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TableAdapter Overview

Updated: September 2008

TableAdapters provide communication between your application and a database. More specifically, a TableAdapter connects to a database, executes queries or stored procedures, and either returns a new data table populated with the returned data or fills an existing DataTable with the returned data. TableAdapters are also used to send updated data from your application back to the database.

Users of previous versions of Visual Studio can think of a TableAdapter as a DataAdapter with a built-in connection object and the ability to contain multiple queries. Each query added to a TableAdapter is exposed as a public method that is called like any other method or function on an object.

In addition to the standard functionality of a DataAdapter, TableAdapters provide additional typed methods that encapsulate queries that share a common schema with the associated typed DataTable. In other words, you can have as many queries as you want on a TableAdapter as long as they return data that conforms to the same schema.

In the previous version of Visual Studio, ADO.NET Data Adapters were used for communicating between an application and a database. While data adapters are still a main component of .NET Framework Data Providers (ADO.NET), TableAdapters are designer-generated components that improve upon the functionality of DataAdapters. TableAdapters typically contain Fill and Update methods to fetch and update data in a database.

To create TableAdapters inside of strongly typed datasets, use the Dataset Designer. You can create TableAdapters during creation of a new dataset with the Data Source Configuration Wizard. You can also create TableAdapters in existing datasets by using the TableAdapter Configuration Wizard or by dragging database objects from Server Explorer onto the Dataset Designer. For more information, see How to: Create TableAdapters.

While TableAdapters are designed with the Dataset Designer, the TableAdapter classes generated are not generated as nested classes of the DataSet. They are located in a separate namespace specific to each dataset. For example, if you have a dataset named NorthwindDataSet, the TableAdapters associated with the DataTables in the NorthwindDataSet would be in the NorthwindDataSetTableAdapters namespace. To access a particular TableAdapter programmatically, you must declare a new instance of the TableAdapter. For example:

NorthwindDataSet northwindDataSet = new NorthwindDataSet();

NorthwindDataSetTableAdapters.CustomersTableAdapter customersTableAdapter = 
    new NorthwindDataSetTableAdapters.CustomersTableAdapter();


When creating a TableAdapter, the initial query or stored procedure is used to define the schema of the TableAdapter's associated DataTable. You execute this initial query or stored procedure by calling the TableAdapter's main Fill method (which fills the TableAdapter's associated DataTable). Any changes made to the TableAdapter's main query are reflected in the schema of the associated data table. For example, removing a column from the main query removes the column from the associated data table. If any additional queries on the TableAdapter use SQL statements returning columns that are not in the main query, then the designer will attempt to synchronize the column changes between the main query and any additional queries. For more information, see How to: Edit TableAdapters.

The update functionality of a TableAdapter is dependent on how much information is available based on the main query provided in the TableAdapter Wizard. For example, TableAdapters that are configured to fetch values from multiple tables (JOINs), scalar values, views, or the results of aggregate functions are not initially created with the ability to send updates back to the underlying database. However, you can configure the INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE commands manually in the Properties window.

TableAdapter with multiple queries

Unlike standard data adapters, TableAdapters can contain multiple queries to fill their associated data tables. You can define as many queries for a TableAdapter as your application requires, as long as each query returns data that conforms to the same schema as its associated data table. This enables loading of data that satisfies differing criteria. For example, if your application contains a table of customers, you can create a query that fills the table with every customer whose name begins with a certain letter, and another query that fills the table with all customers located in the same state. To fill a Customers table with customers in a given state you can create a FillByState query that takes a parameter for the state value: SELECT * FROM Customers WHERE State = @State. You execute the query by calling the FillByState method and passing in the parameter value like this: CustomerTableAdapter.FillByState("WA"). For more information, see How to: Create TableAdapter Queries.

In addition to queries that return data of the same schema as the TableAdapter's data table, you can add queries that return scalar (single) values. For example, creating a query that returns a count of customers (SELECT Count(*) From Customers) is valid for a CustomersTableAdapter even though the data returned does not conform to the table's schema.

