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.NET 4 ships with a new and much improved version of Entity Framework (EF) - a data access and OR/M library that lives within the System.Data.Entity namespace.
When Entity Framework was first introduced with .NET 3.5 SP1, developers provided a lot of feedback on things they thought were missing or incomplete with that first release. The SQL team did a good job of listening to this feedback, and really focused the EF that ships with .NET 4 on addressing it. Some of the big improvements in EF4 include:
* POCO Support: You can now define entities without requiring base classes or data persistence attributes.
* Lazy Loading Support: You can now load sub-objects of a model on demand instead of loading them up front.
* N-Tier Support and Self-Tracking Entities: Handle scenarios where entities flow across tiers or stateless web calls.
* Better SQL Generation and SPROC support: EF4 executes better SQL, and includes better integration with SPROCs
* Automatic Pluralization Support: EF4 includes automatic pluralization support of tables (e.g. Categories->Category).
* Improved Testability: EF4's object context can now be more easily faked using interfaces.
* Improved LINQ Operator Support: EF4 now offers full support for LINQ operators.