Upgrading applications from previous versions to EF Core 2.0

We have taken the opportunity to significantly refine our existing APIs and behaviors in 2.0. There are a few improvements that can require modifying existing application code, although we believe that for the majority of applications the impact will be low, in most cases requiring just recompilation and minimal guided changes to replace obsolete APIs.

Updating an existing application to EF Core 2.0 may require:

  1. Upgrading the target .NET implementation of the application to one that supports .NET Standard 2.0. See Supported .NET Implementations for more details.

  2. Identify a provider for the target database which is compatible with EF Core 2.0. See EF Core 2.0 requires a 2.0 database provider below.

  3. Upgrading all the EF Core packages (runtime and tooling) to 2.0. Refer to Installing EF Core for more details.

  4. Make any necessary code changes to compensate for the breaking changes described in the rest of this document.

ASP.NET Core now includes EF Core

Applications targeting ASP.NET Core 2.0 can use EF Core 2.0 without additional dependencies besides third party database providers. However, applications targeting previous versions of ASP.NET Core need to upgrade to ASP.NET Core 2.0 in order to use EF Core 2.0. For more details on upgrading ASP.NET Core applications to 2.0 see the ASP.NET Core documentation on the subject.

New way of getting application services in ASP.NET Core

The recommended pattern for ASP.NET Core web applications has been updated for 2.0 in a way that broke the design-time logic EF Core used in 1.x. Previously at design-time, EF Core would try to invoke Startup.ConfigureServices directly in order to access the application's service provider. In ASP.NET Core 2.0, Configuration is initialized outside of the Startup class. Applications using EF Core typically access their connection string from Configuration, so Startup by itself is no longer sufficient. If you upgrade an ASP.NET Core 1.x application, you may receive the following error when using the EF Core tools.

No parameterless constructor was found on 'ApplicationContext'. Either add a parameterless constructor to 'ApplicationContext' or add an implementation of 'IDesignTimeDbContextFactory<ApplicationContext>' in the same assembly as 'ApplicationContext'

A new design-time hook has been added in ASP.NET Core 2.0's default template. The static Program.BuildWebHost method enables EF Core to access the application's service provider at design time. If you are upgrading an ASP.NET Core 1.x application, you will need to update the Program class to resemble the following.

using Microsoft.AspNetCore;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Hosting;

namespace AspNetCoreDotNetCore2._0App
    public class Program
        public static void Main(string[] args)

        public static IWebHost BuildWebHost(string[] args) =>

The adoption of this new pattern when updating applications to 2.0 is highly recommended and is required in order for product features like Entity Framework Core Migrations to work. The other common alternative is to implement IDesignTimeDbContextFactory<TContext>.

IDbContextFactory renamed

In order to support diverse application patterns and give users more control over how their DbContext is used at design time, we have, in the past, provided the IDbContextFactory<TContext> interface. At design-time, the EF Core tools will discover implementations of this interface in your project and use it to create DbContext objects.

This interface had a very general name which mislead some users to try re-using it for other DbContext-creating scenarios. They were caught off guard when the EF Tools then tried to use their implementation at design-time and caused commands like Update-Database or dotnet ef database update to fail.

In order to communicate the strong design-time semantics of this interface, we have renamed it to IDesignTimeDbContextFactory<TContext>.

For the 2.0 release the IDbContextFactory<TContext> still exists but is marked as obsolete.

DbContextFactoryOptions removed

Because of the ASP.NET Core 2.0 changes described above, we found that DbContextFactoryOptions was no longer needed on the new IDesignTimeDbContextFactory<TContext> interface. Here are the alternatives you should be using instead.

DbContextFactoryOptions Alternative
ApplicationBasePath AppContext.BaseDirectory
ContentRootPath Directory.GetCurrentDirectory()
EnvironmentName Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("ASPNETCORE_ENVIRONMENT")

Design-time working directory changed

The ASP.NET Core 2.0 changes also required the working directory used by dotnet ef to align with the working directory used by Visual Studio when running your application. One observable side effect of this is that SQLite filenames are now relative to the project directory and not the output directory like they used to be.

EF Core 2.0 requires a 2.0 database provider

For EF Core 2.0 we have made many simplifications and improvements in the way database providers work. This means that 1.0.x and 1.1.x providers will not work with EF Core 2.0.

