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Access Database Editor in C#

, 1 Mar 2002
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This project presents an Access Database Editor written in C#
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Introduction

This project presents an Access Database Editor written in C#. The solution consists of two projects One of which the GenericOLEDB dll provides the access to the database through using the Ole Db classes available in C#. As the title suggests the dll code is completely generic and all the main database code that is specific to Access is contained in the project files that call the code. The main project and the consumer of the GenericOLEDB project contains two files the main file takes care of the specific creation and opening of the database as well as the database operations where there is no further information required, and the second file presents and editor that allows the editing of a row of data for insertions or deletions.

This article will have the following format. At first the details of the code will be presented, starting with the GenericOLEDB project and the OLE DB code and then move on to the control code for the demo touching on how the grid and the list are used and how to access the data within them. The final section will take a look at the abilities and the limitations of the program.

This project was developed using Developer Studio.NET beta2 and Developer Studio.NET Professional on win2000 and XP Home

The GenericOLEDB Project

The GenericOLEDB project is a dynamic link library that contains a single C# class. This class is a wrapper class that contains the OLE DB functionality for the program. The aim of the class is to generically provide a reusable database interface that can be used whatever database technology is required. For this reason the class is created by hand and not generated through the Developer Studio Seven Wizards.

The class is written to follow the same development format as the wizard would generate if it was used. This means that the access technique is to use a OleDbDataAdapter as the main bridge to the database and four OleDbCommand objects that all use the same OleDbConnection object to talk to the database

This follows the same set up as the wizard generated code in that the adapter has a command variable for the update, insert, delete and select commands, these are set in the code through,

oleDbDataAdapter.DeleteCommand = oleDbDeleteCommand; 
oleDbDataAdapter.InsertCommand = oleDbInsertCommand; 
oleDbDataAdapter.SelectCommand = oleDbSelectCommand; 
oleDbDataAdapter.UpdateCommand = oleDbUpdateCommand; 

Once the commands are set on the OleDbDataAdapter the Connection is set on the commands.

oleDbSelectCommand.Connection = oleDbConnection; 
oleDbDeleteCommand.Connection = oleDbConnection; 
oleDbUpdateCommand.Connection = oleDbConnection; 
oleDbInsertCommand.Connection = oleDbConnection; 

The main code within the GenericOLEDB dll is the ExecuteCommand function which executes the currently selected command. The command is selected within the dll by keeping track of the last set command string which it takes as being the command that is required to be executed. If the command to be executed is a select command the function simply returns true as the main part of the command will be executed when the GetReader function is called which calls the ExecuteReader function on the select command regardless of which operation is called.

Transactions

This brings us to the part of the ExecuteCommand function that requires the database to be directly updated. This is required for the insert, delete and the update commands. A transaction is simply a way of locking off a section of the database so that a write or delete operation can be performed without corrupting the database integrity. Anything trying to access the section of the database that is covered by the transaction will be blocked until the transaction is finished. A transaction is finished in one of two ways, either by performing a commit which writes the changes to the database or a rollback which resets the database back into the state it was in before the transaction started.

Transactions in C# work in a top down manner first you must get the transaction from the OleDbConnection which is the top level

/// get the transaction object from the connection 
OleDbTransaction trans = oleDbConnection.BeginTransaction(); 

This is then the parent transaction that allows us to create a child transaction for the specific command. This is done by calling the OleDbTransaction begin function. In this case we'll use the DeleteCommand.

case COMMAND.DELETE: oleDbDeleteCommand.Transaction = trans.Begin(); break; 

As you can see from the above each OleDbCommand Object contains a Transaction member that must be connected to the same OleDbConnection as the OleDbCommand Object. If this is not the case an exception will be thrown and database operations will not work as expected.

Once the command is executed using the OleDbCommand::ExecuteNonQuery function which is used to execute commands that do not return a set of records. If the ExecuteNonQuery function succeeds the transaction can be committed to the database.

case COMMAND.DELETE: oleDbDeleteCommand.Transaction.Commit(); break; 
		

If however the ExecuteNonQuery function fails then the transaction will need to be rolled back to its previous state.

case COMMAND.DELETE: oleDbDeleteCommand.Transaction.Rollback(); break; 

The success or failure of the ExecuteNonQuery function is checked by the value that it returns. A positive value indicates that it has carried out the operation on the database successfully, while a negative value or and exception indicates a failure to carry out the operation on the database. Once the child transaction has committed or rolled back the operation on the database the same action must be carried out on the parent or the OleDbConnection object.

