EF Core Explained: Your Comprehensive Guide to Entity Framework Core

Introduction to Entity Framework Core

Introduction to Entity Framework Core

Entity Framework Core (EF Core) is an open-source Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) framework for .NET applications that offers robustness. In modern application development, data is crucial for decision-making, user experience, and business processes. Efficiently managing this data is paramount. EF Core simplifies data manipulation, making it an invaluable tool for developers who need to bridge the gap between complex database structures and business entities in their code.

EF Core is not just about mapping database tables to classes in your code; it’s about doing so in a way that is efficient, flexible, and maintainable. With its lightweight and extensible nature, EF Core is perfect for applications ranging from simple web applications to complex enterprise-level systems. Whether you are a seasoned developer or just starting, understanding EF Core is crucial in the modern development landscape.

This post will explore Entity Framework Core, covering its architecture, components, examples, and best practices. The goal is to provide a solid foundation and practical knowledge for leveraging EF Core in projects. Let’s begin the journey to mastering Entity Framework Core!

Overview of Entity Framework Core

What is Entity Framework Core?

Entity Framework Core, commonly referred to as EF Core, is the latest version of Entity Framework, Microsoft’s flagship ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) framework. It’s a lightweight, extensible, and cross-platform version of Entity Framework, designed to work with .NET Core applications. EF Core acts as a mediator between your application’s business entities (C# classes) and the database. This allows you to perform database operations using strongly typed C# objects, without the need to write complex SQL queries.

History and Evolution

The journey of Entity Framework started with its first release as part of .NET Framework 3.5. Over the years, it evolved significantly, with each iteration bringing enhancements, performance improvements, and new features. Entity Framework Core is a complete rewrite of Entity Framework, designed to be more modular, lightweight, and performance-driven. Its creation represented a major change in the .NET ecosystem, in line with the objectives of .NET Core to offer a contemporary, cross-platform framework for web, cloud, and mobile applications.

Key Features and Capabilities

Entity Framework Core has many features that make it an excellent choice for developers:

  1. LINQ Queries: EF Core utilizes LINQ (Language Integrated Query) to enable developers to write database queries using C# syntax. This not only makes the code more readable and maintainable but also provides compile-time checking.
  2. Change Tracking: EF Core keeps track of changes made to the entities during the lifecycle of a context. This allows it to send appropriate insert, update, or delete commands to the database when you call the SaveChanges() method.
  3. Migrations: EF Core Migration allows developers to version their database schema by preserving data. You can easily add, modify, or rollback database changes using simple commands.
  4. Database Providers: EF Core supports a wide range of database providers, allowing it to work with SQL Server, SQLite, PostgreSQL, and more. This makes EF Core versatile and adaptable to different database systems.
  5. Performance: Being lightweight and highly optimized for performance, EF Core ensures your applications run efficiently, even in demanding environments.
  6. Modularity and Extensibility: EF Core’s modular design allows you to use only what you need, keeping your applications lean. Additionally, you can extend its functionality or customize its behavior to fit your specific needs.

Entity Framework Core is a powerful tool for managing database operations in .NET applications. Its ability to work with different database systems and its robust feature set make it a top choice for developers who want to leverage the power of data in their applications.

Advantages of EF Core over Other ORM Tools

ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) tools are essential in modern application development as they provide a bridge between the object-oriented application world and the relational database world. Entity Framework Core is a standout ORM tool due to its unique features, performance optimizations, and integration with the .NET ecosystem. This section will explore how Entiry Framework Core differentiates itself from other ORM tools.

Seamless Integration with .NET

EF Core is not just another ORM; it’s an ORM specifically designed for the .NET ecosystem. This means it offers seamless integration with other .NET features and libraries, providing a cohesive and well-supported development experience. Whether you’re working on a web application with ASP.NET Core or a desktop application with WPF or WinForms, EF Core fits right in, enabling you to work with database data more naturally in your .NET applications.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

One of the standout features of EF Core is its cross-platform nature. Unlike some other ORM tools that are limited to specific platforms or database systems, EF Core works across Windows, Linux, and macOS. This makes it an ideal choice for teams aiming to build and deploy applications on multiple platforms.

High Performance

Performance is a critical factor when choosing an ORM tool. EF Core has been designed with performance in mind. It’s lighter and faster than its predecessor, Entity Framework, and many other ORM tools. With features like batch updates, no-tracking queries, and efficient change tracking, EF Core ensures your applications run efficiently, even under heavy data loads.

