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Comparing Data Providers for Oracle

This article spotlights the differences between dotConnect for Oracle, Oracle Data Provider for .NET (ODP.NET) 11g, and .NET Framework Data Provider for Oracle.

From the interface point of view, the providers look pretty much alike. The question is, what features are supported and how they are supported. This article does not cover performance issues. For information on performance tests please refer to online article at www.devart.com/dotconnect/oracle/performance.html.

This article consists of the following sections:

Features Table

The following table enumerates major useful features that assist development of Oracle applications. Each feature in the table is briefly described later in the article.

Feature dotConnect for Oracle MS Data Provider for Oracle Oracle Data Provider for .NET ODP.NET, Managed Driver
Connectivity
Direct mode to access database without Oracle Client Yes No No Yes
Wide client and server versions support Yes Partial Partial Partial
OS authentication Yes Yes Yes Yes
Proxy Authentication Yes No Yes Yes
DBA privileges to open a session with Yes No Yes Yes
Oracle data types
All Oracle data types support Yes No Yes Yes
Support for OBJECT, VARRAY, TABLE, REF types Yes No Yes No
Support for Oracle XML type Yes No Yes No
Support for REF CURSORs Yes Partial Yes Partial
AnyData type support Yes No No No
Oracle technologies
Advanced Queuing (AQ) support Yes No Yes Yes
OracleGlobalization class to manipulate the globalization settings of the session, thread, and local computer. Yes No Yes Yes
Array binding feature Yes No Yes Yes
Transparent Application Failover support Yes No Yes Yes
Working with Oracle homes Yes No Yes Yes
OCI Pooling Yes No No No
Distributed transactions using TransactionScope in OCI mode support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Toolkit components
OracleAlerter component to transfer messages between connections or client applications. Yes No No No
OraclePipe component to transfer data between connections or client applications. Yes No No No
OracleTrace component to trace command execution on Oracle server. Yes No No No
OracleScript component to execute scripts Yes No No No
OracleLoader component for fast data loading Yes No Yes Yes
OraclePackage component for easy working with PL/SQL packages Yes No No No
.NET Framework features
100% managed code Yes Yes No Yes
NET Core support Yes No No No
NET Compact Framework support Yes No Yes No
Mono Framework support Yes Yes No No
Sync Framework support Yes No No No
Workflow Foundation support Yes No No No
All-in-one component to retrieve and manipulate data from Oracle server data source Yes No No No
Advanced connection pooling Yes Yes Yes Yes
Asynchronous execution support Yes No No No
Paginal access to query result Yes No No No
Ability to retrieve metadata information Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ability of monitoring query and stored procedures execution Yes No No No
Data source enumeration Yes No Yes Yes
Batch processing support Yes Yes Yes Yes
Database change notification support Yes No Yes Yes
Provider-specific types support Yes Partial Partial Partial
IDE, design time
Advanced integration with Visual Studio 2008 - 2017 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cross-form components cooperation in WinForms applications Yes No No No
Help integrated into Visual Studio Yes Yes Yes No
Advanced design-time editors Yes Yes No No
Design-time wizards Yes Yes No No
ORM solution support
LinqConnect (LINQ to Oracle) Yes No No No
Entity Framework v1 - v6 Yes No Partial Partial
Entity Framework Core Yes No No No
Support in Entity Developer - powerful ORM Designer with Visual Studio integration Yes* Yes Yes Yes
Other features
Support for Data Access Application Block in Enterprise Library Yes No No No
ASP.NET data providers: SimpleMembership, Membership, Role, Session State, Profile, Personalization, Site Map, Web Event Yes No Partial Partial
Distribution via NuGet packages Yes No No Yes
Easy to deploy Yes No No No
Free commercial usage Yes* Yes Yes Yes
Free support for registered users during 1 year Yes Yes No No

Detailed Information on Features

Of course, all data providers allow you to connect to the server and perform fundamental operations. So, common classes like OracleConnection, OracleCommand, OracleDataReader or OracleDataAdapter were not enumerated. The table shows that major advanced features are supported by the three data providers. dotConnect for Oracle provides extra components to manipulate data, scripts and packages. Additionaly, dotConnect for Oracle has wider compatibility list and can work without Oracle Client Software installed.

