbound Listbox
Bound Listbox
Data grid
During the next few weeks you will learn
how to use Visual Studio’s Visual C# to
access a database through an interface
standard called ADO.NET.
You will be able to download two
different C# projects from the course
web site, each of which interfaces
with a SQL Server database.
The first (CPackers) contains a simple
form, which interfaces with a single
table and contains options to find and
list players according to several
different constraints.
The second (CUniversity) is a
multiform project that simulates
typical actions performed by a
university registrar. These actions
include displaying, editing, adding,
and deleting student records; adding
or dropping courses; listing student
schedules; and listing course rosters.
The slides that follow provide general
instructions in how build a C# solution
and connect to a database using
ADO.NET controls.
You should supplement these instructions
with the Visual Studio solutions available
through the course’s web page at
There are also two books on reserve you
can consult.
Creating a C# program
You should run all of your C# programs
from the network share described in a
previous email.
Both you and I have access to it.
This is useful if you need help since I can
access your program directly.
It is also how I will grade your final
To create the proper network share:
Right click on computer in your program
menu and select Map network drive
Choose drive letter N.
In the Folder textbox enter
Click the Finish button.
You will see a list of folders. Any programs
for this course should be stored in the folder
having your name.
Start C# (Start  Programs  Microsoft
Visual Studio 2010 Microsoft Visual
Studio 2010).
You can close the Start page.
Select File  New  Project.
In the left pane (under Installed
Templates) select Visual C#  Windows.
In the middle pane select Windows Forms
Select the folder to contain your solution.
Again, this should correspond to your
folder on the network share.
Press the Select Folder button
Give the project a name
Do NOT check the box associated with
Create directory for solution. It is not
necessary for this course and just creates
another level of subfolders.
Click OK.
When you create a project for the first
time, a form (form1) automatically
You can save it using any other name you
wish as follows:
Right click on the form and select properties.
You will see a properties window appear to
the right.
Through this window you can change the
name and text attributes of the form along
with many other things.
Just locate the entry identified by (Name)
and enter whatever name you want your
form to have.
I usually start all form names with “frm…”
to easily identify what identifiers correspond
to forms.
There’s a similar entry in the properties
window identified by Text. Whatever you
enter appears at the top of the form when the
program runs.
Then select File Save …as and specify the
name of the form to save the changes to the
You can use the same form name
You can then remove files corresponding to
the old form name.
IMPORTANT: You should do this BEFORE
proceeding with any coding on that form!
Adding gui elements to your form
Select View  Toolbox to get items that
you can drag to the form
Expand All Windows Forms to see your
Drag and drop items onto the form as
After you drag a gui element to the
window, you can right click on it and
select Properties.
This allows you to easily change
properties, including the element name.
IMPORTANT: You should name ALL
elements appropriately BEFORE moving
ahead with any of your own coding.
You can double click on the form to see
the code associated with the form and
create a form_load method.
This code will be executed each time the
form is loaded.
This is useful if you need information in
the form when the program first runs.
You can return to viewing the form in
design view by selecting the Design
tab at the top of the window.
Most of the code you write will be
associated with button clicks.
To do this:
Drag and drop a button to your form.
Give it a name through the properties
Double click on the button to create an
onclick method for it.
Enter code as needed.
Create a textbox (name it txtCount) and a
button (name it btnCount).
Insert the following into the form_load
txtCount.Text = “20”;
Insert the following into the button click
int temp;
temp = Int32.Parse(txtCount.Text);
txtCount.Text = temp.ToString();
Run the program (F5 key) and press
the button to increment the count.
To open an existing C# project, double
click on the sln file in the project folder.
NOTE: To see file extensions you may
need to do the following:
With your folder open choose Organize 
Folder and search options.
Select the view tab.
Uncheck the box associated with Hide
extensions for known file types.
If, after opening a solution, the form or
code does not appear, open the solutions
explorer via View  Solution Explorer.
A window appears identifying forms in
the solution. You can double click on one
or select view  code to see its code.
To define where form appears, select the
StartPosition form property and set to
manual. Then set the location properties
to define where the form appears.