Advanced Migrations and Schema Management

Entiry Framework Core takes database schema management to the next level with its advanced migration features. You can easily version your database schema, apply incremental changes, and roll back to previous states if needed. This level of control is invaluable in continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) environments and when working with complex database schemas.

Extensive Database Provider Support

Entiry Framework Core supports a wide array of database providers, from the ubiquitous SQL Server and MySQL to PostgreSQL and SQLite, among others. This extensive support ensures that developers are not locked into a specific database technology and can choose the one that best fits their application’s needs.

Powerful Query Capabilities with LINQ

Entiry Framework Core leverages the power of LINQ (Language Integrated Query) to enable developers to write database queries using C# syntax. This not only makes the code more readable and maintainable but also provides compile-time checking, reducing the risk of runtime errors.

Active Community and Support

Being an open-source project under the .NET Foundation, EF Core benefits from a vibrant and active community. Regular updates, extensive documentation, and a large number of community-contributed extensions and tools make EF Core a well-supported ORM choice.

EF Core’s integration with the .NET ecosystem, its performance, and its flexibility make it a compelling choice over other ORM tools. In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into the architecture and components of Entity Framework Core, providing a solid foundation for understanding how it works and how you can leverage its capabilities in your applications.

Basic Architecture and Components of EF Core

Understanding the architecture and primary components of Entity Framework Core is essential for effectively leveraging its capabilities. Entiry Framework Core is designed around some key components that work together to facilitate the mapping of business domain classes to database schemas, handling CRUD operations seamlessly, and much more. Let’s delve into the basic architecture and components that make Entiry Framework Core a flexible and powerful ORM tool.


The DbContext class is at the heart of Entity Framework Core. It represents a session with the database, allowing you to query and save instances of your entities. DbContext is responsible for managing database connections and is used to configure the model and query the database. When you perform any CRUD operation, it’s DbContext that translates your LINQ queries into SQL queries and sends them to the database.


DbSet represents a collection of entities of a specific type – essentially, a table in the database. When you’re working with an instance of DbContext, you use DbSet to query and save instances of your entities. EF Core manages the CRUD operations you perform on the entities in the DbSet, translating your operations into the appropriate database commands.


In EF Core, the model includes the classes that represent the data you’re working with. EF Core builds a model based on the shape of your entity classes, the configuration you provide, and the database schema it is mapped to. This model includes information about the entity types, their relationships, and how they map to the database schema.

Query Processing

Entity Framework Core converts LINQ queries against the DbSet into database-specific query languages (like SQL for a relational database). It has a sophisticated query processor that optimizes your queries for the best possible performance.

Change Tracking

Entity Framework Core automatically keeps track of changes to instances of your entities. This feature is crucial for the DbContext to know which operations to send to the database during the SaveChanges() operation. Change tracking ensures that only the necessary updates (inserts, updates, or deletes) are sent to the database, optimizing performance and ensuring data integrity.


Migrations are a set of tools that allow you to evolve your database schema over time. Instead of manually writing SQL scripts, you can use migrations to add, modify, or drop database objects. Migrations give you the ability to version your database schema along with your codebase.

Database Providers

Entiry Framework Core is designed to work with various database systems using an extensible provider model. A provider is a set of components that EF Core uses to interact with a specific database system, such as SQL Server, SQLite, or PostgreSQL. Providers implement database-specific behavior, including translating queries to the database’s SQL dialect and implementing specific database functionality.

This modular and extensible architecture makes EF Core a versatile and powerful tool for managing data in .NET applications. Whether you’re working with a SQL-based database or a NoSQL database, EF Core provides a consistent, high-level API for managing your data, so you can focus on your application code, not the intricacies of the database.

Hands-on Examples Using EF Core

After setting up your environment and defining your entities and DbContext, it’s time to get hands-on with Entiry Framework Core. In this section, we’ll go through some basic examples of performing CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations and querying the database using LINQ. These examples will give you a practical understanding of how to work with Entiry Framework Core in your .NET applications.