Connectivity

  • Direct mode to access database without Oracle client

    dotConnect for Oracle can use Oracle Call Interface (OCI) to connect to Oracle database server. This is usual way to develop Oracle applications with a third-generation language. However, it requires Oracle client software installed on workstation that is the cause of additional expenses for installation and administration. These problems can be eliminated by using Direct mode of connecting to server. In Direct mode dotConnect for Oracle talks to Oracle server in person, without calling any third party libraries. It allows your application to work with Oracle directly through TCP/IP protocol without involving Oracle client software. ODP.NET, Managed Driver also can connect Oracle without involving Oracle client software.

  • Wide client and server versions support

    dotConnect for Oracle supports Oracle servers 12c, 11g, 10g, 9i, 8i, 8.0 and 7.3, including Personal and Express editions. The following Oracle clients are supported: 12c, 11g, 10g, 9i, 8i and 8.0. Applications built with ODP.NET or Microsoft provider can work with fewer range of servers and clients. Only dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET support x64 versions of Oracle Client Software.

  • OS authentication

    All data providers support the OS authentication feature.

  • Proxy authentication

    In dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET you can take advantage of a useful Oracle feature - proxied connections. This helps to optimize application performance.

  • DBA privileges to open a session with

    Allows database administrators to connect to Oracle database with either SYSDBA or SYSOPER privileges. This is done through an attribute of the ConnectionString property. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle does not allow opening session with DBA privileges.

Oracle data types

  • All Oracle data types support

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET data providers support all existing Oracle types. For types that do not map directly to .NET Framework types there are special classes and structures. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle has limited types support.

  • Support for OBJECT, VARRAY, TABLE, REF types

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET data providers allow manipulating OBJECT, VARRAY, TABLE and REF types. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle does not support these types.

  • Support for Oracle XML type

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET provide convenient toolset to work with XML data in Oracle server. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle does not handle XML data.

  • Support for REF CURSORs

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET allow sophisticated REF CURSOR management. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle has limited support for REF CURSORs' advanced features.

  • AnyData type support

    dotConnect for Oracle OracleAnyData class can be used as a table column datatype and lets you store heterogeneous values in a single column. The values can be of SQL built-in types as well as user-defined types.

Oracle technologies

  • Advanced Queuing (AQ) support

    dotConnect for Oracle provides convenient client side wrappers for packages and objects used in Oracle Advanced Queuing. In ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle you have to work with pure DBMS packages.

  • OracleGlobalization class

    This class allows you to obtain and set the Oracle globalization settings of the session, thread, and local computer. The class is present in dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET.

  • Array binding

    This feature allows you to execute several INSERT SQL statements with different parameters at single query. Server is accessed only once, which increases speed of update a lot. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle does not implement array binding.

  • Transparent Application Failover support

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET data providers have capability to automatically reconnect to the database if the connection fails. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle does not have this capability.

  • Working with Oracle homes

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET data providers can switch between Oracle homes if more than one home is installed on the system. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle does not have this capability.

  • OCI Pooling

    In dotConnect for Oracle you can use OCI Pooling instead of usual connection pooling. This helps to optimize performance in OCI mode.

  • Distributed transactions using TransactionScope in OCI mode support

    TransactionScope is a wrapper class which allows you to include your code into the transaction. It gives an opportunity to use local and distributed transactions. Distributed transactions are supported by all the compared providers.

Toolkit components

  • OracleAlerter component

    This dotConnect for Oracle component enables you to transfer messages between connections or client applications. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

  • OraclePipe component

    This dotConnect for Oracle component enables you to transfer data between connections or client applications. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

  • OracleTrace component

    This dotConnect for Oracle component helps tracing command execution on Oracle server. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

  • OracleScript component

    This dotConnect for Oracle component serves to execute series of SQL statements separated by special symbols, like SQL*Plus scripts. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

  • OracleLoader component

    This dotConnect for Oracle component serves to load external data into the Oracle database. It uses DirectPath OCI API to give highest possible performance. There is no counterpart in Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle. ODP.NET has a similar OracleBulkCopy component.

