.net core tutorials

How to seed your EF Core database

A typical requirement when developing new applications is to have the ability to populate your database with an initial set of data. This may be to enable a common set of lookup data, or even to enable populating it with an inital set of data.

We may even want to populate your database with some Mock testing data, in order not too expose actual customer data to your developers or even to leak potentially sensitive data.

Using Entity Framework Core as an Object Relation Mapper (ORM) for your ASP.net Core Web or API projects, is really easy and you can be up and running with it really quickly. In this post I will discuss how to seed your EF Core Model first database with seed data by using migrations.

Code available on Github

I have previously discussed how to use EF Core in a seprate class library project and how to configure migrations to enable the update of your database schema.

Often you will also need to Seed your database with an initial set of data.

Database seeding is the initial seeding of a database with data. Seeding a database is a process in which an initial set of data is provided to a database when it is being installed . It’s a process which is typically only run once on the initial deployment of a database.

I generally always follow principles from Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction when designing my data tables and schema’s – Chapter 18 is definitely worth a read – the most common mistake I have found when working on legacy applications, is that the developers have often attempted to design their databases for all possible use cases, i.e. Application, Reporting, Data Warehouse, transactional.

This often results in bloated databases and applications which eventually become increasingly difficult to manage, maintain and develop against. This is one of the driving reasons why micro-service architectures have become popular, whereby the application and database are just enough to solve the problem.

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Steve McConnell and Microsoft Press,U.S.

Price: £26.31

You’ll notice that I have tried to keep the database behind this service really small, and only implemented the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) requirements. We only need the ability to Add, Edit and View a list of Web Crawlers and their referer URL’s.

Can’t wait to see it in action ?

Check out the code on GitHub


The Database

The database we are going to seed in this example is a relatively simple database with just enough complexity in it to illustrate how you can cope with most database seeding tasks.

We have 3 tables Threat, ThreatType and Status. Each table has a Primary Key defined and the Threat table has foreign key relationships with both the ThreatType and Status tables.

We are going to seed all 3 of these tables with data, including the relationships.


Although we have created a separate class library project for our EF Core database context class, ApiContext, we are going to develop some extension methods to this class but we are going to add this extension class to our main Api project.

The primary reason being that our Api.Database project is generic mini database project that is going to used for several disconnected micro service applications internally. Each of these micro service applications may have different database seeding requirements and therefore we want to be able to control the seeding on a per project basis.

Add Extension class

Add a new class to the root of the Api project and name it DbContextExtension.cs and add the following code.

View Full Code

We have added a simple boolean method we will call to determine whether all migrations have been applied.

Add Folder for data seeding scripts

Add a folder that will contain your data seeding scripts. This fodler will contain some JSON files which will contain the data required by the applicaiton.

I have just added a folder and called it seed. I have added three JSON files, threats.json , status.json & types.json

Add Seeding Extension Methods

We need to import a few additional namespaces to the DbContextExtension.cs

Add and addtional extension method to the DbContextExtension.csclass, that will be responsible for reading the data from the JSON files and the inserting to the database.

View Full Code

Modify StartUp.cs

We now need to add some code to the StartUp.cs to the Configure method


The above techniques illustrate how it easy it is to make use of Entity Framework core to create a database and seed it with the default data that it requires.

We used standard JSON data as a source for our data. We also made use of EF Core functions to insert the data.

Gary Woodfine

Freelance Full Stack Developer at threenine.co.uk
Helps businesses by improving their technical proficiencies and eliminating waste from the software development pipelines.

A unique background as business owner, marketing, software development and business development ensures that he can offer the optimum business consultancy services across a wide spectrum of business challenges.