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Oracle and .NET: Tales from the dark ages

Each time when I tried to load data from an Oracle database it was a pretty terrible experience.

I remember that I struggle to find the right Oracle driver and even when everything was installed the strange TNS ora config file popped up and nothing worked.

It can be simple…

2 weeks ago I had the pleasure to load some data from a Oracle database and discovered something beautiful: Actually, I can be pretty simple today.

The way to success:

1. Just ignore the System.Data.OracleClient-Namespace

The implementation is pretty old and if you go this route you will end up with the terrible “Oracle driver/tns.ora”-chaos mentioned above.

2. Use the Oracle.ManagedDataAccess:

Just install the official NuGet package and you are done. The single .dll contains all the bits to connect to an Oracle database. No driver installation additional software is needed. Yay!

The NuGet package will add some config entries in your web.config or app.config. I will cover this in the section below.

3. Use sane ConnectionStrings:

Instead of the wild Oracle TNS config stuff, just use (a more or less) sane ConnectionString.

You can either just use the same configuration you would normally do in the TNS file, like this:


Or use the even simpler “easy connect name schema” like this:

Data Source=username/password@myserver//instancename;

DbProviderFactories & ODP.NET

As I mentioned earlier after the installation your web or app.config might look different.

The most interesting addition is the registration in the DbProviderFactories-section:

 <remove invariant="Oracle.ManagedDataAccess.Client"/>
 <add name="ODP.NET, Managed Driver" invariant="Oracle.ManagedDataAccess.Client" description="Oracle Data Provider for .NET, Managed Driver"
 type="Oracle.ManagedDataAccess.Client.OracleClientFactory, Oracle.ManagedDataAccess, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=89b483f429c47342"/>

I covered this topic a while ago in an older blogpost, but to keep it simple: It also works for Oracle!

		private static void OracleTest()
 string constr = "Data Source=localhost;User Id=...;Password=...;";

 DbProviderFactory factory = DbProviderFactories.GetFactory("Oracle.ManagedDataAccess.Client");

 using (DbConnection conn = factory.CreateConnection())
 conn.ConnectionString = constr;

 using (DbCommand dbcmd = conn.CreateCommand())
 dbcmd.CommandType = CommandType.Text;
 dbcmd.CommandText = "select name, address from contacts WHERE UPPER(name) Like UPPER('%' || :name || '%') ";

 var dbParam = dbcmd.CreateParameter();
 // prefix with : possible, but @ will be result in an error
 dbParam.ParameterName = "name";
 dbParam.Value = "foobar";


 using (DbDataReader dbrdr = dbcmd.ExecuteReader())
 while (dbrdr.Read())
 catch (Exception ex)

MSSQL, MySql and Oracle - via DbProviderFactories

The above code is a snippet from my larger sample demo covering MSSQL, MySQL and Oracle. If you are interested just check this demo on GitHub.

Each SQL-Syntax teats parameter a bit different, so make sure you use the correct syntax for your target database.

Bottom line

Accessing a Oracle database from .NET doesn’t need to be a pain nowadays.

Be aware that the ODP.NET provider might surface higher level APIs to work with Oracle databases. The dbProviderfactory-approach helped us for our simple “just load some data”-scenario.

Hope this helps.

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