You can experiment to understand the
Interface standards for database access
It’s important to note that these notes
describe only one way to access a
database. There are numerous other ways,
but we will NOT cover them. Once you
understand one set of standards, the
others become much more accessible.
ODBC (Open Database Connectivity
Defines interface standards through
which SQL commands and results can be
sent and received.
Historically, this helped make database
processing independent of the data source
(e.g databases such as Oracle, Access,
SQL server, etc. -- or even spreadsheets).
See Figures 11-1 and 11-2 on pages 429
and 431.
Will not discuss ODBC architecture
OLE DB (Object Linking and
ODBC was designed for table-like
sources (limitation).
Developed by Microsoft OLE DB
provides a standardized object-oriented
interface to a wider variety of data
sources (such as spreadsheets, databases,
ISAM and VSAM files, and nonrelational
Encapsulates the features and
functionality (i.e. updates, query
processing, index creation, etc.) of a
DBMS into OLE DB objects.
Vendors have much more flexibility. For
example, a vendor can implement
portions of a product to interact with OLE
Provides greater marketability.
Can add functionality later, allowing
Object oriented, so is particularly suited
to object oriented languages such as C#.
See Figure 11-11 on page 438.
ADO (Active Data Object).
Many database apps used scripting
languages such as VBScript.
ADO allows the use of almost any
language to access OLE BD
Built on top of the OLE DB object
model; many consider it easier to use than
See Figure 11-15 on page 442.
Improvement on ADO that was
developed as part of Microsoft’s .NET
See prose on page 442 and Figures 11-16
and 11-17 on page 443.
ADO.NET also provides the ability to
create and process client-side in-memory
databases called datasets.
A dataset can also be through of as an inmemory disconnected view of data.
Typically it is defined from a base table
or a view.
ADO.NET classes.
The C# applications in this course
interact with a SQL server database via
instances of three classes from the
toolbox: SqlConnection, SqlDataAdapter,
and DataSet.
These classes are optimized for SQL
Server databases but some of the
others (e.g. oleDbDataAdapter)
provide access to a wider variety of
data sources.
There are other ways.
For course goals, there’s really little
difference in the coding.
SqlConnection Class
Allows the application to establish a
connection to a remote database.
It contains properties that define the
database provider, server name, database
name, and other things.
SqlDataAdapter Class
Provides methods to exchange data
between the application and remote
It relies on requests being formulated in
SQL (Structured Query Language).
Our approach here is to create one data
adapter for each base table or view your
application is going to query.
DataSet Class
It’s an in-memory cache of data.
Represents the results of an SQL
command that the data adapter sends to
the DBMS through the SQLConnection
The DataSet typically represents a copy
of a database table or view.
A DataSet can hold multiple tables but
we will just use one table per DataSet.
Figure 11-17 on page 443 shows how
these classes are related.
NOTE: changes to the dataset are NOT
automatically reflected in the database!
Any changes must specifically be written
back to the database or go through a
stored procedure (discussed later).
This is typical of a disconnected model
for database activity.
Creating an SqlConnection
Create a C# app as described above.
Make the form design visible and make
sure the toolbox is also visible.
In the toolbox, expand Common Controls.
Drag and drop SqlConnection onto the
form. It will appear on the tray below the
If SqlConnection does not appear in
toolbox select Tools  Choose Toolbox
Items. Be patient, it may take some time.
Make sure the .NET Framework
Components tab is selected.
Find SqlConnection in the list and check
the box next to it. Click OK.
Right click on the connection icon and
select properties.
Give it a name (such as conTest).
From the menu associated with
ConnectionString in the properties
window, select <New Connection…>.
In the resulting window select Microsoft
SQL Server (SqlClient) as the data source.
Select ICSD for the server name.
Select the radio button Use Windows
Select the database name (e.g.
CS451_packers for the first demo).
Click the OK button.
If interested, you can examine the
connection string via the connection
Creating a data adapter
Click on SqlDadaAdapter in the toolbox
and drag and drop onto form.
If it is not in toolbox select Tools 
Choose Toolbox Items and add it as you
did the SQLConnection object previously.
