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<An Introduction to LINQ - Part 1 ⁄ >

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Most programmers today are required to integrate some sort of data into their applications. Often, you have to take data from multiple sources such as memory collections, relational databases, XML files, etc. With the current implementation of .NET Framework, getting to this data is often tedious and requires familiarity with multiple data access technologies and XML APIs. To make matters worse, all data sources have different means of querying the data in them: SQL for databases, XQuery for XML, LDAP queries for Active Directory etc. In short, today's data access story lacks a unified approach to accessing data from disparate data sources, which is exactly what the LINQ (Language INtegrated Query) family of technologies are intended to solve. In this series of article, you will understand all about LINQ including the basics of LINQ to performing data access using LINQ. The first installment of this series will focus on the basics of LINQ introducing the new features of C# 3.0 and how they can be used in conjunction with LINQ.

Introduction to LINQ

The official goal of LINQ family of technologies is to add "general purpose query facilities to the .NET Framework that apply to all sources of information, not just relational or XML data". One of the nice things about LINQ is that it integrates seamlessly with the existing .NET languages such as C#, VB.NET because the underlying LINQ API is just nothing but a set of .NET classes that operate like any other .NET class. In addition, the query functionality is not just restricted to SQL or XML data; you can apply LINQ to query any class as long as that class implements IEnumerable class.

As mentioned before, LINQ is a family of technologies that provide querying features and class patterns that DLinq and XLinq. DLinq (also referred to as LINQ to SQL) is specifically the version of LINQ that focuses on querying data from relational data sources. XLinq (LINQ to XML) is that aspect of LINQ that is geared towards querying XML data. To run the code samples supplied with this article, you need Visual Studio 2005 Professional RTM as well as LINQ May 2006 Community Technology Preview.

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