How Do I Store and Access My Connection Strings in ASP.NET 2?

With ASP.NET 1.0 and 1.1 many people stored their connection strings in the Web.config file under the appSettings element. But is there a better way to save these settings in ASP.NET 2.0?

Yes, there is. ASP.NET 2.0 has a new ConnectionStringSettingsCollection called ConnectionStrings that provides easy access to your connection strings that you store in your Web.config file. All you need to do is add a <connectionStrings> element to your configuration file. To this element you can add your connection strings by adding <add> elements. You use the name attribute of the <add> element to specify the name by which you can retrieve the connection string in your code. You use the connectionString attribute to specify the connection string. Note that both attributes are case-sensitive. You should end up with the following <connectionStrings> element in your configuration file:

    <add name="YourConnectionName"
       connectionString="Integrated Security=SSPI;
          Persist Security Info=False;Initial Catalog=YourDatabase;
          Data Source=YourSQLServer"
       providerName="System.Data.SqlClient" />

Once you have added the connection string to your configuration file, you can retrieve it with the following code:

string MyConnectionString =

At this point, MyConnectionString holds the connection string you defined in your configuration file.

The good thing about a separate <connectionStrings> element is that other config sections, like special Providers, can refer to those settings by the name of the connection string, instead of duplicating the connection string. You can retrieve more information about the connection besides the connection string. If you provide a providerName (as in the sample Web.config above) you can retrieve the providers's name in code as well. This can be useful if you're working with the new factory model in your data access layer and need to know with which data provider you're currently working.

Where to Next?

Wonder where to go next? You can post a comment on this article.

Doc ID 250
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Written by Imar Spaanjaars
Date Posted 02/19/2004 11:13
Date Last Updated 02/28/2006 19:16
Date Last Reviewed 12/06/2006 15:33


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