The CSHARPOLEDB3 Project

The main file for the project is the Form1.cs file that controls the data entry and the responses and binds the project to Access type databases. The original values for the access database are hard coded in the constructor for the form class

textBox1.Text = "Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0"; 
textBox2.Text = "Admin"; textBox3.Text = ""; 
Mode = "ReadWrite"; 

OpenFileDialog

These are the default settings for an access database with only the path to the database file needing to be added through the browse button, that initialises an OpenFileDialog that is entered into the project from the toolbox and then initialised in the code.

	openFileDialog1.InitialDirectory = Directory.GetCurrentDirectory(); 
	openFileDialog1.Filter = "Access Files ( *.mdb )| *.mdb"; 
	openFileDialog1.FilterIndex = 1; 
	if( openFileDialog1.ShowDialog() == DialogResult.OK ) 
	{ 
		DatabaseName = openFileDialog1.FileName; 
		textBox4.Text = DatabaseName; 
	} 

As you can see there are operations to be performed before using the OpenFileDialog. The InitialDirectory member is set to the current directory by using the static Directory.GetCurrentDirectory function. Then the filter is set to access type files. This is done through the use of a string that is divided into two parts by the "|". The first part is the description of the file that is to be opened and the second part is the string that is used to look through the directory files, in this case "*.mdb". Because an OpenFileDialog does not actually open the file it can point to as many different file types as are required, which is why the FilterIndex property needs to be set to the required filter before the dialog is displayed.

Once this is done the dialog can be displayed and it controls all the necessary path finding to the database that will be selected. As long as the user finds the file and presses the OK button everything will be fine as the OpenFileDialog will return a value of DialogResult.OK. All that is then left to do is store the OpenFileDialog FileName property which will return the full path and name of the file.

The Select button then brings up a dialog that has two edit fields the first is the fields that you want to select from the table. This is set by default to "*" which will return all the fields from the selected table. The second edit field is the space to type in the name of the required table. This is a normal edit field and the user must know the name of the one of the database tables in the field. This is a requirement of the program although one idea for an improvement would be to get the data from the database parameters and display a list of the tables that are in the database at this point.

When the right database has been selected the "Open Database " button is pressed which creates an gets the parameters from the appropriate boxes before creating a GenericOLEDB object and calling open with the parameters.

dbAccess = new GenericOLEDBClass(); 
dbAccess.Open( Provider, UserID, Password, DatabaseName, Mode ); 

The Select Command is then set up using the table that was entered in to the select dialog. The Command is the executed by calling dbAccess.ExecuteCommand, Although as this is the first command that is a generated the function will just return true at this point. The select function isn't called until the dbAccess.ExecuteReader function is called in the DisplayList function is called with the dbAccess.Reader variable used as a parameter.

Displaying Data in the ListBox

The DisplayList function does exactly what it says on the box, it clears the listbox of any current data and then sets up a number of columns depending on the field count that is returned by the reader.

/// build the headers first
for( int i=0; i<nCount; i++ )
{
	ColumnHeader header = new ColumnHeader();
	header.Width = 100;
	header.Text = reader.GetName( i );
	listView1.Columns.Add( header );

	/// Store the header names in a collection
	stringCol.Add( reader.GetName( i ) );
} 

When the columns ave been created all that remains for the code to do is add the data to the list.

/// now add the data
ListViewItem lvItem = new ListViewItem();

while( reader.Read() == true )
{
	lvItem = listView1.Items.Add( reader.GetValue( 0 ).ToString() );
	for( int i=1; i<nCount; i++ )
	{
		lvItem.SubItems.Add( reader.GetValue( i ).ToString() );
	}
}

The data is entered into the table by creating a new ListViewItem which as the name suggests controls the data and the display properties for an item that is displayed within the Listbox. As you can see from the above code though the actual use of a ListViewItem is a little more complicated in that the ListViewItem for a row should be thought of as being the first cell of the row, as well as being the container from which all the other cells of the row are accessible. This is done through the SubItems member of the ListViewItem class that is of the type

ListViewItem.ListViewSubItemCollection

We'll look at getting the data back out of a list view next but first we have to know how to put it into the list. The Initial value in the first cell of the list is added by calling ListView1.Items.Add with the required parameters. The ListViewItem.Item member is a ListViewItemCollection that holds all the cells for the row. The Add function creates and returns the ListViewItem for the row that in turn holds the subitem collection that holds the rest of the cells in the row. Which means that the actual row is created by first of all adding a ListViewItem to the view and then by adding the rest of the cells for each of the columns to the ListViewItem.SubItem member.

Getting Data from the ListBox

Once the data is added to the list box it is required that we get it back out again so that the database can be updated. The following code comes from the OnDelete function.

