In this article, we will learn how to use Entity Framework core with existing database or Database First approach. The Entity Framework only supports code first & Database first approach. In Database First, we use scaffolding to create the Model for an Existing Database. This process is also called as the Reverse engineering the existing database. Once the entity classes are created both databases first & code the first approach works in the same way Database First Approach
We learnt how to create a simple Entity framework core console application. We created the entity. We also learnt how to create model classes and use ef core migrations to create & update the database.
You will work with the new database only if you are working with a new project. In most of the scenarios, you may have to start with an existing database. You can use the Scaffold-dbcontext quickly create the models from the existing database
In this article
- Creating the .NET Console App
- Preparing for the Reverse engineering
- Existing Database
- Reverse engineering the model
- What is database changes
- What if Model changes
Creating the .NET Console App
Let us create the .NET Console App. You can also create the ASP.NET Core Web application
- Open Visual Studio 2017.
- Click on File -> New -> Project to open the New Project form
- Select Visual C# -> .NET Core -> Console App (.NET Core)
- Name the App as EFDBFirst
- Click OK to create the Application
Adding Required Libraries
Preparing for the Reverse engineering
There are two ways by which you can create the models from the existing database
- Using Package Manager Console of Visual Studio
- Using Command line tools dotnet.exe
Using Package Manager Console
To Use Package Manager Console, you need to install the Entity Framework Core Tools. Open the Package Manager and run the following command.
These tools are used inside the Visual Studio NuGet Package manager console.
Installing the above package also installs the Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design package. This package actually contains the command to scaffold an existing database by reverse engineering the schema of a database.
In ASP.NET Core 2.1 and above, these packages are automatically included by the Visual Studio 2017, when creating the project.
Using Command Line Tools
The Command line tools run from the command line does not require the Visual Studio. If you are not using windows OS, then using the command line tools is the only option available to you.
NET Core SDK version 2.1.300 and newer
If you are using the .NET Core SDK version 2.1.300 or newer you do not have to do anything. The tools have become part of the SDK. You can download the SDK from the link
To Tools to work correctly you need to install the Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design package. Goto to the solution directory and run the following command to install
dotnet add package Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design
You can use any database you like. We will use the EFCoreMigration database, which we created in the previous tutorial.
You can also download the adventureworks database from and use it.
The Scaffold-DbContext is the command is used to generate the model from the database. We need to pass the connection string & database provider to this command.
Parameters of the Scaffold-DbContext
|-Connection||Required. The connection string to the database.|
|-Provider||Required. The provider to use. (for example, Microsoft. EntityFrameworkCore. SqlServer|
|-OutputDir||The directory to put files in. Paths are relative to the project directory.|
|-ContextDir|| The directory to put DbContext file in. Paths are relative to the |
|-Context||The name of the DbContext to generate.|
|-Schemas||The schemas of tables to generate entity types for.|
|-Tables||The tables to generate entity types for.|
|-DataAnnotations||Use attributes to configure the model (where possible). If omitted, only the fluent API is used.|
|-UseDatabaseNames||Use table and column names directly from the database.|
|-Force||Overwrite existing files.|
Here the -Connection & -Provider are required.
Reverse engineering the model
Run the following command to generate the model. We are using -OutputDir to specify the directory for the model classes.
scaffold-dbcontext -provider Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer -connection "Server=(localdb)\MSSQLLocalDB;Database=EFCoreMigration;Trusted_Connection=True;” -OutputDir Models
The Context and models are created in the default project selected in the PMC Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools must be installed in the startup project Solution must compile without any errors
As you can see the scaffold-dbcontext
- The models are generated in the root folder. You can override it by specifying the -OutputDir as shown in our example
- Creates one model class per table.
- No data annotations are applied to the models unless you specify the -DataAnnotations argument.
- You can limit the tables to use using the -Tables argument and specifying the name of the tables separated by the comma.
- Similarly, you can restrict it to the certain schema using the -Schema
- The context class EFCoreMigrationContext is created deriving from the DBContext. The name of the context is <DatabaseName>Context. You can change the name of the context class from the -Context argument
- The Context class is created in the models folder. You can override it by specifying the -ContextDir
- The context class uses the namespace of the default project.
- The OnConfiguring method is created with connection hardcoded in it.
- Fluent API used in the OnModelCreating() method of the DbContext class
What is database changes
The EF Core does not support updating the Model if the database changes. You have to delete the model and recreate it again
What if Model changes
You can run add-migration to create the migrations, but you won’t be able to run update-database as the tables already exist.
To enable our new model to work under migrations you need to follow these steps
- Create Models by reverse engineering the existing database as mentioned above
- Run add-migration to create the first migration
- Use the script-migration to create the script
- In the generated script look for the CREATE TABLE [__EFMigrationsHistory] query which is at the top of the script and run it against your DB to create the table in the database
- Next, find out the INSERT INTO [__EFMigrationsHistory] which are at the bottom of the script and run it against your DB
Now, you can update the model and create migrations as mentioned in the tutorial Migrations in EF Core
In this tutorial, we learnt how to work with the existing database in EF Core, The scaffold-dbcontext is used create the model classes from the existing database