What is LINQ? and why use it with SharePoint List data?
Well, LINQ stands for Language Integrated Query, and what LINQ does is add a native querying syntax reminiscent of SQL to .NET Framework programming languages.
Where to get LINQ to SharePoint?
LINQ to SharePoint is available in several forms. Next to a regular installer (MSI-package) the project’s source code is also available for download. The reason for making the code available is to help others in implementing custom LINQ query providers. In order to use LINQ to SharePoint, one needs the .NET Framework 3.5. If you want to profit from the Visual Studio 2008 integration, you should have Visual Studio 2008 Professional or higher. (see http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=7175502 to download Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2)
The installer and source for the latest release can both be found in the “Releases”-tab on http://www.codeplex.com/LINQtoSharePoint. The latest sources can be found via the “Source Code”-tab on the same web site.
To install the LINQ to SharePoint libraries, run the installer and this will automatically install the libraries and configure Visual Studio 2008. To use the library you can simply add a new LINQ to SharePoint file. You can do this by right-clicking the project, Add, New Item, selecting the LINQ to SharePoint file and clicking Add. This will automatically add a reference to the library to your project.
If you want to manually add this reference, follow these steps:
1. Add the reference to the library by clicking the “Add Reference” item on the properties menu of your project (right-click on the project node in Solution Explorer and choose Add Reference…)
2. In the .NET-tab of the Add Reference dialog, select the LINQ to SharePoint runtime library (BdsSoft.SharePoint.Linq) and click OK
3. In Solution Explorer, the library has been added to the references
4. In your project’s source code, add a using-statement using BdsSoft.SharePoint.Linq;
5. Now the library is ready to be used
Features of LINQ to SharePoint include the following:
o Custom query provider that translates LINQ queries to CAML, the Collaborative Application Markup Language used by SharePoint for querying
o Support for LINQ in C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 9.0.
o Entity creation tool SpMetal to export SharePoint list definitions to entity classes used for querying
o Visual Studio 2008 integration for entity creation (a.k.a. SPML)
o Can connect to a SharePoint site either using the SharePoint object model or via the SharePoint web services
o Planned support for updating through entity types
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