Azure Storage Type Provider


Working with Tables

For more information on Tables in general, please see some of the many articles on MSDN or the Azure documentation. Some of the core features of the Tables provider are: -

Rapid navigation

You can easily move between tables within a storage account. Simply dotting into a Tables property will automatically retrieve the list of tables in the storage account. This allows easy exploration of your table assets, directly from within the REPL.

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let employeeTable = Azure.Tables.employee
printfn "The table is called '%s'." employeeTable.Name
The table is called 'employee'.

Automatic schema inference

Unlike some non-relational data stores, Azure Table Storage does maintain schema information at the row level in the form of EDM metadata. This can be interrogated in order to infer a table's shape, as well as help query data. Let's look at the schema of the row fred.1 in the employee table.

EDM Data Type

Value

Partition Key

string

fred

Row Key

string

1

Years Worked

int

10

Dob

datetime

01/05/1990

Name

string

fred

Salary

double

0

Is Manager

bool

true

Based on this EDM metadata, an appropriate .NET type can be generated and used within the provider.

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printfn "Fred has Partition Key of %s and Row Key of %s" fred.PartitionKey fred.RowKey
printfn "Fred has Name '%s', Years Working '%d', Dob '%O', Salary '%f' and Is Manager '%b'."
    fred.Name fred.YearsWorking fred.Dob fred.Salary fred.IsManager
Fred has Partition Key of men and Row Key of 1
Fred has Name 'fred', Years Working '10', Dob '01/05/1990 00:00:00', Salary '0.000000' and Is Manager 'true'.

Optional type generation

The Storage Type Provider will also intelligently map fields which are not always populated in the table. For example, given the following rows, we can see that two columns are not always populated.

Timestamp

Dob

IsManager

...

Salary

YearsWorking

IsAnimal

partition.1

25/08/2017 15:00:08 +00:00

01/05/1990 00:00:00

True

...

0

10

N/A

partition.2

25/08/2017 15:00:08 +00:00

01/05/1990 00:00:00

True

...

0

N/A

False

The type provider will correctly infer that YearsWorking and IsAnimal are optional fields are will cascade this to the type system

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Azure.Tables.optionals.Get(Row "1", Partition "partition")
|> Option.iter(fun row -> printfn "IsAnimal has a value: %b, YearsWorking value: %A" row.IsAnimal.IsSome row.YearsWorking)
IsAnimal has a value: false, YearsWorking value: Some 10

Of course, all other fields remain mandatory. This will also cascade to the provider constructor for the type - optional fields will become optional constructor arguments. The type provider will download the first 10 rows by default to infer schema for each table, but this can be increased during creation of the type provider. Obviously, a large sample increases the chance of the type provider correctly inferring option fields - but if you use a local development storage account for development purposes, you can probably manually generate a few rows to guide the inference system.

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/// Uses first twenty rows of each table for schema inference.
type FirstTwentyRows = AzureTypeProvider<"UseDevelopmentStorage=true", schemaSize = 20>

Data Frame interoperability

In addition, an extra "Values" property is available which exposes all properties on the entity in a key/value collection - this is useful for binding scenarios or e.g. mapping in Deedle frames.

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let frame =
    "women"
    |> employeeTable.GetPartition
    |> Frame.ofRecords
    |> Frame.expandCols [ "Values" ] // expand the "Values" nested column
    |> Frame.indexRowsUsing(fun c -> sprintf "%O.%O" c.["PartitionKey"] c.["RowKey"]) // Generate a useful row index
    |> Frame.dropCol "PartitionKey"
    |> Frame.dropCol "RowKey"
    |> fun f -> f |> Frame.indexColsWith (f.ColumnKeys |> Seq.map(fun c -> c.Replace("Values.", ""))) // rename columns to omit "Values."

Timestamp

Dob

IsManager

Name

Salary

YearsWorking

women.1

25/08/2017 15:00:08 +00:00

30/04/2005 00:00:00

True

sara

3.5

35

women.2

25/08/2017 15:00:08 +00:00

20/08/1965 00:00:00

False

rachel

5.5

20

Offline development

In addition to using the Azure Storage Emulator, you can also simply provide the type provider with a JSON file containing the list of tables and their schema. This is particularly useful within the context of a CI process, or when you know a specific "known good" structure of tables within a storage account.

Overview

You can still access blobs using the compile-time storage connection string if provided, or override as normal at runtime.

