.NET MVC: Entity Framework Database First Approach Example

In this tutorial you are going to learn how to use the Entity Framework Database First approach, through an example, to build a website using ASP.NET MVC for the management of a Robot Dogs production.

In the database first approach you start with an existing database, from which you can generate the models for your application.

If you don’t have a database, you can instead use a code first approach, where you generate the database from data classes.

Let’s explain the database approach with a simple example, in which we are going to create an ASP.NET MVC application.

1. Create a database

You should start from point 2 if you already have one.

  • Launch Visual Studio
  • Open the View tab -> Server Esplorer
  • Right click on Data Connections -> Add Connections…
  • Select Microsoft SQL Server 
    sql database creation
  • Add a connection to LocalDb, choosing a database name.
    sql database connectionDepending on your Visual Studio version, you may have to use SQL Express, simply insert .\SQLEXPRESS in the Server name field.
  • Visual Studio will ask you if you want to create a new database. Select Yes.
  • In Server Explorer right-click on the newly created RobotIndustry (or the name you chose) and select New Query.
    Insert this sql:

    CREATE TABLE [dbo].[RobotFactories] (
    [RobotFactoryId] INT IDENTITY (1, 1) NOT NULL,
    [Name] NVARCHAR (200) NULL,
    [Location] NTEXT NULL,CONSTRAINT [PK_dbo.RobotFactories] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED ([RobotFactoryId] ASC)
    );CREATE TABLE [dbo].[RobotDogs] (
    [RobotDogId] INT IDENTITY (1, 1) NOT NULL,
    [Name] NVARCHAR (200) NULL,
    [Armed] BIT NOT NULL,
    [RobotFactoryId] INT NOT NULL,

    CONSTRAINT [FK_dbo.RobotDogs_dbo.RobotFactory_RobotFactoryId] FOREIGN KEY ([RobotFactoryId]) REFERENCES [dbo].[RobotFactories] ([RobotFactoryId]) ON DELETE CASCADE

2. Create the application

We will test the database approach with an ASP.NET MVC application.
Create one.

create mvc project

When the project is ready, install Entity Framework:
Tools Menu -> NuGet Package Manager -> Package Manager Console

In the console, write the command : Install-Package EntityFramework

3. Generate the model

What we are going to do now is to generate our robotic models from the database.

  • Right-click on the Models Folder -> Add -> New item…
  • Select a new ADO.NET Entity Data Model
    ADO.NET entity
  • Choose EF Designer from data… and click Next
  • From the dropdown choose your existing database (like the one you create in the first part of the tutorial) and click Next
  • Check Tables and finally click Finish
    ADO.NET tables importYou may receive a security warning, click Ok to complete the generation.
  • Once completed you will see the .edmx file, with your models.
    robot edmx

4. The generated model

Take a look at the edmx generated in the Models folder and expand it.

generated robot model

  • RobotIndustryModel.Context.cs contains the DbContext derived class, which is the one that let us interact with data as objects
  • RobotDog.cs and RobotFactory.cs are the classes that model our database tables

5. Add a Scaffolded Controller

Time to use these models!

Add a new Scaffolded Item to the Controllers folder!

Scaffolded Item

Select MVC 5 Controller with views, using Entity Framework and fill the form.
This will generate a controller and some views for CRUD operations.

scaffold controller

6. Try it!

Run the application!

Once it started, navigate to ‘/RobotFactories/’ (your controller name).
You will see the Index page of the RobotFactoriesController.

Click Create New and create a couple of factories for our industry.

factories creation

Now return to Visual Studio and open View -> Server Explorer

Expand the connection created earlier, Tables, right-click on the RobotFactories table and select Show Table Data

database show data

You will see that the table has been populated with the factories we just created.

Now you can just repeat the Scaffolding part for the RobotDog class.


This is the end of this tutorial.
You have created and learnt a lot of things in this example, making good use of the Entity Framework Database First approach for the creation of your model starting from a database.

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