Entity Framework Queryable async

async-await c# entity-framework

Question

I'm working on some some Web API stuff using Entity Framework 6 and one of my controller methods is a "Get All" that expects to receive the contents of a table from my database as IQueryable<Entity>. In my repository I'm wondering if there is any advantageous reason to do this asynchronously as I'm new to using EF with async.

Basically it boils down to

 public async Task<IQueryable<URL>> GetAllUrlsAsync()
 {
    var urls = await context.Urls.ToListAsync();
    return urls.AsQueryable();
 }

vs

 public IQueryable<URL> GetAllUrls()
 {
    return context.Urls.AsQueryable();
 }

Will the async version actually yield performance benefits here or am I incurring unnecessary overhead by projecting to a List first (using async mind you) and THEN going to IQueryable?

1
93
10/31/2014 2:02:42 PM

Accepted Answer

The problem seems to be that you have misunderstood how async/await work with Entity Framework.

About Entity Framework

So, let's look at this code:

public IQueryable<URL> GetAllUrls()
{
    return context.Urls.AsQueryable();
}

and example of it usage:

repo.GetAllUrls().Where(u => <condition>).Take(10).ToList()

What happens there?

  1. We are getting IQueryable object (not accessing database yet) using repo.GetAllUrls()
  2. We create a new IQueryable object with specified condition using .Where(u => <condition>
  3. We create a new IQueryable object with specified paging limit using .Take(10)
  4. We retrieve results from database using .ToList(). Our IQueryable object is compiled to sql (like select top 10 * from Urls where <condition>). And database can use indexes, sql server send you only 10 objects from your database (not all billion urls stored in database)

Okay, let's look at first code:

public async Task<IQueryable<URL>> GetAllUrlsAsync()
{
    var urls = await context.Urls.ToListAsync();
    return urls.AsQueryable();
}

With the same example of usage we got:

  1. We are loading in memory all billion urls stored in your database using await context.Urls.ToListAsync();.
  2. We got memory overflow. Right way to kill your server

About async/await

Why async/await is preferred to use? Let's look at this code:

var stuff1 = repo.GetStuff1ForUser(userId);
var stuff2 = repo.GetStuff2ForUser(userId);
return View(new Model(stuff1, stuff2));

What happens here?

  1. Starting on line 1 var stuff1 = ...
  2. We send request to sql server that we want to get some stuff1 for userId
  3. We wait (current thread is blocked)
  4. We wait (current thread is blocked)
  5. .....
  6. Sql server send to us response
  7. We move to line 2 var stuff2 = ...
  8. We send request to sql server that we want to get some stuff2 for userId
  9. We wait (current thread is blocked)
  10. And again
  11. .....
  12. Sql server send to us response
  13. We render view

So let's look to an async version of it:

var stuff1Task = repo.GetStuff1ForUserAsync(userId);
var stuff2Task = repo.GetStuff2ForUserAsync(userId);
await Task.WhenAll(stuff1Task, stuff2Task);
return View(new Model(stuff1Task.Result, stuff2Task.Result));

What happens here?

  1. We send request to sql server to get stuff1 (line 1)
  2. We send request to sql server to get stuff2 (line 2)
  3. We wait for responses from sql server, but current thread isn't blocked, he can handle queries from another users
  4. We render view

Right way to do it

So good code here:

using System.Data.Entity;

public IQueryable<URL> GetAllUrls()
{
   return context.Urls.AsQueryable();
}

public async Task<List<URL>> GetAllUrlsByUser(int userId) {
   return await GetAllUrls().Where(u => u.User.Id == userId).ToListAsync();
}

Note, than you must add using System.Data.Entity in order to use method ToListAsync() for IQueryable.

Note, that if you don't need filtering and paging and stuff, you don't need to work with IQueryable. You can just use await context.Urls.ToListAsync() and work with materialized List<Url>.

219
1/11/2019 11:56:58 AM

Popular Answer

There is a massive difference in the example you have posted, the first version:

var urls = await context.Urls.ToListAsync();

This is bad, it basically does select * from table, returns all results into memory and then applies the where against that in memory collection rather than doing select * from table where... against the database.

The second method will not actually hit the database until a query is applied to the IQueryable (probably via a linq .Where().Select() style operation which will only return the db values which match the query.

If your examples were comparable, the async version will usually be slightly slower per request as there is more overhead in the state machine which the compiler generates to allow the async functionality.

However the major difference (and benefit) is that the async version allows more concurrent requests as it doesn't block the processing thread whilst it is waiting for IO to complete (db query, file access, web request etc).



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