Creating Records (Create Operation)

To create a new record in the database, you simply create a new instance of your entity class, add it to the DbSet, and call the SaveChanges() method on your context. Here’s an example of creating a new blog:

using (var context = new BloggingContext())
    var blog = new Blog { Url = "https://amarozka.dev" };

Reading Records (Read Operation)

To retrieve records from the database, you can use LINQ queries against your DbSet properties. Entiry Framework Core translates these queries into the appropriate database queries. Here’s how you can retrieve all blogs from the database:

using (var context = new BloggingContext())
    var blogs = context.Blogs.ToList();
    foreach (var blog in blogs)

Updating Records (Update Operation)

To update a record, you retrieve it from the database, modify its properties, and call SaveChanges(). Entiry Framework Core tracks these changes and updates the corresponding record in the database. Here’s an example of updating a blog’s URL:

using (var context = new BloggingContext())
    var blog = context.Blogs.First();
    blog.Url = "https://newblog.com";

Deleting Records (Delete Operation)

To delete a record, you retrieve it from the database, remove it from the DbSet, and call SaveChanges(). Here’s how you can delete a blog:

using (var context = new BloggingContext())
    var blog = context.Blogs.First();

Querying with LINQ

Entiry Framework Core supports using LINQ to query the database, providing a powerful and flexible way to retrieve data. Here’s an example of using LINQ to retrieve all posts from a specific blog:

using (var context = new BloggingContext())
    var posts = context.Posts
                       .Where(p => p.Blog.Url == "https://amarozka.dev")

    foreach (var post in posts)

These examples demonstrate how to perform CRUD operations and queries using EF Core. By utilizing LINQ and the tracking features of EF Core, you can interact with your database using high-level abstractions, resulting in more readable, maintainable, and robust code.

Best Practices and Tips for Using EF Core

Working with Entiry Framework Core can greatly simplify data access in your applications, but it’s essential to use it wisely to ensure optimal performance and maintainability. In this section, we’ll go over some best practices and tips that can help you make the most out of EF Core.

Use Lazy Loading Judiciously

Entiry Framework Core supports lazy loading, which defers the loading of related data until it’s actually needed. While this can be convenient, it can also lead to performance issues if not used carefully. Excessive lazy loading can result in the “N+1 query problem,” where too many queries are sent to the database. Evaluate your data access patterns and use eager loading (.Include()) or explicit loading (.Load()) when appropriate to load related data in a single query.

Opt for No-Tracking Queries When Possible

EF Core provides change tracking for entities retrieved from the database, which is great for CRUD operations. However, if you’re only reading data and not updating it, consider using no-tracking queries (AsNoTracking()) to improve performance, as EF Core won’t need to set up change tracking for the entities.

Use Model Validation

Leverage EF Core’s built-in model validation to ensure that data integrity is maintained. Define constraints and validation rules in your model to prevent invalid data from being saved to the database.

Plan for Concurrency Conflicts

Concurrency conflicts can occur when multiple processes try to update the same record simultaneously. EF Core provides mechanisms to handle these conflicts gracefully. Use concurrency tokens (e.g., RowVersion or Timestamp) and handle DbUpdateConcurrencyException to ensure that your application can resolve these conflicts.

Optimize Your Queries

Be mindful of the queries generated by EF Core. Use tools like SQL Server Profiler or the logging features in EF Core to review the generated SQL. Ensure that your LINQ queries are translated into efficient SQL queries, and consider using raw SQL queries (FromSqlRaw) for complex queries that are not easily expressed or optimized in LINQ.

Regularly Review and Update Migrations

Keep your database schema in sync with your model by regularly generating and reviewing migrations. Before applying migrations to production databases, review the generated SQL to ensure it’s optimized and aligns with your expectations.

Dispose of Contexts Properly

DbContext is a lightweight object, but it’s still important to dispose of it properly to free up resources. Use dependency injection and the using statement to ensure that instances of DbContext are disposed of correctly after use.

By following these best practices and tips, you can ensure that your use of Entiry Framework Core is efficient, maintainable, and robust. Remember, while Entiry Framework Core simplifies data access, it’s still crucial to have a good understanding of its workings and the underlying database to make the most out of it.


This guide covers the fundamental aspects of Entity Framework Core, including its architecture, advantages, and how it is an efficient tool for .NET developers. You have seen how Entiry Framework Core simplifies data management, allowing you to focus on crafting the business logic of your applications rather than the underlying data access code. From setting up your environment to performing CRUD operations and querying with LINQ, this technology streamlines the process.

As you use EF Core, remember to not only understand its functionalities but also embrace best practices and adapt to its evolutions. Technology is ever-changing, and EF Core is continuously improving to offer more features, better performance, and a more developer-friendly experience.

I encourage you to further explore Entiry Framework Core, experiment with its features, and integrate it into your projects. Learning and development are continuous journeys, and with tools like Entiry Framework Core, they can be immensely rewarding.

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