When the wizard appears, do the
Specify the data connection (i.e. to which
database you want to connect). Click next.
Specify use SQL statements to indicate how the
adapter should access the database. Click next.
Enter the select command to specify what data
is loaded into the DataSet. You can also use the
query builder to create the SQL command.
Click next and then Finish.
Through the properties window, you can
rename it (example, daTest)
If querying from a view, make sure you
maintain consistency between view attribute
names and the select command. Inconsistencies
can especially occur if someone alters the view
after the data adapter is created!
NOTE: You can right click on the data adapter
icon in the tray and select preview data. In the
preview window there is a preview button that
will display the data.
NOTE: I once had problems when the
SQL command queried multiple tables. I
never followed through on this, largely
because I found it much easier (and
probably much more efficient) to first
create a view on the server side and
specify it during the connection process.
If you need data from multiple tables, I
recommend creating a view derived from
multiple tables.
Creating a DataSet:
Select the data adapter and, from the
menu, select Data  Generate DataSet.
Select the tables you want to add to the
data set and specify a data set name (i.e.,
Click OK.
NOTE: If you selected dsTest as the
dataset name, it will show in the tray
as dsTest1.
The properties will show a
dataSetName entry as dsTest and a
(Name) entry as dsTest1.
dsTest1 is the name of the dataset
and identifies the instance of a
dataset class. Your code uses this.
dsTest is just a property of the
It’s a little confusing and you can click
here for a more detailed explanation.
Bottom line is that your C# code
should use dsTest1.
NOTE: If a data set is created from a view,
check to see (double click on the dataset’s xsd
entry in the solution explorer) whether any
primary keys carried through from the original
base tables. You may have to remove the
primary key designation from the data set’s
table if the view allows the primary key to be
replicated. Right clicking on a field in the
dataset and looking at properties also allows
you to change some constraints (for example, a
not null constraint) that may have carried over
from the underlying base tables.
NOTE: Creating data sets depend on the
data adapter and creating a data adapter
depends on the underlying tables or
Changing one may necessitate a change
in others.
Proceed with caution when you make
changes after the fact!!!
Better yet, don’t make changes after the
Double click on the form and you will
see a number of Using statements at
the beginning of the code.
You need to add two more:
using System.Data.SqlClient
using System.Data.SqlTypes
You need them to access certain
classes associated with SQL. See
packers demo.
GUI elements
The toolbox contains many icons
allowing you to display headings and data
on a form.
Various properties allow you to design
the look you want by defining fonts,
colors, and positions of objects.
You need only drag and drop a toolbox
item to your form.
Some of the toolbox objects follow.
is used for headings and such. You can
play with colors and appearance by
changing the properties of a label. Right
click on the label and then select
Properties to see some options.
Typical label name is lblName
is often used for the display of a database
record’s attribute or for input to the application.
You can bind a textbox to a database record’s
attribute for display. This means it will
automatically display the contents of the current
(defined by a currencyManager object
described in the program demos) database
record’s attribute in your form.
If you change the current record then the
textbox content changes automatically.
To bind a textbox to a database
record’s attribute
Drag and drop the textbox icon onto the
form and set properties as needed.
Select (DataBindings)  text from the
Properties window.
Click on the arrow and you will see some
options that will let you select the data set
name, table name, and field name.
Choose the dataset associated with the
form name under Other Data Sources!!
Choose also the table name and attribute.
There are other options but the one above
is consistent with things I will describe
If you choose other ways to bind I can’t
guarantee your programs will perform
as described in these notes!!!
In order to actually see data within a
bound textbox you will have to fill the
To do this call the Fill method of a data
adapter object and specify the data set
name (ex: dsTest1) as an argument.
This may be done in a form_Load method
or as part of some other action.
The format of the fill command is
See the Cpackers solution for an
You can also leave the databindings field
of the textbox blank if you plan on
writing code to define those properties or
simply treat the textboxes as user inputs.
The Cpackers program shows examples
of both.
Bound text fields display player
An unbound text field allows the user to
enter a position for a “who plays” button.
If you want to navigate through records,
you will need a currencyManager object
as defined in the Cpackers program.
