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Entity Framework Designer

Entity Framework visual design surface and code-first code generation for EF6, EFCore and beyond.

Model and generate code for both Entity Framework v6.x and Entity Framework Core 2.x, 3.x and 5.

Install with NuGet from the Visual Studio Marketplace

Complete documentation in the project's documentation site

This Visual Studio 2019 extension is the easiest way to add a consistently correct Entity Framework (EF6 or EFCore) model to your project.

It's an opinionated code generator, adding a new file type (.efmodel) that allows for fast, easy and, most importantly, visual design of persistent classes. Inheritance, unidirectional and bidirectional associations are all supported. Enumerations are also included in the visual model, as is the ability to add text blocks to explain potentially arcane parts of your design.

While giving you complete control over how the code is generated you'll be able to create, out of the box, sophisticated, consistent and correct Entity Framework code that can be regenerated when your model changes. And, since the code is written using partial classes, any additions you make to your generated code are retained across subsequent generations. The designer doesn't need to be present to use the code that's generated - it generates standard C#, using the code-first, fluent API - so the tool doesn't become a dependency to your project.

If you are used to the EF visual modeling that comes with Visual Studio, you'll be pretty much at home. The goal was to duplicate at least those features and, in addition, add all the little things that should have been there. Things like:

  • importing entities from C# source, or existing DbContext definitions (including their entities) from compiled EF6 or EFCore assemblies
  • multiple views of your model to highlight important aspects of your design
  • the ability to show and hide parts of the model
  • easy customization of generated output by editing or even replacing the T4 templates
  • entities by default generated as partial classes so the generated code can be easily extended
  • class and enumeration nodes that can be colored to visually group the model
  • different concerns being generated into different subdirectories (entities, enums, dbcontext)
  • string length, index flags, required attributes and other properties being available in the designer

and many other nice-to-have bits.

Code generation is completely customizable via T4 templates. The tool installs templates that target both EF6 and EFCore, and generate both a code-first DbContext class and POCO entity classes. The EF6 template's DbContext code is written to allow consumption in ASP.Net Core in addition to any other project type, so you'll have flexibility in your development.

Note: This tool does not reverse engineer from the database (i.e., "database-first"). Microsoft has provided tools for that, and there are other, well-maintained opensourced projects that provide that functionality as well.

You can read more about how to use the designer in the Documentation site.

Shout out and a big thanks

to for providing free development tools to support this project.