The SQL Server and SQLite providers are shipped by the EF team and 2.0 versions will be available as part of the 2.0 release. The open-source third party providers for SQL Compact, PostgreSQL, and MySQL are being updated for 2.0. For all other providers, please contact the provider writer.

Logging and Diagnostics events have changed

Note: these changes should not impact most application code.

The event IDs for messages sent to an ILogger have changed in 2.0. The event IDs are now unique across EF Core code. These messages now also follow the standard pattern for structured logging used by, for example, MVC.

Logger categories have also changed. There is now a well-known set of categories accessed through DbLoggerCategory.

DiagnosticSource events now use the same event ID names as the corresponding ILogger messages. The event payloads are all nominal types derived from EventData.

Event IDs, payload types, and categories are documented in the CoreEventId and the RelationalEventId classes.

IDs have also moved from Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Infrastructure to the new Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Diagnostics namespace.

EF Core relational metadata API changes

EF Core 2.0 will now build a different IModel for each different provider being used. This is usually transparent to the application. This has facilitated a simplification of lower-level metadata APIs such that any access to common relational metadata concepts is always made through a call to .Relational instead of .SqlServer, .Sqlite, etc. For example, 1.1.x code like this:

var tableName = context.Model.FindEntityType(typeof(User)).SqlServer().TableName;

Should now be written like this:

var tableName = context.Model.FindEntityType(typeof(User)).Relational().TableName;

Instead of using methods like ForSqlServerToTable, extension methods are now available to write conditional code based on the current provider in use. For example:

    Database.IsSqlServer() ? "SqlServerName" : "OtherName");

Note that this change only applies to APIs/metadata that is defined for all relational providers. The API and metadata remains the same when it is specific to only a single provider. For example, clustered indexes are specific to SQL Sever, so ForSqlServerIsClustered and .SqlServer().IsClustered() must still be used.

Don’t take control of the EF service provider

EF Core uses an internal IServiceProvider (a dependency injection container) for its internal implementation. Applications should allow EF Core to create and manage this provider except in special cases. Strongly consider removing any calls to UseInternalServiceProvider. If an application does need to call UseInternalServiceProvider, then please consider filing an issue so we can investigate other ways to handle your scenario.

Calling AddEntityFramework, AddEntityFrameworkSqlServer, etc. is not required by application code unless UseInternalServiceProvider is also called. Remove any existing calls to AddEntityFramework or AddEntityFrameworkSqlServer, etc. AddDbContext should still be used in the same way as before.

In-memory databases must be named

The global unnamed in-memory database has been removed and instead all in-memory databases must be named. For example:


This creates/uses a database with the name “MyDatabase”. If UseInMemoryDatabase is called again with the same name, then the same in-memory database will be used, allowing it to be shared by multiple context instances.

Read-only API changes

IsReadOnlyBeforeSave, IsReadOnlyAfterSave, and IsStoreGeneratedAlways have been obsoleted and replaced with BeforeSaveBehavior and AfterSaveBehavior. These behaviors apply to any property (not only store-generated properties) and determine how the value of the property should be used when inserting into a database row (BeforeSaveBehavior) or when updating an existing database row (AfterSaveBehavior).

Properties marked as ValueGenerated.OnAddOrUpdate (for example, for computed columns) will by default ignore any value currently set on the property. This means that a store-generated value will always be obtained regardless of whether any value has been set or modified on the tracked entity. This can be changed by setting a different Before\AfterSaveBehavior.

New ClientSetNull delete behavior

In previous releases, DeleteBehavior.Restrict had a behavior for entities tracked by the context that more closed matched SetNull semantics. In EF Core 2.0, a new ClientSetNull behavior has been introduced as the default for optional relationships. This behavior has SetNull semantics for tracked entities and Restrict behavior for databases created using EF Core. In our experience, these are the most expected/useful behaviors for tracked entities and the database. DeleteBehavior.Restrict is now honored for tracked entities when set for optional relationships.

Provider design-time packages removed

The Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Relational.Design package has been removed. It's contents were consolidated into Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Relational and Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design.

This propagates into the provider design-time packages. Those packages (Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Sqlite.Design, Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer.Design, etc.) were removed and their contents consolidated into the main provider packages.

To enable Scaffold-DbContext or dotnet ef dbcontext scaffold in EF Core 2.0, you only need to reference the single provider package:

<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.SqlServer"
    Version="2.0.0" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools"
    PrivateAssets="All" />
<DotNetCliToolReference Include="Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools.DotNet"
    Version="2.0.0" />