When utilizing lazy-loaded, needed properties, validation fails on update in EF.

ef-code-first entity-framework

Question

Given this extremely simple model:

public class MyContext : BaseContext
{
    public DbSet<Foo> Foos { get; set; }
    public DbSet<Bar> Bars { get; set; }
}

public class Foo
{
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public int Data { get; set; }
    [Required]
    public virtual Bar Bar { get; set; }
}

public class Bar
{
    public int Id { get; set; }
}

The following program fails:

object id;
using (var context = new MyContext())
{
    var foo = new Foo { Bar = new Bar() };
    context.Foos.Add(foo);
    context.SaveChanges();
    id = foo.Id;
}
using (var context = new MyContext())
{
    var foo = context.Foos.Find(id);
    foo.Data = 2;
    context.SaveChanges(); //Crash here
}

With a DbEntityValidationException. The message found in EntityValidationErrors is The Bar field is required..

However, if I force loading of the Bar property by adding the following line before SaveChanges:

var bar = foo.Bar;

Everything works fine. This also works if I remove the [Required] attribute.

Is this really the expected behavior? Are there any workarounds (besides loading every single required reference every time I want to update an entity)

1
69
5/18/2011 12:52:40 AM

Accepted Answer

I found the following post that had an answer for the same problem:

The cause of this problem is that in RC and RTM validation no longer lazy loads any properties. The reason this change was made is because when saving a lot of entities at once that have lazy loaded properties validation would get them one by one potentially causing a lot of unexpected transactions and crippling performance.

The workaround is to explicitly load all validated properties before saving or validating by using .Include(), you can read more on how to do this here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/adonet/archive/2011/01/31/using-dbcontext-in-ef-feature-ctp5-part-6-loading-related-entities.aspx

My take on this is that is a pretty crappy proxy implementation. While unnecesarily walking the object graph and retriveing lazy-loaded properties is naturally something to be avoided (but apparently overlooked in Microsoft's first incarnation of EF), you shouldn't have to need to go un-proxying a wrapper to validate that it exists. On second thoughts, I'm not sure why you need to go walking the object graph anyway, surely the change tracker of the ORM knows what objects require validation.

I'm not sure why the problem exists, but I'm sure I wouldn't be having this problem if I was using say, NHibernate.

My 'workaround' - What I've done is define the Required nature of the relationship in a EntityTypeConfiguration class, and removed the Required attribute. This should make it work fine. It means that you will not validate the relationship, but it will fail the update. Not an ideal result.

54
10/13/2012 6:54:09 AM

Popular Answer

Ok, here is the real answer =)

First a little explanation

if you have a property (like your Bar) noting a FK (ForeignKey), you can also have the corresponding FK field in your model so if we only need the FK and not the actual Bar we don't need it to go to the database:

[ForeignKey("BarId")]
public virtual Bar Bar { get; set; }
public int BarId { get; set; }

Now, to answer your question, what you can do to make the Bar as Required is to flag the BarId property as required, but not the Bar itself:

[ForeignKey("BarId")]
public virtual Bar Bar { get; set; }
[Required] //this makes the trick
public int BarId { get; set; }

this works like a charm =)



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