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Walkthrough: Creating a Local Database File in Visual Studio

You can explore basic tasks, such as adding tables and defining columns, by using Visual Studio to create and update a local database file in SQL Server Express LocalDB, which Local Data Overview describes. After you finish this walkthrough, you can discover more advanced capabilities by using your local database as a starting point for other walkthroughs that require it.

For information about how to create a database by using SQL Server Management Studio or Transact-SQL, see Create a Database.

During this walkthrough, you'll explore the following tasks:

To complete this walkthrough, install Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows, Visual Studio Professional 2013, Visual Studio Premium 2013, or Visual Studio Ultimate 2013. These versions of Visual Studio include SQL Server Data Tools.

To create a project and a database file

  1. Create a Windows Forms project that's named SampleDatabaseWalkthrough.

    See Creating Solutions and Projects.

  2. On the menu bar, choose Project, Add New Item.

    The Add New Item dialog box appears so that you can add items that are appropriate in a Windows Form project.

  3. In the list of item templates, scroll down until Service-based Database appears, and then choose it.

    Item Templates dialog box
  4. Name the database SampleDatabase, and then choose the Add button.

  5. If the Data Sources window isn't open, open it by choosing the Shift-Alt-D keys or, on the menu bar, choosing View, Other Windows, Data Sources.

  6. In the Data Sources window, choose the Add New Data Source link.

  7. In the Data Source Configuration Wizard, choose the Next button four times to accept the default settings, and then choose the Finish button.

By opening the properties window for the database, you can view its connection string and the location of the primary .mdf file.

  • In Visual Studio Express, choose View, Other Windows, Database Explorer if that window isn't already open. Open the properties window by expanding the Data Connections node, opening the shortcut menu for SampleDatabase.mdf, and then choosing Properties.

  • In other versions of Visual Studio, choose View, Server Explorer if that window isn't already open. Open the properties window by expanding the Data Connections node, opening the shortcut menu for SampleDatabase.mdf, and then choosing Properties.

In this section, you'll create a couple of tables, a primary key in each table, and a few rows of sample data. In the next walkthrough, you'll get an idea of how that information might appear in an application. You'll also create a foreign key to specify how records in one table might correspond to records in the other table.

To create the Customers table

  1. In Server Explorer or Database Explorer, expand the Data Connections node, and then expand the SampleDatabase.mdf node.

    If the explorer for your version of Visual Studio isn't open, choose View, Server Explorer or View, Other Windows, Database Explorer on the menu bar.

  2. Open the shortcut menu for Tables, and then choose Add New Table.

    The Table Designer opens and shows a grid with one default row, which represents a single column in the table that you're creating. By adding rows to the grid, you'll add columns in the table.

  3. In the grid, add a row for each of the following entries:

    Column name

    Data type

    Allow nulls

    CustomerID

    nchar(5)

    False (cleared)

    CompanyName

    nvarchar(40)

    False (cleared)

    ContactName

    nvarchar (30)

    True (selected)

    Phone

    nvarchar (24)

    True (selected)

  4. Open the shortcut menu for the CustomerID row, and then choose Set Primary Key.

  5. Open the shortcut menu for the default row, and then choose Delete.

  6. Name the Customers table by updating the first line in the script pane to match the following sample:

    CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Customers]
    
  7. In the upper-left corner of the Table Designer, choose the Update button, as the following illustration shows.

    Update button for Table Designer
  8. In the Preview Database Updates dialog box, choose the Update Database button.

    Your changes are saved to the local database file.

To create the Orders table

  1. Add another table, and then add a row for each entry in the following table:

    Column name

    Data type

    Allow nulls

    OrderID

    int

    False (cleared)

    CustomerID

    nchar(5)

    False (cleared)

    OrderDate

    datetime

    True (selected)

    OrderQuantity

    int

    True (selected)

  2. Set the OrderID as the primary key, and then delete the default row.

  3. Name the Orders table by updating the first line in the script pane to match the following sample:

    CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Orders]
    
  4. In the upper-left corner of the Table Designer, choose the Update button.

  5. In the Preview Database Updates dialog box, choose the Update Database button.

    Your changes are saved to the local database file.

To create a foreign key

  1. In the context pane on the right side of the grid, open the shortcut menu for Foreign Keys, and then choose Add New Foreign Key, as the following illustration shows.

    Adding a foreign key in Table Designer
  2. In the text box that appears, replace ToTable with Customers.

  3. In the script pane, update the last line to match the following sample:

    CONSTRAINT [FK_Orders_Customers] FOREIGN KEY ([CustomerID]) REFERENCES [Customers]([CustomerID])
    
  4. In the upper-left corner of the Table Designer, choose the Update button.

  5. In the Preview Database Updates dialog box, choose the Update Database button.

    Your changes are saved to the local database file.

To populate the tables with data

  1. In Server Explorer or Database Explorer, expand the node for the sample database.

  2. Open the shortcut menu for the Tables node, choose Refresh, and then expand the Tables node.

  3. Open the shortcut menu for the Customers table, and then choose Show Table Data.

  4. Add whatever data you want for at least three customers.

    You can specify any five characters you want as the customer IDs, but choose at least one that you can remember for use later in this procedure.

  5. Open the shortcut menu for the Orders table, and then choose Show Table Data.

  6. Add data for at least three orders.

    Important note Important

    Make sure that all order IDs and order quantities are integers and that each customer ID matches a value that you specified in the CustomerID column of the Customers table.

  7. On the menu bar, choose File, Save All.

  8. On the menu bar, choose File, Close Solution.

    Note Note

    As a best practice, you can back up the database file that you just created by copying it and then either pasting the copy in another location or giving the copy a different name.

Now that you have a local database file with some sample data, you can complete Walkthrough: Connecting to Data in a Local Database File (Windows Forms), in addition to other walkthroughs that demonstrate database tasks.

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