ListView.SelectedListViewItemCollection col = listView1.SelectedItems;

IEnumerator colEnum = col.GetEnumerator();

/// move to the first and only
colEnum.MoveNext();

/// get the list view item
ListViewItem item = ( ListViewItem )colEnum.Current;

/// get the collection of subitems
ListViewItem.ListViewSubItemCollection subItemsCol = item.SubItems;

IEnumerator subEnum = subItemsCol.GetEnumerator();
StringEnumerator stringEnum = stringCol.GetEnumerator();

/// build sql code string removed

bool bFirst = true;

OleDbDataReader reader = dbAccess.GetReader;
reader.Read();
int nColumn = 0;
string strType;

while( subEnum.MoveNext() == true && stringEnum.MoveNext() == true )
{
		
	ListViewItem.ListViewSubItem subItem = 
	          ( ListViewItem.ListViewSubItem )subEnum.Current;
	strType = reader.GetDataTypeName( nColumn++ );
		
	/// build sql string code removed
}
		

The code starts by getting the selected items in the list view. In this code the ListBox is set for single selection so that there will only ever be one. The selected items are returned to a ListView.SelectedListViewItemCollection which we are going to need to be able to traverse in some form or another. The way to do this is to use the GetEnumerator function that from appearances comes with all instances of a collection class. The GetEnumerator function is inherited from the IEnumerable interface so as long as a collection inherits from this interface the GetEnumerator function will be present.

Whenever, the GetEnumerator function is called it returns an IEnumerator object that is positioned before the start of the whatever type of object it is that is being enumerated. This is why the IEnumerator.MoveNext function must be called before anything can be done with the objects that are being enumerated. The IEnumerator interface has only three functions these are MoveNext which moves to the next object in the enumeration, Reset which sets the enumerator back to just before the first object in the enumeration and Current which returns the object being enumerated. The call to IEnumerator.Current must be cast to the object of the type that is being enumerated.

ListViewItem item = ( ListViewItem )colEnum.Current;

Once the ListViewItem has been extracted from the collection we can then get the SubItems from the ListViewItem by getting the ListViewItem.ListViewSubItemCollection from the ListViewItem.SubItem member. Each SubItem in the collection is itself a ListViewSubItem which means that as we cycle through the subitems getting each piece of cell data from the ListViewSubItemCollection.Current member, the SQL statement can be built using the StringEnumerator for the string collection that contains the column headings for the ListBox and the value for each cell can be returned using the ListViewSubItem.Text member variable.

The Edit Box Dialog

Insert and update commands are accessed through the EditBox Dialog this is a simple box that allows the editing and inserting of a single line of code. The EditBox is called using its constructor that takes four arguments the first is the IWin32Window interface that is used as the parent of the dialogbox once ShowDialog is called. The second parameter is the current OleDbDataReader, The third is the name of the table that the update or insert command will be carried out on and the final parameter is a bool value bInsert which indicates if the EditBox is being used to insert or update a record in the table.

Displaying Data in a DataGrid

As with the ListBox the DataGrid is created at runtime, only this time the information is taken directly from the OleDbDataReader that is passed to the constructor as a parameter. In the case of the EditBox being used for the inserting of a new record just the column information is taken from the reader. But in the case of the EditBox being used to edit an existing record the EditBox gets the row information from the reader as well.

Because we are setting up the DataGrid on the fly we need to create a new DataSet and a new DataTable. The DataSet is effectively a database object that we are creating. It will work as a container that holds the information that will be displayed in the DataGrid. Although in this example we are only using the one DataTable we could include any number of DataTables within the DataSet.

As with displaying data in the ListBox we start by building the set of columns that are required for the table.

DataColumn dataCol = dataTable.Columns.Add( reader.GetName( i ), reader.GetFieldType( i ) );
if( reader.GetSchemaTable() != null )
{
	DataTable tempTable = reader.GetSchemaTable();

	DataColumnCollection colCollect = tempTable.Columns;

	IEnumerator colEnum = colCollect.GetEnumerator();

	colEnum.MoveNext();
	for( int count=0; count<i; count++ )
	{
		colEnum.MoveNext();
	}

	DataColumn tempCol = ( DataColumn )colEnum.Current;

	if( tempCol.Unique == true )
	{
		dataCol.Unique = true;
	}
	/// this is technically incorrect AutoIncrement fields
	/// are being returned with this as false
	if( tempCol.AutoIncrement == true )
	{
		dataCol.ReadOnly = true;
		dataCol.AutoIncrement = true;
	}
	
	dataCol.MaxLength = tempCol.MaxLength;

}		

First of all the Column is added to the DataTable object by calling the DataTable.Columns.Add function on the DataTable. This creates the column on the table and returns the DataColumn object so that we specify further options on it. We then check that the reader will return a valid SchemaTable when we call it as if the call to OleDbDataReader.GetSchemaTable returns a null value then we can't to anything with it. Once we've asserted that the Schema Table is valid we call the OleDbDataReader.GetSchemaTable function again and store the result in a DataTable object. From the DataTable object the columns can be extracted from the Columns member and stored into a DataColumnCollection object. The DataColumnCollection is used in the same way as the other collections in that an IEnumerator interace is made equal to the return value of the IEnumerator.GetEnumerator function. The enumerator is then moved through the columns until it is equal with the column number that we require. We then test the column for various properties.