  • OraclePackage component

    This dotConnect for Oracle component provides access to procedures and variables of packages stored in the Oracle database. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET or Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

.NET Framework Features

The table above makes clear that ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle have partial support for major .NET features. None of the unsupported by .NET features is vital to development process, but some would aid or speed it up greatly.

  • 100% managed code

    dotConnect for Oracle and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle are written on pure managed code. They do not depend on any unmanaged library. This allows functioning in a restrictive environment (like on web servers), gives automatic optimization for x64 architecture. Oracle Data Provider for .NET includes ODP.NET, Managed Driver, which is also 100% managed code.

  • .NET Core support

    dotConnect for Oracle allows you to create .NET Core and .NET Standard targeting solutions. It ncludes .NET Standard compatible assemblies that support .NET Core 1.0 and 2.0 and Full .NET Framework 4.6 and higher.

  • .NET Compact Framework support

    Both dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET allow creating applications for .NET Compact Framework. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle and ODP.NET, Managed Driver does not support it.

  • Mono Framework support

    dotConnect for Oracle allows you to create applications for Mono framework (only Direct connection mode is available on Mono). Oracle Data Provider for .NET does not support it.

  • Sync Framework support

    dotConnect for Oracle provides the synchronization provider class and the necessary classes for provisioning and deprovisioning tables and synchronization scopes.

  • Workflow Foundation support

    dotConnect for Oracle supports Workflow Instance Store and Workflow Tracking.

  • All-in-one component to retrieve and manipulate data

    The OracleDataTable component in dotConnect for Oracle represents a single object that provides all of the functionality needed to retrieve and manipulate data from an Oracle server data source. It supports both connected and disconnected data access models. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET or Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

  • Advanced connection pooling

    All data providers utilize sophisticated mechanisms to optimize interaction with Oracle server. This allows you to balance network load and increase performance significantly.

  • Asynchronous execution support

    dotConnect for Oracle supports asynchronous execution of methods that take most of time in database applications, that is, opening a connection, transferring large blocks of data, and other operations alike.

  • Paginal access to query result

    dotConnect for Oracle allows you to request from server a subset of rows that a statement would return in normal way. This helps to save memory and improve performance by stripping off unnecessary data.

  • Ability to retrieve metadata information

    All data providers support OracleConnection.GetSchema() method, which is standard .NET way to obtain information on schema objects.

  • Ability of monitoring query and stored procedures execution

    dotConnect for Oracle provides OracleMonitor component, which allows you to monitor dynamic SQL execution in applications that use dotConnect for Oracle. There is no analogue in ODP.NET and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle.

  • Data source enumeration

    This feature enables the application to generically obtain a collection of the Oracle data sources that the application can connect to. The capability is supported by dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET.

  • Batch processing support

    This feature allows updating specified number of rows in a single round-trip to the database when working with OracleDataAdapter component. The capability is supported by all data providers.

  • Database change notification support

    This feature enables applications to receive notifications when there is a change in a query result set, schema objects, or the state of the database. Using Database Change Notification, an application can easily maintain the validity of the client-side cache. The capability is supported by dotConnect for Oracle and ODP.NET.

  • Provider-specific types support

    Provider-specific types in its native formats can greatly enhance capabilities of client side applications. All data providers can fetch these types. dotConnect for Oracle also can modify the data in provider-specific format.

IDE, design time

This part of the table demonstrates that dotConnect for Oracle is the only product that supports true RAD development and that ODP.NET has only partial design-time support.

  • Advanced integration with Visual Studio 2008 - 2017

    All data providers support all design-time features known as Data Designer Extensibility. These features allow you to preview data, customize DataSets and many other operations.