Change Log

3.0.6

  • Added ability to copy current diagram to clipboard
  • DbContext fix for configuring associations with backing fields
  • Code generation fix for associations with backing fields
3.0.5
3.0.4
3.0.3
  • Added VS UML icon for model file in solution explorer (thanks to https://github.com/dcastenholz for the change)
  • Classes with custom interfaces can now display an indicator with a tooltip indicating the interface type(s). This glyph is enabled/disabled at model level.
  • Added ability to specify that an association should be automatically included in any queries that use it (EFCore5 only). The association connector will appear bolder if at least one end is auto-included.
  • Updated association tooltip to indicate which, if any, end is auto-included
  • Fix to ensure database collation overrides don't get applied to the wrong column types
  • Fix to allow 1..1 association to owned types in EFCore5 (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/252)
  • Fix to calculate EF version number correctly when "Latest" was specified in designer (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/254)
  • Fix to generate correct DeleteBehavior enum values in EFCore < v3 (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/257)
  • Removed INotifyPropertyChanged option from designer. Implementers wanting this interface can add it to a partial class file as any other interface, as there's really nothing special about it.
  • Generated code now honors the ExcludeFromMigration setting for a class
3.0.2
  • Added setting on designer surface to set visibility defaults for entity default constructors, and overrides for that setting on the entities
  • Added public bool ModelAttribute.IsForeignKeyProperty for use by developers doing custom code generation from the model
  • Added option for turning off DbSet and table name pluralization (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/246)
  • Added option for how to name foreign key shadow properties - either with or without underscores (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/250)
  • Added option to generate DbContextFactory class, for use in context pooling. Asking for DbContext factory method generation disables generating OnCreating method, since they don't play well together.
  • Changed property editor for custom attributes to be multiline, to ease editing (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/251)
  • Fixes for code generation of new EFCore5 database collation options
  • Fixed condition where sometimes generated code in entity default constructors would create infinitely recursive calls
  • Stopped escaping standard XML comment tags in summary and description fields (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/248)
  • Due to the new seeding needs in EFCore5, setters for identity properties are now public even if set to be auto-generated
3.0.1
3.0
  • Now supports EFCore5.X
    • Added System.Net.IPAddress and System.Net.NetworkInformation.PhysicalAddress to the list of available property types
    • Added ability to specify both default database collation and a collation override at the property level
    • Many-to-many bidirectional associations are now allowed
    • Any property type can now be used as an identity
    • Can now customize backing field names for non-AutoProperty properties
    • Properties with backing fields (i.e., non-AutoProperty properties) can now choose how EF will read/write those values (see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/ef/core/modeling/backing-field).
    • Added support for keyless entity types created by defining queries
    • Added support for keyless entity types coming from database views
  • Default code generation type is now the latest version of EFCore (currently, 5.0)
  • Added ability to globally add and remove exposed foreign key properties to all modeled entities (via menu command) (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/223)
  • Added ability to choose to place newly imported model elements on the diagram where they were dropped. Caution: this can be EXTREMELY slow for large imports. (see https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/225)
  • Added composition and aggregation indicators to association connectors
  • Fixed inability to paste enumerations using diagram copy/paste
  • Changing an identity property's type now changes the type of any defined foreign-key properties pointing to that identity property
  • Title text color didn't always change when class/enum fill color changed in the diagram
  • Selecting tabs or spaces for indentation in generated code has been moved to a property on the designer surface.
  • Added ModelRoot.IsEFCore5Plus convenience property. It can be used in custom T4 edits
  • Possibly breaking changes:
    • T4 template structure has been changed drastically to simplify managing code generation for the various EF versions. If customized T4 templates have been added to a project, they'll still work, but enhancements will continue to be made only to the new, more object-oriented, T4 structure. Updating the model's .tt file to use the new template structure is quite simple; details will be in the documentation at https://msawczyn.github.io/EFDesigner/Customizing.html
2.0.5.7
  • Added ability to select tabs or spaces for indentation in generated code (Tools/Options/Entity Framework Visual Editor/Visual Editor Options) (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/221)