It should be noted here that the original idea for this was that the test for the DataColumn.AutoIncrement doesn't work the way I expected is that it is always false even when the column is actually an autoincrement column. I thought the way around this would be to check the value by which the autoincrement column is updated. This didn't work either as if there is an autoincrement value all columns contain the amount by which the autoincrement column is updated. This is the reason why the demo project specifies that the user manually indicates which fields are to be ignored for an edit or insert as the code isn't able to correctly determine which fields if any should automatically be disqualified from the sql statement.

This gives us a set of columns but so far no data. The way to add data is slightly odd in that it breaks with the get an enumerator and cycle through it routine and returns to a more traditional, at least from a C++ perspective, idea of get an array and fill out the values.

/// add only one row to the table
DataRow dataRow = dataTable.NewRow();

if( bInsert == false )
{
	object[] itemArray = dataRow.ItemArray;
	for( int i=0; i<nCount; i++ )
	{
		itemArray[ i ] = reader.GetValue( i ).ToString();
	}

	dataRow.ItemArray = itemArray;
}		

The above code shows how the EditBox adds data into the row so that it can be displayed in the DataGrid. The row is returned from the DataTable through the DataTable.NewRow function which creates a new row in the table with the correct or the same as the table schema. The information for the row is set by getting the ItemArray from the DataTable and cycling through the returned array filling each item with strings from the reader. The final line makes sure that the DataRow.ItemArray holds the data that we want in it.

The saving of the data once it has been edited is the same no matter if there is an edit or an insert going on and is exactly the reverse in that we drill down to the ItemArray and then copy the data out of the array using the returned values to build up an sql string.

Using The Database Editor

The Editor has one major flaw when it comes to editing all databases and this is where the database itself, be it Access or any other database maintains a relationship between two or more tables. One example of this is the Microsoft sample database Nwind.mdb. If you open this database and select the Suppliers table the editor will display the data as normal and as long as you exclude the SupplierID field it is possible to edit and insert fields into the table. The problem arises when a delete operation is attempted this will throw an exception that says "The record cannot be deleted or changed because the table 'Products' includes related records." The reason for this error is that the database itself is maintaining the relationship rather than it being a purely logical or relational relationship.

Another area for improvement is the way in which the editor deals with types at the moment only support for basic types is included and to be honest the sample database uses strings only to represent the data which will mean that if the Editor is used to access database tables which include different data types then there will need to be some code modifications.

Conclusion

The GenericOLEDB should allow access to any access database using the code provided and as it is a seperate dll it will be easy to use it to access other databases. the may require a slight change to the connection string within the GenericOLEDB dll but that should be the end of it. The remaining code shows how to use the dll to deal with Access databases, although most of the provided code should be reusable for any database type as the majority of the code is dealing with the reader and is not concerned with database types.

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Anthony Roach
Web Developer
United Kingdom United Kingdom
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Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionReferencing issue with GenericOLEDB class to another project. PinmemberMember 944737924-Sep-12 1:00 
GeneralError Pinmemberreds-0518-Nov-07 22:30 
GeneralRe: Error Pinmemberreds-0518-Nov-07 22:38 
GeneralWhy password does not work Pinmembershacharbu19-Mar-06 5:02 
GeneralRe: Why password does not work PinmemberHimmett15-Jun-06 12:10 
GeneralRe: Why password does not work [modified] PinmemberRobinBlood17-Oct-06 4:05 
QuestionHandling OLE PinmemberobjManager1-Mar-06 11:54 
GeneralGenericOleDB class in C++/CLI PinmemberSaksida Bojan19-Jan-06 23:05 
GeneralFix PinmemberVan Kenner13-Mar-05 9:56 
GeneralUpdate doesn't work... Pinsussmachina66627-Feb-03 1:04 
GeneralRe: Update doesn't work... Pinsusspgoran28-Sep-04 3:57 
GeneralRe: Update doesn't work... Pinmembersanong5-Aug-07 23:48 
GeneralAll comments are good and valid PinmemberAdam Mendoza18-Feb-03 15:59 
GeneralRe: I have to agree PinmemberRomanNY16-Apr-02 11:51 
GeneralRe: I have to agree Pinmember¤ Muammar ¤24-Nov-06 21:01 
GeneralRe: I have to agree PinmemberBraulio Díez27-Jun-03 6:03 
GeneralRe: I have to agree PinmemberIsta12-Aug-03 12:04 
GeneralRe: I have to agree Pinmemberchrish2023-Sep-06 12:01 

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