The Definitive Guide to Learning ASP.NET Entity Framework

The Entity Framework is a collection of ADO.NET technologies that help in the building of data-driven software applications. Entity framework is an Object Relational Mapping (ORM) framework that provides developers with an automated system for storing and accessing data in a database. When dealing with data, developers can work at a higher degree of abstraction with the Entity Framework. When compared to traditional applications, you may use Entity Framework to design and maintain data-oriented apps with less code. This tutorial will give you an overview of the Entity framework.

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What is the ASP.NET Entity Framework?


Entity Framework (EF) is an object-relational mapper that allows.NET developers to work with relational data by utilising domain-specific objects. It eliminates the requirement for most data-access code that developers typically have to write.

Here are some of the key highlights of ASP.NET Entity Framework - 

  • It allows developers to work with data using objects of domain-specific classes instead of the underlying database tables and columns where the data is kept.
  • It handles database connections and command execution, as well as taking query results and automatically materializing them into application objects.
  • It also assists in keeping track of changes to those objects, and when directed, it will also persist those changes back to the database on your behalf.

Why Use ASP.NET Entity Framework?

You can write code against the Entity Framework, and the system will generate objects for you, track changes on those objects, and ease the database update process. As a result, the EF can replace a significant amount of code that you would otherwise have to build and maintain yourself.

Instead of writing code, the mapping between your items and your database is provided declaratively. If you need to update your database schema, you can reduce the impact on the code in your applications. It adds a layer of abstraction to the application, allowing it to be separated from the database.

The queries and other operations you write into your code are expressed in a non-database-specific syntax. The queries in the EF are written in LINQ or Entity SQL, and the providers transform them at runtime to the appropriate back-end query syntax for that database.

Features of ASP.NET Entity Framework

  • EF Core is a cross-platform framework that can be used on Windows, Linux, and Mac computers.
  • Database connectivity is built on ADO.NET, and there are several providers available to connect to SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL, DB2, and other databases.
  • Models can be constructed from scratch and then used to generate new databases, or they can be generated from existing databases and then hand-edited.
  • Entity Framework generates an EDM (Entity Data Model) from POCO (Plain Old CLR Object) entities to get/set data type properties. When querying or saving entity data to the underlying database, it employs this model.
  • EF tracks changes to instances of your entities that need to be sent to the database.
  • While querying or saving data, EF provides automatic transaction management. It also allows you to personalize transaction management.
  • EF enables us to retrieve data from the underlying database using LINQ queries. This LINQ query will be translated by the database provider into the database-specific query language.
  • To alter default conventions, you can configure the EF model using data annotation properties or the Fluent API.
  • To establish or manage underlying database Schema, EF provides a series of migration commands that can be invoked via the NuGet Package Manager Console or the Command Line Interface.

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The Architecture of ASP.NET Entity Framework


The Architecture of Entity Framework consists of the following components:

  • The Entity Data Model
  • LINQ to Entities
  • Entity SQL
  • The Object Services Layer
  • Entity Client Data provider
  • ADO.Net Data Provider

The Entity Data Model

Entity data model(EDM) consists of three parts namely:

  • Conceptual model- The model classes (i.e. entities) and their relationships are represented in the conceptual model. This will be independent of the architecture of your database table. In XML files, it describes your business objects and their relationships.
  • Mapping- A Mapping Model describes how the conceptual model is transferred to the storage model. The conceptual and logical layers are mapped by the Mapping model (storage layer). It connects the conceptual layer's business objects and relationships with the logical layer's tables and relationships.
  • Storage model- The underlying database's schema is represented by the storage model. That is, the database design model contains tables, views, keys, stored procedures, and their relationships.

LINQ to Entities

The query language LINQ-to-Entities (L2E) is used to write queries against the object model. It returns the entities defined in the conceptual model. 

Entity SQL

These E-SQL queries are internally translated to SQL queries that are dependent on the data store. The Entity Framework handles the conversion of E-SQL queries to datastore-specific query languages such as T-SQL(Transact SQL).

The Object Services Layer

The Object Context, which represents the session of interaction between the applications and the data source, is part of the Object Services layer. The main purpose of the Object Context is to perform various actions like adding and deleting instances of things and saving the modified state back to the database using queries.

Entity Client Data provider

This layer exposes the upper layer to the entity layer. Entity client allows developers to work with entities in the form of rows and columns using entity SQL queries without having to construct classes to express conceptual structure. Entity Client displays the entity framework layers, which are the foundational functionality. These levels are referred to as Entity Data Models.

ADO.Net Data Provider

When programming against the conceptual schema, these are source-specific providers that abstract the ADO.NET interfaces used to connect to the database. It converts standard SQL languages such as LINQ to native SQL expressions and executes them on the specified DBMS system using a command tree.

Version History of ASP.NET Entity Framework

Entity Framework was first introduced by Microsoft in 2008.  It has since launched numerous versions of Entity Framework. Entity Framework now includes two types: EF 6 and EF Core. The table below shows the list of EF versions, their release dates and the .net framework used.


EF Version

Released Date

.NET Framework

EF Core 5.0

January 2021

.NET standard 2.1

EF Core 2.0

August 2017

.NET standard 2.0

EF Core 1.1

November 2016

.NET standard 1.1

EF Core 1.0

June 2016

.NET standard 1.0

EF 6


.NET 4.0 & .NET 

EF 5


.NET 4.0

EF 4.3


.NET 4.0

 Comparison Between ASP.NET Entity Framework and Entity Framework Core

ASP.NET Entity Framework 6

ASP.NET Entity Framework Core

Entity Framework 6 (EF6) is an object-relational mapper for the.NET Framework 

Entity Framework Core (EF Core) is a modern .NET object-database mapper.

EF 6 runs on .NET Core and .NET Framework, Through multi-targeting.

EF Core 3.1 runs on .NET Core and .NET Framework, through the use of .NET Standard 2.0. 

EF6 is a tested object-relational mapper (O/RM) for. NET which has undergone extensive feature development and stability.

EF Core is a lightweight, extendable, open-source, cross-platform version of the well-known Entity Framework data access technology.

The SQL Server Compact and Jet providers only work on EF6

The SQL Server Compact and Jet providers only work in EF Core

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Next Steps

This tutorial on ‘ASP.NET Entity Framework’ covers its features and architecture. Apart from what ASP.NET Entity framework is, it also includes why to use it and its version history. Proceeding further, you will see the comparison between EF6 and EF Core. 

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For a more extensive explanation of these ASP.NET Entity frameworks, please visit our YouTube channel.

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