  • Fixed an issue with changing visual grid size on design surface.
2.0.5.6
2.0.5.5
2.0.5.3
  • Provide option to save diagrams as uncompressed XML to facilitate version control (in Tools/Options/Entity Framework Visual Editor)
  • Enhanced error reporting for assembly import errors
  • Assembly import can now process assemblies with more than one DbContext class
  • Cleaned up some ambiguities in how copy/paste was handled with multiple diagrams
  • Performance improvements
2.0.4.1
  • Added ability to hide foreign key property names on association connectors in diagrams
  • Attribute glyphs (except for Warning glyphs) in diagrams are now reflected in Model Explorer
  • Sped up reverse engineering a compiled assembly. As a consequence, the diagram is no longer updated when the assembly is imported (but that tended to ruin the diagram anyway)
  • Fix: Self-associations didn't appear when existing class is added to new diagram from the Model Explorer
  • Fix: Diagram no longer loses focus after its saved
  • Fix: Errors when copy/paste between diagrams in same model
  • Fix: Generalization links weren't being handled property when reverse engineering a compiled assembly
  • Fix: Under certain circumstances, declared foreign keys could erroneously be created for EF6 1-1 relationships. EF6 doesn't support this.
  • Fix: ensure glyphs in association compartments are visible
  • Fix: overly-aggressive pruning in foreign keys
2.0.3
  • Added ability to hide foreign key property names on association connectors in diagrams
  • Attribute glyphs (except for Warning glyphs) in diagrams are now reflected in Model Explorer
  • Fix: Self-associations didn't appear when existing class is added to new diagram from the Model Explorer
  • Fix: Diagram no longer loses focus after its saved
  • Fix: Errors when copy/paste between diagrams in same model
2.02
2.0.0
  • Dropped support for Visual Studio 2017; was getting to be too much to keep the tool viable for that Visual Studio version.
  • It's now possible to have multiple diagrams for the same model, each showing a different view and synchronized as the model changes. Perfect for helping to understand large models.
  • Added ability to specify foreign key properties (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/55)
  • Foreign key properties have a unique glyph so they can be easily picked out of the crowd
  • Foreign key properties that are primary keys also have a unique but different glyph
  • Completely restructured assembly parsers; they now cleanly handle all valid combinations of EF6/EFCore2/EFCore3 and .NETCore2/.NETCore3/.NETFramework
  • Modified assembly parsers to find declared foreign keys and add them to the model appropriately
  • Added options dialog (Tools/Options/Entity Framework Visual Editor)
  • Added use of GraphViz for model layout (if installed and path is added to "Tools/Options/Entity Framework Visual Editor")
  • Added switch to disable generation of classes and enumerations for those cases where they are coming from different assemblies but need to be in the model to avoid errors
  • Added visual indicator on classes and enumerations where code generation is disabled
  • Added ability to override the base class of the generated DbContext to be something other than "DbContext"
  • Join tables in many-to-many associations can now have custom names (EF6 only, until EFCore supports many-to-many cardinalities)
  • Removing an enumeration removes all entity properties that use that enumeration, after displaying a warning.
  • Designer has optional visual grid with color, size and snap-to-grid options available
  • Renamed toolbox category to "EF Model Diagrams"
  • Enhanced display of model elements in the Visual Studio property window's object list
  • Removed MSAGL layouts. No one understood them anyway.
  • Removed tool automatically installing NuGet packages. Too volatile.
  • Fix: OutputDirectory lost on reload (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/144)
  • Fix: Unidirectional Many-to-One Association missing Required (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/145)
  • Fix: Couldn't delete property initial value for Enum values (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/148)
  • Fix: Support for Empty / blank "File Name Marker" (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/149)
  • Fix: Now escaping XML comment text properly
  • Fix: Issue with GeographyPoint: System.Data.Entities.Spatial not found for .Net Core 3.1 (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/159)
  • Fix: HasDefaultSchema doesn't work with MySql (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/160)
1.3.0.12
1.3.0.11
  • Removed default checks in constructors for scalars
1.3.0.10
  • Build for VS2017 support
1.3.0.9
1.3.0.7
1.3.0.6
1.3.0.4
1.3.0.2
  • Fixed error found in some VS2017 installations preventing running due to dependency problems
1.3.0.1
  • Enhanced source code drag/drop to handle bidirectional associations and enumerations better.
  • Can now import assemblies containing DbContext classes. Dropping a compiled assembly onto the design surface will attempt to process and merge it into the design.
  • Added ability to merge two unidirectional associations into one bidirectional association (via context menu action)
  • Added ability to split a bidirectional association to two unidirectional associations (via context menu action)
  • Added Microsoft Automatic Graph Layout, giving the user the ability to choose the diagram's auto-layout strategy
Earlier