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type TableSchema = AzureTypeProvider<tableSchema = "TableSchema.json">

The contents of TableSchema.json looks as follows.

"{
    "Employee": {
        "Name": {
            "Type": "String"
        },
        "YearsWorking": {
            "Type": "int32"
        },
        "Dob": {
            "Type": "DateTime"
        },
        "Salary": {
            "Type": "double",
            "Optional": true
        },
        "IsManager": {
            "Type": "boolean",
            "Optional": true
        }
    }
}"

We can access the data just as normal - the only difference is that the schema is defined by the json file rather than inferred from a set of data.

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let staticFred = TableSchema.Tables.Employee.Get(Row "1", Partition "men").Value
printfn "Fred has Salary '%A', Is Manager '%A'." staticFred.Salary staticFred.IsManager
Fred has Salary 'Some 0.0', Is Manager 'Some true'.

Notice that both Salary and IsManager are rendered as option types, since we've explicitly marked them as such in the schema definition file. Compare this to the earlier sample, where the type provider inferred types based on the first n rows, where they were rendered as mandatory types.

Supported data types

The list of types available are limited by those supported by Azure Tables: -

Value in JSON config

EdmType.Binary

binary

EdmType.Boolean

boolean

EdmType.DateTime

datetime

EdmType.Double

double

EdmType.Guid

guid

EdmType.Int32

int32

EdmType.Int64

int64

EdmType.String

string

Querying data

The storage provider has an easy-to-use query API that is also flexble and powerful, and uses the inferred schema to generate the appropriate query functionality. Data can be queried in several ways, in both synchronous or asynchronous forms.

Key Lookups

These are the simplest (and best performing) queries, based on a partition / row key combination, returning an optional result. You can also retrieve an entire partition.

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let sara = employeeTable.Get(Row "1", Partition "women") // try to get a single row
let allWomen = employeeTable.GetPartition("women") // get all rows in the "women" partition
let allWomenAsync = employeeTable.GetPartitionAsync "women" |> Async.RunSynchronously // As above but async version

Plain Text Queries

If you need to search for a set of entities, you can enter a plain text search, either manually or using the Azure SDK query builder.

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// create the query string by hand
let someData = employeeTable.Query("YearsWorking eq 35")
printfn "The query returned %d rows." someData.Length

// generate a query string programmatically.
let filterQuery =
    TableQuery.GenerateFilterConditionForInt("YearsWorking", QueryComparisons.Equal, 35)
printfn "Generated query is '%s'" filterQuery
The query returned 2 rows.
Generated query is 'YearsWorking eq 35'

Query DSL

A third alternative to querying with the Azure SDK is to use the LINQ IQueryable implementation. This works in F# as well using the query { } computation expression. However, this implementation has two main limitations: - - You need to manually create a type to handle the result - IQueryable does not guarantee runtime safety for a query that compiles. This is particularly evident with the Azure Storage Tables, which allow a very limited set of queries.

The Table provider allows an alternative that has the same sort of composability of IQueryable, yet is strongly typed at compile- and runtime, whilst being extremely easy to use. It generates query methods appropriate for each property on the entity, including appropriate clauses e.g. Greater Than, Less Than etc. as supported by the Azure Storage Table service

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let tpQuery = employeeTable.Query().``Where Years Working Is``.``Equal To``(35)
["YearsWorking eq 35"]

These can be composed and chained. When you have completed building, simply call Execute().

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let longerQuery = employeeTable.Query()
                       .``Where Years Working Is``.``Greater Than``(14)
                       .``Where Name Is``.``Equal To``("Fred")
                       .``Where Is Manager Is``.True()
["IsManager eq true"; "Name eq 'Fred'"; "YearsWorking gt 14"]

Query operators are strongly typed, so Equal To on Years Working takes in an int, whereas on Name it takes in a string, whilst for booleans there is no such provided method.

Inserting data

Inserting data is extremely easy with Azure Type Provider. A table will always have an Insert method on it, with various overloads that will appear depending on whether the table has data in it (and thus a schema could be inferred) or is empty.

Inserting single records

If the table is newly-created (and has no existing data from which to infer schema), you can insert data by calling one of the two available Insert overloads. The first one takes a single PartitionKey, RowKey and any object. It will automatically generate the appropriate Azure Storage request for all public properties. Conversely, if the table exists and has schema associated with it, you can use a strongly-typed Insert method. You can also choose whether to insert or upsert (insert or update) data.

