In this article, we will learn how to use Entity Framework Core with the existing database or Database First approach. The EF core only supports Code First & Database First approach. In Database First, We use the
Scaffold-dbcontext to create the Model from an existing database. This is basically Reverse engineering the existing database. Once we create the entity classes databases first does not work. You will continue to work in the code first approach.
The source code of this project available in GitHub.
Table of Contents
- Create the .NET Console App
- Preparing for the Reverse engineering
- Existing Database
- Reverse engineering the model
- What if the database changes
- What if Model changes
Create the .NET Console App
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
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
- From the Package Manager Console of Visual Studio
- Using the Command line tool dotnet.exe
Using Package Manager Console
To Use the Package Manager Console, you need to install the Entity Framework Core Tools. Open the Package Manager and run the following command.
We use these tools 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.SqlServer
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.
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.|
-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
Or if you prefer DOT Net CLI use the following command
dotnet ef dbcontext scaffold Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer "Server=(localdb)\MSSQLLocalDB;Database=EFCoreMigration;Trusted_Connection=True;” -o Models
- The Context and models are created in the default project selected in the PMC.
Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Toolsmust be installed in the startup project.
- The solution must compile without any errors
As you can see the
- The models are created in the root folder. You can override it by specifying the
-OutputDiras shown in our example
- Creates one model class per table.
- No data annotations are applied to the models unless you specify the
- You can limit the tables to use using the
-Tablesargument and specifying the name of the tables separated by the comma.
- Similarly, you can restrict it to a certain schema using the
- The context class
EFCoreMigrationContextis created deriving from the
DBContext.The name of the context is
<DatabaseName>Context. You can change the name of the context class from the
- The Context class is created in the models folder. You can override it by specifying the
- The context class uses the namespace of the default project.
OnConfiguringmethod is created with connection hardcoded in it.
- Fluent API used in the
OnModelCreating()method of the
What if the 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
add-migrationto create the first migration
- Use the
script-migrationto 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 learned how to work with the existing database in EF Core, We use the scaffold-dbcontext to create the model classes from the existing database. Once we create the model classes, we can then use the normal ef core migration techniques to keep the database in sync with the model.