1.2.7.2

  • Added additional types of UInt16, UInt32, UInt64 and SByte to property type list
  • Added the ability to use a modeled enumeration, if it has a proper backing type, as an entity identifier
  • Added DateTime.UtcNow as a valid initial value for a DateTime property
  • Fix: "One-to-one relation in EFCore" (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/71)
  • Remove default DbContext constructor in EFCore to allow support for AddDbContextPool calls in ConfigureServices (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/72)

1.2.7.1

1.2.6.25

  • Fix for duplicate associations when Implement Notify is true

1.2.6.24

  • Fix for join table schema generation in certain scenarios (EF6)
  • Fix for regression error producing code gen errors in EFCore navigation properties

1.2.6.23

  • Fix for designer item not showing in Add Items dialog

1.2.6.22

  • [NEW] Added code in EF6 templates to generate orphan cleanup (experimental)
  • Fix for 1..1 and 0-1..0-1 associations in EF Core generated code
  • Entity constructor parameters normalized to help in JSON serialization/deserialization

1.2.6.21

  • Generation of column type overrides now generates valid override code in OnModelCreating
  • DbSet properties in DbContext generate as virtual to facilitate mocking

1.2.6.20

  • Fixed code generation issue where class and enum directory overrides were being ignored (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/36)
  • Fixed a problem that caused a hard crash when certain model properties were changed under certain conditions (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/38)
  • Removed visibility of source and target roles for all but 1-1 and 0..1-0..1 associations; they can't be changed anyway (See https://github.com/msawczyn/EFDesigner/issues/40)
  • [NEW] Added Display Text property to generate [Display(Name="")] for attributes, enum values and navigation properties
  • [NEW] Added ability to specify custom attributes for classes, attributes, enums, enum values and navigation properties

1.2.6.18

1.2.6.13

  • Bugfix to remove unnecessary permission requests to push attributes down when deleting leaf nodes in an inheritance tree
  • Fix to workaround Visual Studio pulling in the wrong System.Net.Http reference. (See https://developercommunity.visualstudio.com/content/problem/296293/vs2017-1575-ignores-the-hintpath-and-take-the-syst.html)
  • Add EFModel.xsd to Visual Studio schema cache in order to avoid editor warnings for missing schema
  • Fixed template issue for non-English-language systems (where Microsoft Pluralization Service is unavailable)
  • Added compartment for association sources so Bidirectional associations would show up

1.2.6.11

  • Tweak to force association end roles to be correct when roles or multiplicities change
  • Attribute elements' "String Properties" don't appear unless the attribute is a string
  • Attribute elements' "Indexed Unique" property doesn't appear unless the attribute has "Indexed" equal to "True"
  • Fixed background color on attribute glyph in model explorer
  • Fixed foreground color on enum value glyph on design surface
  • Hid comments in model explorer because they just cluttered up the tree.
  • [NEW] Associations now show up in their own compartment in a class on the design surface. Note that this changes the height of your elements, so the first time opening a model you may have to tweak your esthetics a bit.
  • [NEW] Double-clicking a class or enum on the designer opens the generated code file, if it exists. If it doesn't exist, you're asked if you'd like to generate the model then, if you do, it tries again.
  • Known issue: EFCore projects won't ask to generate the code if they can't open the file; they just fail silently.

1.2.6.7

1.2.6.6

  • [NEW] Deleting a generalization or superclass gives the choice of pushing attributes and associations down to the former child class(es)

1.2.6.5

  • Comment elements now wrap the text
  • Multiline editor available in property window for element comment descriptions and Comment element text
  • Xml format changed for .efmodel file - can't be loaded by any version < 1.2.6.3
  • Support for automatic migration to new model xml formats

1.2.6.2

  • Added XML docs to DbContext, DatabaseInitializer and DbMigrationsConfiguration
  • [NEW] Enabled drag and drop reordering of enum values and class properties
  • Gave some color to the enum value glyph in the model explorer - it was so boring!
  • [NEW] Class properties and enum values with warnings now show a warning icon on the design surface
  • [NEW] Design surface has a property to turn on or off the display of the warning icons
  • Recategorized a few "Misc" properties on the design surface

1.2.5.1

1.2.5.0

1.2.4.0

  • Retargeted immediate error and warning messages to Visual Studio output window rather than error window so they could be cleared
  • Added drag validation to Generalization (inheritance) tool
  • Automatically propagate enum name and value name changes to classes that use them

1.2.3.3

  • Reverted the selection of the node in the model explorer when an element is selected in the diagram. Was causing bad user experience.
  • Fix for bad code generation when a class has multiple properties that each have an darabase index specified.

