Tutorial: Build an Entity Linking app with C#

Microsoft's Entity Linking is a natural language processing tool to analyze text and link named-entities to relevant entries in a knowledge base.

This tutorial explores entity linking by using the Entity Linking Client Library as a NuGet package.


  • Visual Studio 2015
  • A Microsoft Cognitive Services API Key
  • Get the client library and example
  • Microsoft Entity Linking NuGet Package

You may download the Entity Linking Intelligence Service API Client Library via SDK. The downloaded zip file needs to be extracted to a folder of your choice, many users choose the Visual Studio 2015 folder.

Step 1: Subscribe to Entity Linking Intelligence Service and get your key

Before using Entity Linking Intelligence Service, you must sign up for an API key. See Subscriptions. Both the primary and secondary key can be used in this tutorial.

Step 2: Create a new project in Visual Studio

Let’s start by creating a new project in Visual Studio. First, launch Visual Studio 2015 from the Start Menu. Then, create a new project by selecting Installed → Templates → Visual C# → Windows Universal → Blank App for your project template:

Createa universal app

Step 3: Add the Entity Linking NuGet Package to your project

Entity Linking of Cognitive Services is released as a NuGet.org package and needs to be installed before you can use it. To add it to your project, go to the Solution Explorer tab, right click your project, and select Manage Nuget Packages.

First, in the NuGet Package Manager window, select NuGet.org as your Package Source in the upper right corner. Select Browse in the upper left corner and in the search box type “ProjectOxford.EntityLinking”. Select the Microsoft.ProjectOxford.EntityLinking NuGet package and click Install.

Next, search for Newtonsoft.Json and install. If you are prompted to review changes, click OK. If you are presented with the EntityLinking license terms, click I Accept.

Entity Linking is now installed as part of your application. You can confirm this by checking that the** Microsoft.ProjectOxford.EntityLinking** reference is present as part of your project in Solution Explorer.

Included nuget library in project

Step 4: Add an input and output text block to your app’s XAML

Navigate to MainPage.xaml in Solution Explorer, then double click the file which will open it in a new window. For convenience, you can double click on the XAML button in the Designer tab, this will hide the Visual Designer and reserve all of the space for the code view.

Included nuget library in project

As a text service, the best way to visualize the functionality is creating an input and an output text block. To do this, add the following XAML in the Grid. This code adds three components, an input text box, an output text block, and a start button.

<Grid Background="{ThemeResource ApplicationPageBackgroundThemeBrush}">
       <RowDefinition Height="*"/>
       <RowDefinition Height="*" />
       <RowDefinition Height="50" />
   <TextBox x:Name="inputBox" Grid.Row="0" TextWrapping="Wrap" Text="Enter a paragraph" Margin="10" AcceptsReturn="True" />
   <TextBlock x:Name="outputBlock" Grid.Row="1" TextWrapping="Wrap" Text="Result will be here" Margin="10" />
   <Button x:Name="button" Grid.Row="2" Content="Get Result" />

Step 5: Proceed to add Entity Linking Intelligence Service

The user interface is now created. Before using the Entity Linking service, we need to add the button-Click handler. Open MainPage.xaml from Solution Explorer. Add a button_Click handler in the end of the button.

<Button x:Name="button" Grid.Row="2" Content="Get Result" Click="button_Click" />

A button-Click handler needs to be implemented in the code. Open MainPage.xaml.cs from Solution Explorer to implement the button-Click. The EntityLinkingServiceClient is a wrapper to retrieve Entity Linking responses. The constructor argument of EntityLinkingServiceClient is the Cognitive Services subscription key. Paste in the subscription key you got in Step 1 to call the Entity Linking service.

Below is example code, which adds the "wikipediaId" to the response by using Entity Linking Service.

private async void button_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
   var text = this.inputBox.Text;
   var client = new EntityLinkingServiceClient("Your subscription key","https://api.labs.cognitive.microsoft.com");
   var linkResponse = await client.LinkAsync(text);
   var result = string.Join(", ", linkResponse.Select(i => i.WikipediaID).ToList());
   this.outputBlock.Text = result;

Now you are ready to run your first natural language processing Entity Linking App. Press the F5 key to compile and launch the application. Paste text snippets or paragraphs into the input box. Press the "Get Result" button and observe the identified entities in the output block.

UWP Sample result


In this tutorial you’ve learned how to create an application to leverage Entity Linking Intelligence Service Client Library with just a few lines of C# and XAML code.