The TableAdapter adds a property not available on the base DataAdapter class. By default, every time you execute a query to fill a TableAdapter's data table, the data is cleared and only the results of the query are loaded into the table. Set the TableAdapter's ClearBeforeFill property to false if you want to add or merge the data returned from a query to the existing data in a data table. Regardless of whether you clear the data, you need to explicitly send updates back to the database, if desired. So remember to save any changes made to the data in the table before executing another query that fills the table. For more information, see How to: Update Data by Using a TableAdapter.

TableAdapters extend the functionality of standard data adapters by encapsulating a configured DataAdapter. By default, the TableAdapter inherits from Component and cannot be cast to the DataAdapter class. Casting a TableAdapter to a DataAdapter results in an InvalidCastException. To change the base class of a TableAdapter, you can type a class that derives from Component in the Base Class property of the TableAdapter in the Dataset Designer.

The TableAdapter class is not part of the .NET Framework, and as such you cannot look it up in the documentation or the Object Browser. It is created at design time when you use one of the wizards mentioned above. The name assigned to a TableAdapter when you create it is based on the name of the table you are working with. For example, when creating a TableAdapter based on a table in a database named Orders, the TableAdapter would be named OrdersTableAdapter. The class name of the TableAdapter can be changed using the Name property in the Dataset Designer.

The following are the commonly used methods and properties of TableAdapters:




Populates the TableAdapter's associated data table with the results of the TableAdapter's SELECT command. For more information, see How to: Fill a Dataset with Data.


Sends changes back to the database and returns an integer representing the number of rows affected by the update. For more information, see How to: Update Data by Using a TableAdapter.


Returns a new DataTable filled with data.


Creates a new row in the data table. For more information, see How to: Add Rows to a DataTable.


Determines whether a data table is emptied before you call one of the Fill methods.

TableAdapters use data commands to read to (and write from) the database. The TableAdapter's initial Fill (main) query is used as the basis to create both the schema for the associated data table, and several TableAdapter commands (for example, InsertCommand, UpdateCommand, and the DeleteCommand.Update method). The TableAdapter's Update method will execute statements that were created when the TableAdapter was originally configured, but this method call will not execute any additional queries that you may have added by using the TableAdapter Query Configuration Wizard.

When you use a TableAdapter, it effectively performs the same operations with the commands that you typically perform. For example, when you call the adapter's Fill method, the adapter executes the data command in its SelectCommand property and uses a data reader such as SqlDataReader to load the result set into the data table. Similarly, when you call the adapter's Update method, it executes the appropriate command (in the UpdateCommand, InsertCommand, and DeleteCommand properties) for each changed record in the data table.


If there is enough information in the main query when the TableAdapter is generated, the InsertCommand, UpdateCommand, and DeleteCommand commands are created by default. If the TableAdapter's main query is more than a single table SELECT statement, it is possible that the designer will not be able to generate InsertCommand, UpdateCommand, and DeleteCommand. If these commands are not generated, you may receive an error when executing the TableAdapter.Update method.

In addition to the InsertCommand, UpdateCommand, and DeleteCommand, TableAdapters are created with methods that can be executed directly against the database. These methods (TableAdapter.Insert, TableAdapter.Update, and TableAdapter.Delete) can be called directly to manipulate data in the database. This means you can call these individual methods from your code instead of calling TableAdapter.Update to handle the inserts, updates, and deletes that are pending for the associated data table.

If you do not want to create methods directly, set the TableAdapter's GenerateDbDirectMethods property to false (in the Properties window). Additional queries added to the TableAdapter are standalone queries — they do not generate these methods.

The TableAdapters support nullable types Nullable(Of T) and T?. For more information on nullable types in Visual Basic, see Nullable Value Types. For more information on nullable types in C#, see Using Nullable Types (C# Programming Guide).




September 2008

Added additional content to the TableAdapter GenerateDBDirectMethods section.

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