1.2.3.0

1.2.2.0

  • Fix issue with association role end changing without the other side autoatically changing
  • Fix issue with deleting a highlighted element throwing an error when trying to save the file
  • Fixed code generation for dependent classes
  • [NEW] Designer now automatically saves before generating code

1.2.1.0

  • Bug fix for inheritance strategy automatically changing to table-per-hierarchy if targeting EF Core
  • Updated a few warning and error messages to make them more meaningful
  • Fixes for how dependent types work
  • Remove stale error and warnings prior to save (still a few left hanging around that need looked at)
  • Fixed a few null reference errors

1.2.0.0

  • New Features
    • Roslyn-based code analysis now allows dragging C# files onto the design surface to add or update classes and enums
    • Can add INotifyPropertyChanged interface and implementation for entities
    • Ability to tag model as a specific EF version (especially useful for EF Core as new capabilities are being added often)
    • Support for dependent (complex/owned) types
    • Option to generate dependent types in a separate directory
    • Output directory overrides for classes and enums
    • On model save, can optionally automatically install EF NuGet packages for the model's EF type and version
    • Context menu action to expand and collapse selected classes and enums
  • Enhancements
    • Added ability to add/edit enum values via text in the same way properties can be added/edited in classes
    • Property grid hides element properties if they're not appropriate for the EF version
    • Inheritance strategy automatically changes to table-per-hierarchy if targeting EF Core
    • Context property Database Type changed to SqlServer Type to better reflect what it does
    • Selecting an element in the Model Explorer highlights it on the diagram

1.1.0.0

  • Bug fixes for exceptions thrown when bad input to model attributes as text
  • [NEW] Added MinLength string property (used in EF6 only as of this writing)
  • Modified attribute parser to accept MinLength
  • [NEW] Added ColumnName property to model attribute
  • [NEW] Added MEF extension capability
  • Added some unit tests
  • Added some documentation updates
  • Changed version to 1.1.0 due to MEF capability

1.0.3.9

  • If no entities and model is using an unsupported inheritance strategy, changing from EF6 to EFCore doesn't give a message, just changes the strategy.
  • [NEW] Added IsFlags attribute (and matching validations and behavior) to Enums
  • NGENed extension assembly

1.0.3.8

  • Fixed project item placement
  • Added change checks to diagram so dirty flag doesn't set when nothing changes

1.0.3.7

  • Emergency bug fixes

1.0.3.6

  • Fixed parser errors when editing model attributes as text
  • Fixed error when auto-generating on save and design surface is not the active window
  • Fixed crash when used on non-English-language systems (where Microsoft Pluralization Service is unavailable)
  • [NEW] Added option to generate warnings if no documentation
  • Standardized warning and error message structure
  • Added ability to choose 'None' DatabaseInitializer type; generates SetInitializer(null)

1.0.3.5

  • Enhanced portability between EF6 an EFCore

1.0.3.4

  • Adds some T4 fixes to make generated code more usable in ASP.NET Core applications.
  • Fix to spurious error when copying/pasting enum elements.
  • [NEW] First release that's available on Visual Studio Marketplace.

1.0.3.3

  • Fix to spurious error when copying/pasting model elements
  • Do not use this release. Fix didn't extend to enum elements. This is fixed in 1.0.3.4.

1.0.3.2

  • Minor bug fix in parsing manually typed attributes.
  • Loosened model file version check to only check major version.

1.0.3.0

  • Enhanced syntax for adding/editing attributes via code
  • Fix for generate-on-save for both Framework and .NET Core projects.

1.0.2.0

  • [NEW] EFCore T4 template now available

1.0.1.0

  • Fix to EF6 T4 for issue where column names in many-to-many association join tables were flipped

1.0.0.0

  • Initial release

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