It’s similar to a list iterator (if you’ve
covered that) or even a subscript that
defines a current position in an array.
It must be bound to a specific dataset as
shown in the form_Load method of the
Cpackers solution.
Allows you to create C# code, which can
be activated by simply clicking on the
button which appears on the form.
To create a button for simple tasks, drag
and drop a button object on the form.
Give it an appropriate caption and name
via its properties.
To associate an action with the button,
double click on the button while in
Design view.
A new window will appear showing the
declaration for a method associated with
a button click.
For example, in the Packers database,
there is a button named btnNext. Double
click on it and a window appears showing
code for a method named
If you do this for the first time you get an
empty method (with the proper
You can then enter appropriate code.
allows you to create a popup listing of all
attribute values from a table or to show
items you specify in its properties.
The Packers Demo has one of each.
You need to modify the ComboBox
properties to do either of these. Here are
some options:
Select dropDownList from the
dropdownstyle property.
If you want to specify your own entries in
the ComboBox, click on the button next
to the Items property.
Enter what you want.
If you want the contents of table
attributes to appear, modify the
DataSource property to select the proper
DataSet (again -- associated with the
Then change the DisplayMember
property to select the proper table and
NOTE: To see the data you have to fill
the dataset as described previously.
A nice advantage of the combobox
defined in this way is that it allows the
user to locate a database record by
selecting one of the combobox values.
The located record is then established as
current and any other bound controls that
depend on the current record will update.
See Packers demo
RadioButtons and GroupBoxes
allow you to select exactly one of several
options on a form.
C# code can then examine which option
button was clicked and take action
To group radio buttons, drag and drop a
GroupBox object onto the form.
Then drag and drop RadioButton objects
into the GroupBox object.
C# code can access each button’s
Checked property which is set to True or
False, according to whether the button
has been checked.
Only one RadioButton in a GroupBox
may be checked.
allows the display of a table.
The table could be a base table, a view, or
the result of an SQL query.
Typically, the DataSource and
DataMember properties of a dataGrid
allow you to specify a data set and the
table you want to appear in the grid.
By default, all fields in the table will
appear with default headings.
You can alter the appearance of a
dataGrid and column headings by
creating a DataGridTableStyle in your C#
code and adding it to a TableStyles
Property of the grid.
The Packers demo shows an example.
can be used as a free form output box.
You can write or move any information
you want to it.
It also acts similar to an array of strings,
allowing you to reference each line of
output via a subscript.
This allows you to store information in a
listbox and later rearrange it.
For example, if lstTest is the ListBox
name then
lstTest.Items.Add(stringvariable) will add
stringvariable to the end of the ListBox.
The command
lstTest.Items.Removeat(position) will
remove the string at the indicated
A listbox can also be used in a manner
similar to that of the combobox by setting
the dataSource and displayMember
properties appropriately.
can be used to create pull-down menus.
Select MenuStrip from the toolbox and
drag it to the form.
Once the strip is on the form, it will show
a “type here” combo box that allows you
to add menu strip items.
For our purpose here, you can select
MenuItem to add tool strip menu items.
If you select MenuItem you can give it an
appropriate name and text attribute
through the properties window.
Also, if you select that item, you can then
enter (by typing) choices you want to
appear for that particular tool strip menu
item object.
If you then double click on the
appropriate tool strip menu item, Studio
creates an event handling method to
respond to that selection.
You can enter code in that method to
respond to menu selections
Displaying other than text data, such as a
photograph, can be done using a
PictureBox object.
It has methods that allow C# code to
access files (such as JPG files) and
display them in the PictureBox object.
See the Packers demo for examples.
To add a new form:
In solution Explorer right click on the
application name and select Add  Windows
Select windows forms under BOTH installed
templates and within the middle pane;
provide a name for the form.
Press the Add button
If a solution has multiple forms, one must
be designated as the startup form.
To select the startup form look for
something like Program.cs at the bottom
of the solution explorer window.
Double click on that entry to see the code.
Look for the Application.Run(…) line of
code and specify your startup form as a
parameter to the Run method.
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