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Microsoft provides a pretty rich toolset for database-centric development on the .NET platform. There tools, such as SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, are designed for managing database instances at a fairly high level. If you want to peer into the internal workings of a given database, you can use the SQL Server Management Studio Express application, and the Visual C# 2008 Express Edition IDE provides additional capabilities. By using a combination of these tools, you can effectively administer and develop database-centric C# solutions. Of course, you need to beware a few "gotchas," such as when two processes try to access the same database files, as I pointed out earlier.

In addition to these useful database tools, useful sample databases are available for download. You can use these databases to get a rapid start in the area of database development. In the end, the C# code required to access a database with ADO.NET is fairly straightforward. Consisting of just a C# file and a configuration file, the code hides a lot of background complexity. However, the abstraction of the technical details of database connection is what makes ADO.NET a powerful model.

In this article, I've focused mostly on getting the tools in place. The code to access the installed database is relatively simple; things get a little more complex when you want to modify the database. But the simplicity of the ADO.NET model helps a lot in this area as well.

As with the other articles I've written on C#, I was very impressed with the level of toolset maturity in the applications I used when writing this article. This is a good investment on the part of Microsoft in that it allows programmers to move up the value chain—a topic I've referenced many times in my articles.

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