Both mechanisms will also return a TableResponse discriminated union on the outcome of the operation.

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type Person = { Name : string; City : string }
let emptyTable = Azure.Tables.emptytable

// insert a single row into an empty table
let response = emptyTable.Insert(Partition "Europe", Row "1", { Name = "Isaac"; City = "London" })
SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "Europe", Row "1"),204)
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let newEmployee =
    new Azure.Domain.employeeEntity(
        Partition "women", Row "3",
        Dob = DateTime(1979, 2, 12),
        IsManager = true,
        Name = "sophie",
        Salary = 123.,
        YearsWorking = 17)
let newEmployeeResponse = employeeTable.Insert(newEmployee)
SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "women", Row "3"),204)
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let upsertResponse = employeeTable.Insert(newEmployee, TableInsertMode.Upsert)
SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "women", Row "3"),204)

Inserting batches

The Storage provider makes it easier to insert large amounts of data by automatically grouping large datasets into the appropriate batches, which for Azure Tables have to be across the same partition and in sizes of up to 100 entities. You can insert batches for tables that either already have schema or do not.

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let people = [ Partition "Europe", Row "2", { Name = "Tony"; City = "Milan"}
               Partition "North America", Row "1", { Name = "Sally"; City = "New York"}
               Partition "North America", Row "2", { Name = "Tom"; City = "Chicago"}
               Partition "Europe", Row "3", { Name = "Dirk"; City = "Frankfurt"} ]

// results are grouped by the batch that they were inserted in.
let batchResults = emptyTable.Insert(people)
[|("Europe",
   [|SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "Europe", Row "3"),204);
     SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "Europe", Row "2"),204)|]);
  ("North America",
   [|SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "North America", Row "2"),204);
     SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "North America", Row "1"),204)|])|]

Deleting data

Deleting data is also extremely easy - simply supply the set of Partition / Row Key combinations that you wish to delete.

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let deleteResult = emptyTable.Delete [ for row in 1 .. 2 -> Partition "North America", Row (row.ToString()) ]
[|("North America",
   [|SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "North America", Row "2"),204);
     SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "North America", Row "1"),204)|])|]

Alternatively, you can delete an entire partition (although due to the limitations of the Table Storage service, this will require loading all row keys for that partition into memory).

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let deletePartitionResult = emptyTable.DeletePartition "Europe"
("Europe",
 [|SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "Europe", Row "3"),204);
   SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "Europe", Row "2"),204);
   SuccessfulResponse ((Partition "Europe", Row "1"),204)|])

Error handling

Operations should not raise exceptions. Instead, return codes of any write operations return a TableResponse. This contains the Partition and Row Keys of the affected row as well as the associated TableResult, wrapped in a discriminated union to allow easy matching.

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let handleResponse =
    function
    | SuccessfulResponse(entityId, errorCode) -> printfn "Entity %A succeeded: %d." entityId errorCode
    | EntityError(entityId, httpCode, errorCode) -> printfn "Entity %A failed: %d - %s." entityId httpCode errorCode
    | BatchOperationFailedError(entityId) -> printfn "Entity %A was ignored as part of a failed batch operation." entityId
    | BatchError(entityId, httpCode, errorCode) -> printfn "Entity %A failed with an unknown batch error: %d - %s." entityId httpCode errorCode
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// Insert an existing entity
employeeTable.Insert(newEmployee) |> handleResponse
Entity (Partition "women", Row "3") failed: 409 - EntityAlreadyExists.
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// Insert the same batch twice
emptyTable.Insert(people)
emptyTable.Insert(people) |> Seq.collect snd |> Seq.iter handleResponse
Entity (Partition "Europe", Row "3") failed: 409 - EntityAlreadyExists.
Entity (Partition "Europe", Row "2") was ignored as part of a failed batch operation.
Entity (Partition "North America", Row "2") failed: 409 - EntityAlreadyExists.
Entity (Partition "North America", Row "1") was ignored as part of a failed batch operation.
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// Delete a non-existant entity
emptyTable.Delete([ Partition "Foo", Row "Bar" ]) |> Seq.collect snd |> Seq.iter handleResponse
Entity (Partition "Foo", Row "Bar") failed: 404 - ResourceNotFound.
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