Transactions in .net
There are 2 main kinds of transactions; connection transactions and ambient transactions. A connection transaction (such as SqlTransaction) is tied directly to the db connection (such as SqlConnection), which means that you have to keep passing the connection around - OK in some cases, but doesn't allow "create/use/release" usage, and doesn't allow cross-db work. An example (formatted for space):
Not too messy, but limited to our connection "conn". If we want to call out to different methods, we now need to pass "conn" around.
The alternative is an ambient transaction; new in .NET 2.0, the TransactionScope object (System.Transactions.dll) allows use over a range of operations (suitable providers will automatically enlist in the ambient transaction). This makes it easy to retro-fit into existing (non-transactional) code, and to talk to multiple providers (although DTC will get involved if you talk to more than one).
Note here that the two methods can handle their own connections (open/use/close/dispose), yet they will silently become part of the ambient transaction
without us having to pass anything in.
If your code errors, Dispose() will be called without Complete(), so it will be rolled back. The expected nesting etc is supported, although you can't roll-back an inner transaction yet complete the outer transaction: if anybody is unhappy, the transaction is aborted.
The other advantage of TransactionScope is that it isn't tied just to databases; any transaction-aware provider can use it. WCF, for example. Or there are even some TransactionScope-compatible object models around (i.e. NET classes with rollback capability - perhaps easier than a memento, although I've never used this approach myself).
All in all, a very, very useful object.
- On SQL Server 2000, a TransactionScope will go to DTC immediately; this is fixed in SQL Server 2005 and above, it can use the LTM (much less overhead) until you talk to 2 sources etc, when it is elevated to DTC.
- There is a glitch that means you might need to tweak your connection string