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Entity Framework Extensions How to filter entities contained from an existing list with Entity Framework?

Description

The WhereBulkContains method lets you filter a LINQ query by including all items from an existing list.

Example

var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers).ToList();

var activeCustomers = context.Customers.Where(x => x.IsActive).WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers).ToList();

Scenario

Filtering entities using an existing list is a common scenario.

For example, you deserialize a JSON file into a list of Customer with the CustomerID and a few other properties populated. Then you want to retrieve those customers from the database to update those properties.

A frequent solution is using the Contains methods such as:

var customerIds = deserializedCustomers.Select(x => x.CustomerID).ToList();
var customers = context.Customers.Where(x => customerIds.Contains(x.CustomerID)).ToList();

It works great and is easy to use.

However, this solution has some limitations such as:

  • It only supports basic types like int or guid
  • The list of ids is limited due to SQL limitations
  • It doesn't support surrogate key (more than one key) or other complex scenarios

The WhereBulkContains method lets you filter a query by including all entities from the list. It's doesn't have any of the Contains method limitations.

FAQ

How to use the method WhereBulkContains?

The most basic scenario is passing a list to the WhereBulkContains method.

The WhereBulkContains method will filter entities to include those contained in the list.

// The `JOIN` statement will use the default entity key if none is provided (CustomerID)
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers);

// You can specify a custom `JOIN` clause with one or many properties using a `Lambda Expression`
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers, x => x.Code);

// You can specify a custom `JOIN` clause with one or many properties using a `List<string>`
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers, new List<string> { "Code" });

// You can specify a custom `JOIN` clause with one or many properties using a `params string[]`
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers, "Code");

Try it

The WhereBulkContainsAsync method is also supported.

What kind of list is supported?

All kinds of lists are supported. The only requirement is that your list is a basic type or contains a property with the same name as the key:

  • Basic type such as List<int> and List<Guid>
  • Entity Type such as List<Customer>
  • Anonymous Type
  • Expando Object list
{
	// - Basic type such as `List<int>` and `List<Guid>`
	var ids = deserializedCustomers.Select(x => x.CustomerID).ToList();
	var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(ids);
}
{
	// - Entity Type such as `List<Customer>`
	var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers);
}
{
	// - Anonymous Type
	var anonymousIds = deserializedCustomers.Select(x => new { x.CustomerID }).ToList();
	var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(anonymousIds);
}
{
	// Expando Object list
	var expandos = new List<ExpandoObject>();
	deserializedCustomers.ForEach(x => {
		dynamic expando = new ExpandoObject();
		expando.CustomerID = x.CustomerID;
		expandos.Add(expando);
	});
	var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(expandos);
}

Try it

The WhereBulkContainsAsync method is also supported.

Can I use WhereBulkContains after a Where?

Yes, the WhereBulkContains is an extension method that you can chain like any other LINQ method. You can chain it before or after the Where or any other LINQ methods.

var customers = context.Customers.Where(x => x.CustomerID >= 2).WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers);

Try it

Can I use the WhereBulkContains with million of items?

Yes, you can use the WhereBulkContains method with an unlimited amount of items.

Under the hood, we create a temporary table and populated it with our very fast BulkInsert method. Then we use this temporary table to perform an INNER JOIN statement.

How can I use a custom key?

By default, we create the join using the entity key, but you can choose a custom key with one or many properties by passing:

  • A lambda expression
  • A list of string
// You can specify a custom `JOIN` clause with one or many properties using a `Lambda Expression`
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers, x => x.Code);

// You can specify a custom `JOIN` clause with one or many properties using a `List<string>`
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers, new List<string> { "Code" });

// You can specify a custom `JOIN` clause with one or many properties using a `params string[]`
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers, "Code");

Try it

Can I use WhereBulkContains with Batch Operations?

The WhereBulkContains method is compatible with our batch methods:

context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers).UpdateFromQuery(x => new { FirstName = "UpdateFromQuery" });
context.Customers.WhereBulkNotContains(deserializedCustomers).DeleteFromQuery();
context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers).InsertFromQuery(x => new { x.Code, FirstName = "Copied", x.LastName, x.Email });

Try it

What are Contains method limitations?

Has said previously, the Contains method already work great but also have his own limitations:

  • It only supports basic types like int or guid
  • The list of ids is limited due to SQL limitations
  • It doesn't support surrogate key (more than one key) or other complex scenarios

The WhereBulkContains doesn't have any of those limitations.

Do WhereBulkContains faster than Contains method?

In most scenarios, the answer will probably be no. The Contains method is faster due to simply using a very basic IN (...) statement.

The WhereBulkContains method is also very fast, but the main advantage is his flexibility by supporting:

  • An unlimited amount of items
  • Any kind of list
  • Custom key/surrogate key

What is the difference between the method WhereBulkContains, WhereBulkNotContains, and BulkRead?

The WhereBulkNotContains method is similar to the WhereBulkContains method, but it filters entities not contained (exclude) instead of contained (include):

  • The WhereBulkContains method filters entities to include entities from the list (INNER JOIN statement)
  • The WhereBulkNotContains method filters entities to exclude entities from the list (WHERE NOT EXISTS statement).

As for the BulkRead method, under the hood calls the WhereBulkContains method followed by the ToList or ToListAsync method.

// Using the BulkRead method is exactly like doing the following code:
var customers = context.Customers.WhereBulkContains(deserializedCustomers).ToList();

So all three methods are very similar but serve different purpose.

What are the limitations?

We currently only support SQL Server.