LINQ is not an excuse for sloppy code by ThinqLinq

LINQ is not an excuse for sloppy code

A couple months ago, I was convinced to try Twitter. In the process, I found www.TweetBeep.com which sends me notifications whenever someone tweets the word LINQ. Today I saw the following:

"my visual studio crashed on retrieving 39,450 records via Linq.. what a shame.. looking for a workaround and a reason.." (name withheld to protect the guilty).

In some ways, this falls into the category of, "Just because you can doesn't mean you should." In this case, the fault lies in the business requirement. There shouldn't be any reason why you should fetch 39,000 records. What user in their right mind would page through that many results?

While admitedly, many demos (including some that I present) show queries such as the following, we do that knowing that the resulting rows will be relatively small.

Dim custs = From c In Customers _
                   Order By c.Name _
                   Select c

One of the great things about LINQ is the compositionality. In this, you can add qualifications to your query (like paging and filtering) without affecting the underlying query. If you are using queries that don't utilize paging and or filtering on your data, make sure you know the underlying data and that returning that many records is reasonable (and isn't likely to grow substantially in the future). As an example, we can extend the above query and add paging as follows:

Dim custs = From c In Customers _
                   Order By c.Name _
                   Select c

Dim pageSize = 10
Dim paged = custs _
                    .Skip(currentPageNumber * pageSize) _
                    .Take(PageSize)

Additionally, I strongly recommend limiting the results prior to fetching using a where clause. There are a number of sites out there that show how to progressivly filter results (for a ComboBox, a TextBox's AutoCompleteSource or the AJAX AutoComplete extender). Extending the functionality so that the suggested items don't appear until the results are sufficiently (depending on your data) filtered is equally easy with LINQ:

If SearchString.Length > 2 Then
     Dim custs = From c In Customers _
                   Where c.Name.StartsWith(SearchString)
                   Order By c.Name _
                   Select c _
                   Take 25
     CustName.AutoCompleteSource = custs
Else
     'Not sufficiently filtered. Keep the suggestion list blank.
     CustName.AutoCompleteSource = New String() {}
End If

In the case of the original question. LINQ isn't at fault here. It is a tool for you to use. Fetching 39,000 records using LINQ or ADO.Net are equally bad ideas. Use the tools to their best effect. Don't get sloppy in your coding practice.

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