  • Cross-form components cooperation in WinForms applications

    dotConnect for Oracle includes the InterForm technology, which allows components in WinForms applications to collaborate even if they are located on different forms of UserControls. This capability is supported in design time, which enables you to setup data access in a declarative way.

  • Help integrated into Visual Studio

    All data providers integrate the documentation into Visual Studio Help Collection.

  • Advanced design-time editors

    dotConnect for Oracle and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle have components with greatly enhanced design-time tools, which allow you to setup components in a true RAD manner. There is no counterpart in ODP.NET.

  • Design-time wizards

    dotConnect for Oracle and Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle have wizards that leverage client-side application development. ODP.NET does not have such wizards.

ORM solution support

dotConnect for Oracle includes support for LinqConnect (formerly LINQ to Oracle) and Entity Framework ORM solutions. It comes with its own visual model designer - Entity Developer, which allows not just designing models and generating code for them, but executing LINQ and Entity SQL queries against the model and working with database data.

  • LinqConnect (formerly LINQ to Oracle)

    The technology allows you to employ object-oriented database application development with less efforts and in less time. It is compatible with Microsoft LINQ to SQL but provides wider set of features.

  • Entity Framework v1 - v6

    The latest ADO.NET evolution focuses on raising the level of abstraction from the logical (relational) level to the conceptual (entity) level. For this purpose Microsoft introduces the Entity Framework, designed to simplify data - object conversion and embed data access queries into program code. Devart dotConnect for Oracle supports all release versions of Entity Framework. ODP.NET also supports Entity Framework.

  • Entity Framework Core

    After Entity Framework v6, Microsoft concentrated efforts to make a cross-platform and more lightweight version of Entity Framework ORM. This resulted in complete Entity Framework rewrite and creation of Entity Framework Core. dotConnect for Oracle supports Entity Framework Core 1.1 and 2.0.

  • Support in Entity Developer - powerful ORM Designer with Visual Studio integration

    dotConnect for Oracle Professional and Developer editions include Entity Developer - visual designer for ORM models with support for model first, database first and mixed approaches, seamless Visual Studio integration and lots of other features. Entity Developer supports Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle and ODP.NET and ODP.NET, Managed Driver too, but for these providers it must be purchased separately.

Other features

This section of the table contains other aspects of developing applications with Oracle: interaction with other technologies and licensing questions.

  • Support for Data Access Application Block in Enterprise Library

    dotConnect for Oracle makes it easy to employ Microsoft Patterns and Practices in your application.

  • ASP.NET data providers: SimpleMembership provider, Membership provider, Role provider, Session State provider, Profile provider

    dotConnect for Oracle can be used as data source in ASP.NET Provider Model, which allows you to develop DBMS-independent web applications. It also supports the ASP.NET SimpleMembership provider that appeared in ASP.NET MVC 4. Since the version 12c, ODP.NET also includes ASP.NET data providers, but it does not support the SimpleMembership provider.

  • Distribution via NuGet packages

    dotConnect for Oracle has three sets of assemblies: for full .NET Framework, .NET Standard 1.3 compatible assemblies, and .NET Standard 2.0 compatible assemblies. .NET Standard compatible assemblies are available as NuGet packages. ODP.NET, Managed Driver also is available as NuGet packages from NuGet.org.

  • Easy to deploy

    Applications built with dotConnect for Oracle in Direct mode do not require Oracle Client Software installed on the computer, so it is very easy to deploy the applications. Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle is a part of .NET Framework but requires Oracle Client Software. ODP.NET requires specific Oracle Client Software version so it may be necessary to upgrade the client to newer version.

  • Free commercial usage

    Microsoft Data Provider for Oracle and ODP.NET are freely distributed and can be downloaded from web sites of appropriate vendors. dotConnect for Oracle is a commercial product and requires one-time registration fee, but there is a free Express edition of dotConnect for Oracle, which can be used without restrictions.

  • Free support for registered users during 1 year

    dotConnect for Oracle provides free reliable online support (using web forum or e-mail) for registered users.