Add Entity Framework Core to an Existing Asp.Net Core Project

February 29, 2020

This is one of those posts born of the fact that I’m constantly googling this, and coming up with videos and Microsoft docs - I just want a single, quick step by step guide; so here it is.

Step One - NuGet packages

If you’re using SQL Server, then you’ll need these packages (technically, you only need the first, unless you want to actually create or run a migration yourself):

Install-Package Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer
Install-Package Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools

Step Two - Create DBContext (and entity classes if needed)

The minimum DBContext looks like this:

    public class MyDbContext : DbContext

        public MyDbContext(DbContextOptions<MyDbContext> options)
            : base(options)


        public DbSet<MyEntity> MyEntities { get; set; }
        public DbSet<MyOtherEntity> MyOtherEntities { get; set; }

You can feed your model directly into EF. That’s much easier to do than it used to be, for example, any field called Id will automatically be inferred to be a Primary Key; however, at some point, you’re going to want to do something data specific to your model, and at that point, you lose the separation between data and business layers. A nice way that I’ve found around this is to subclass your models:

    public class MyEntity : MyModel

Step Three - Startup.cs

You’ll need to register the DbContext in your DI pipeline:

        public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
            services.AddDbContext<MyDbContext>(a =>

Your connection string goes in appsettings.json:

  "Logging": {
    "LogLevel": {
      "Default": "Information",
      "Microsoft": "Warning",
      "Microsoft.Hosting.Lifetime": "Information"
  "AllowedHosts": "\*",
  "ConnectionStrings": {
    "SqlConnectionString": "Server=(localdb)\\\\mssqllocaldb;Database=MyDatabase;Trusted\_Connection=True;MultipleActiveResultSets=true"

Step Four - Migration

Since you’ve installed EF Tools, you can add a migration:

Add-Migration InitialMigration -StartupProject MySolution.MyProject

The other option is to switch on automatic migrations; although, I would personally advise against that, as you can quickly lose track of what it’s doing.

That’s it - once you run:


You should have a working EF instance.

Step Five (optional) - Auto-Migration

You may also wish to have the system upgrade itself to the latest version of the DB. Whether you choose to do this depends on exactly how much control you need over the changes to your DB. I’ve heard that some people create the migrations as SQL Scripts and hand them to a DBA.

Should you wish to have EF manage that for you, then you can do the following:

        public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IWebHostEnvironment env)
            if (env.IsDevelopment())


private void UpdateDatabase(IApplicationBuilder app)
            using var serviceScope = app.ApplicationServices

            using var context = serviceScope.ServiceProvider.GetService<CourseSelectDbContext>();


That’s it - now, next time I want to find this, I can search my own website!


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