foreign key property

.NET Framework (current version)

A foreign key property in the Entity Data Model (EDM) is a primitive type property (or a set of primitive type properties) on an entity type that contains the entity key of another entity type.

A foreign key property is analogous to a foreign key column in a relational database. In the same way that foreign key columns are used in a relational database to create relationships between rows in tables, foreign key properties in a conceptual model are used to establish associations between entity types. A referential integrity constraint is used to define an association between two entity types when one of the types has a foreign key property.

The diagram below shows a conceptual model with three entity types: Book, Publisher, and Author. The Book entity type has a property, PublisherId, that references the entity key of the Publisher entity type when you define a referential integrity constraint on the PublishedBy association.


The ADO.NET Entity Framework uses a domain-specific language (DSL) called conceptual schema definition language (CSDL) to define conceptual models. The following CSDL uses the foreign key property PublisherId to define a referential integrity constraint on the PublishedBy association shown in the conceptual model shown above.

<Association Name="PublishedBy">
  <End Type="BooksModel.Book" Role="Book" Multiplicity="*" >
  <End Type="BooksModel.Publisher" Role="Publisher" Multiplicity="1" />
    <Principal Role="Publisher">
      <PropertyRef Name="Id" />
    <Dependent Role="Book">
      <PropertyRef Name="PublisherId" />