What are the advantages and drawbacks of using ADO.NET?

ADO.NET is rich with plenty of features that are bound to impress even the most skeptical of programmers. If this weren’t the case, Microsoft wouldn’t even be able to get anyone to use the Beta. What we’ve done here is come up with a short list of some of the more outstanding benefits to using the ADO.NET architecture and the System.Data namespace.

  • Performance – there is no doubt that ADO.NET is extremely fast. The actual figures vary depending on who performed the test and which benchmark was being used, but ADO.NET performs much, much faster at the same tasks than its predecessor, ADO.
  • Optimized SQL Provider – in addition to performing well under general circumstances, ADO.NET includes a SQL Server Data Provider that is highly optimized for interaction with SQL Server. It uses SQL Server’s own TDS (Tabular Data Stream) format for exchanging information. Without question, your SQL Server 7 and above data access
    operations will run blazingly fast utilizing this optimized Data Provider.
  • XML Support (and Reliance) – everything you do in ADO.NET at some point will boil down to the use of XML. In fact, many of the classes in ADO.NET, such as the DataSet, are so intertwined with XML that they simply cannot exist or function without utilizing the technology. You’ll see later when we compare and contrast the “old” and the “new” why the reliance on XML for internal storage provides many, many advantages, both to the framework and to the programmer utilizing the class library.
    Hard as it may be to believe, there are a couple of drawbacks or disadvantages to using the ADO.NET architecture. I’m sure others can find many more faults than we list here, but we decided to stick with a short list of some of the more obvious and important shortcomings of the technology.
  • Managed-Only Access – for a few obvious reasons, and some far more technical, you cannot utilize the ADO.NET architecture from anything but managed code. This means that there is no COM interoperability allowed for ADO.NET. Therefore, in order to take advantage of the advanced SQL Server Data Provider and any other feature like DataSets, XML internal data storage, etc, your code must be running under the CLR.
  • Only Three Managed Data Providers (so far) – unfortunately, if you need to access any data that requires a driver that cannot be used through either an OLEDB provider or the SQL Server Data Provider, then you may be out of luck. However, the good news is that the OLEDB provider for ODBC is available for download from Microsoft. At that point the down-side becomes one of performance, in which you are invoking multiple layers of abstraction as well as crossing the COM InterOp gap, incurring some initial overhead as well.
  • Learning Curve – despite the misleading name, ADO.NET is not simply a new version of ADO, nor should it even be considered a direct successor. ADO.NET should be thought of more as the data access class library for use with the .NET framework. The difficulty in learning to use ADO.NET to its fullest is that a lot of it does seem familiar. It is this that causes some common pitfalls. Programmers need to learn that even though some syntax may appear the same, there is actually a considerable amount of difference in the internal workings of many classes. For example (this will be discussed in far more detail later), an ADO.NET DataSet is nothing at all like a disconnected ADO RecordSet. Some may consider a learning curve a drawback, but I consider learning curves more like scheduling issues.There’s
    a learning curve in learning anything new; it’s just up to you to schedule that curve into your time so that you can learn the new technology at a pace that fits your schedule